What are your predictions for the impact on library music?

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  • #34520 Reply

    I’m interested to hear what you guys think will happen to the library music business from the global response to the pandemic.
    Production on films and TV shows has stopped, most likely delaying the release of those. Post production is probably slowed down as well on projects already in the can. There might be a crazy push to get all these projects released once the peak of the virus curve seems past us (maybe in two months?)

    On the other hand, advertising often INCREASES during a recession, as businesses do whatever they can to juice sales.

    I also wonder what this will mean for libraries and composers – will it hurt newcomers more than established ones that already have residual revenue streams? (After all, people will still watch TV).

    How about royalty free? Will a quiet couple of months for the RF sites mean it speeds up the transition to a subscription based model?

    #34521 Reply
    Paul Biondi

    Hey Mark – I don’t have any predictions about the music library business but what I do know is this isn’t the first and it won’t be the last disruption. Being well-rounded and adaptable is the best arsenal. Hey, we had DJs, pay to play, Napster, PROs demoting vocal background to background instrumental, subscription models, and more to come that we don’t know about ) and yet, we still make a good living with music.

    I’ve always liked this quote as a reminder that remaining optimistic, even when it’s difficult to do so, is the mindset for being able to spot opportunity.
    “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
    Winston Churchill

    #34522 Reply

    “Skate where the puck is going”
    Indeed new shows are not in production and live sports broadcasts are history. These are negatives.

    The positives will be re-runs. Those of us who have music on shows produced in the past few years will see re-runs. And yes, advertising and youtube messaging will change and all corporations will start advertising “during these difficult times….our corporation is ensuring that we will do…. blank, blank, and blank…so you feel confident and safe………..etc” .

    The big dip has occurred in March because the news cycle is so negative, fearful, and shocking, but starting in April media producers will have to produce messages of “how to cope and adapt” and “how companies are implementing safety policies”….etc. So media will still get produced. All editors (our clients) will be editing from home.

    The performance royalties we will get paid reflect the past 6 to 18 months ago so this will help sustain our earnings in 2020 a bit. I suppose we will see declines on Q4 2020 through Q3 2021 PRO statements. Olympics will be cancelled which means all the media that was supposed to get produced and broadcast for the summer games is out the window.

    Bars, restaurants, retail stores, theme parks, hotels….hmmm ( all these extra sources of revenue for PRO’s) I really wonder about that. These businesses are closed so one has to wonder if they will even pay their annual license fees to ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in 2020.

    Key numbers to keep an eye on are what the pros will collect and distribute in 2020 compared to 2019

    If I were to take a guess at it, perhaps PRO’s will see a 20% to 30% decrease in revenue collected in 2020.
    We will not know for 1 year.

    ASCAP collected 1.27 Billion in 2018. I suppose they will report their 2019 revenue in 2 months or so.

    BMI already warned about 2020 revenue in their March distribution. So performance royalties earned in 2021 will be lower I predict. All PRO’s around the globe will see their revenue decline. EVERYONE in the world except Amazon, Wal Mart, Costco, grocery stores, health care, drug companies will see their revenue decline.

    It will be interesting to see if real estate prices crash down. I certainly hope University tuition crashes hard too.

    #34524 Reply

    I was thinking recently (perhaps optimistically) there is going to be more demand for content than ever because everyone’s at home. I have noticed plenty of plays recently on lots of best moments/greatest game/top 100 type sports shows, (presumably editors can work remotely and put these programmes together) and as Music1234 says there will be plenty of repeats on TV – hopefully they will be repeats of shows with our music! Most of us who are a one person operation can continue to work as normal. I for one am very grateful for that. I think those of us who have been doing this for a long time – who are self-sufficient and are making a living – will survive it. Anybody attempting to break into this business right now – well it was already harder than ever before and I really feel for them, but my message to anyone would be the same as it always is – if you can, keep on keeping on.

