Where are your PRO payments hiding?

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  • #13628 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Over that last few weeks I have been working with a system that reconciles PRO statements with cue sheets. This system was developed by a friend who has a catalog of about 30,000 tracks and has been in the production music end of the business for a couple of decades. Over that time he has developed an in depth system that accounts for every second and every penny. According to him up to 50% of earnings go unreported or paid incorrectly. The money he has recovered for himself is astonishing and proves the point. He has been toying with the idea of turning his system into a business and asked me if I would become a guinea pig and test it with my PRO statements.

    A little history. The problems begin when the person at the production company is filling out the cue sheet (by hand) and invariably makes mistakes with the name of the episode, the title of the tune and the proper allocation of writer(s) and publisher(s). Those mistakes get compounded when that info is transmitted to the PROs and then has to be entered into their system. There is generally to much human intervention in the process and thus the many accumulated mistakes.

    I uploaded my BMI song registrations into his system and he started matching cue sheet information to my BMI statements. It was eye opening. Out of over 40 cue sheets 24 had mistakes of missing or incorrect payments! Granted only seconds and pennies in some cases but they do add up and over time, with re-runs, increases exponentially. BTW this is only for the last 3 statement periods as BMI only lets you go back that long to recoup.

    The trick is getting your hands on the cue sheets. Many of the libraries will not make them available to writers fortunately, for me, his deal requires delivery of all cue sheets and I happen to be on a large number of the same shows he is on.

    The next step is taking the reports he generates, along with copies of the cue sheets and any relevant data and present them to BMI for payment.

    Stay tuned…

    #13631 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Bump

    #13633 Reply
    music_pro
    Participant

    This sounds really cool.

    #13632 Reply
    Desire_Inspires
    Participant

    I know that many songwriters do not have the time or financial means to track every penny in regards to royalties. But it seems that large music publishers would have a team of people available to track royalties and work with the PROs to get missing royalties.

    Let’s say a library gets $3 million dollars in compensation for missing publishing royalties. That means that there is also $3 million dollars in missing songwriter royalties to be split up amongst writers. A songwriter with good placements could end up getting hundreds or thousands in missing royalty payments.

    Is there any technology being used to improve the system?

    #13636 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    That means that there is also $3 million dollars in missing songwriter royalties to be split up amongst writers.

    Doesn’t necessarily work that way. The publishing info could be correct but writer information is incorrect or missing. That’s what we have found so far.

    #13639 Reply
    More advice
    Guest

    Art,

    Maybe it’s time for a bunch of