    #34526 Reply
    Michael Nickolas

    ASCAP is already notifying members of a decrease in revenue to them and therefore a decrease in royalties to us:

    Q: “Will I still get royalty distributions from ASCAP?

    A: Even while ASCAP offices are closed, ASCAP is still very much up and running and working for you. Our domestic publisher royalty distributions went out on March 20th, and we are working hard to get our domestic writer distributions out in April. Please understand that our U.S. licensee customers and foreign partners have experienced immediate and material challenges in their businesses. As a result, revenue to ASCAP will decrease during this time and, therefore, your royalty distributions will decrease as well. While we cannot put a figure on this right now, we will keep you updated as events unfold.”

    #34527 Reply

    I’m much more worried about other aspects of the business as opposed to a virus based impact. As mentioned, viewership of shows is UP!! As for streaming royalties, PRO moving funds where they like, PRO NON transparency in accounting, subscription models gaining traction, networks feeling that they want to go direct license, production companies trying to take all the publishing of music they didn’t even commission, etc…..that’s what I’m concerned with.

    #34528 Reply

    Michael, can you send a link to the ASCAP communications? It would seem to me that payments to us will drop in 6 to 9 months and not on the next two distributions because that revenue should already have been collected and slated for payment in April and July 2020. It will be interesting if they start slashing royalty distributions now. It’s my understanding that we are getting paid for 2019 performance royalties on this distribution and the next distribution. Even the foreign distributions for 2019 and 2018 should pay out normally for the remainder of this year. The October 2020 and January 2021 distributions should show declines. We’ll see what they do soon enough. BMI did not slash 2019 royalties, that’s for sure.

    #34529 Reply
    Michael Nickolas

    On the ASCAP website home page, click on the “FAQ on the Government’s Coronavirus Relief Package” link.

    #34542 Reply

    Well, sorry for not sharing the somewhat optimism of the topic participants, but I already see the effects of the pandemic on my future incomes.

    I’m mainly a library music writer and I earn my life with TV placements all over the worlds on tv shows llike those kitchen things, tv shows, science shows, documentaries or those police documentaries. Well basically everything that is on TV which’s not original music commissioned to a composer.

    I don’t have any library used in commercials or TV series (those use original music which I rarely do) so the fact that people are staying at home has literally not a god damn positive effect on me.

    For now, TV Channels dont seem to repeat older TV shows (repeat: i’m not talking about TV series or TV movies, i’m talking about shows that use massive amount of library music )
    on the contrary they seem to air.a lot more movies and animated children series (kids stay at home…)

    So to summarize, not a lot of repeat of older shows/doc for now, new TV shows (not talking about TV series or movies again) are not being made or with a lot of difficulties. Those daily shows are being produced on a daily basis, even if an editor could work remotely, he or she would still have to edit pictures that need to be shoot and this can’t be done.

    The closing of life must end very very soon and life has to restart again, or 2021 will be a pretty weak year for library music composers. Also for original music composers who had films or tv shows planned that are being delayed at best, and cancelled at worst.

    I’m earning $250k a year normally with just library music, but if TV channels line-up dont go back to normal, I’ll be going as low as $40k a year. Catastrophic.

    To be frank, I would still have a great life in 2021. But losing more than 100 % of your last year income, is still psychologically difficult.

    #34543 Reply

    Overall I think library music earnings will be hurt substantially by these events. Although I think trailer music will be hurt the most, because cinemas are out of action, movies are being delayed etc. It’s very hard to imagine a piece of trailer music being licensed right now.

    I have also heard rumors that some PROs are saying they will be unable to process royalty payments normally, due to staff being away. I don’t know if this is true but obviously this wiould have a very negative impact. Then there’s the need for cue sheets to be filed correctly, which I think is also less likely in this environment.

    Besides these points, it is also very hard to see advertising syncs going anywhere but down, if we enter a deeper recession. And I have already received ntoice from one RF library that their earnings are about 50% down one month to the next.

    As of this week, I’ve begun to feel the reductions bite. It’s a pretty bleak time right now for me in library music.

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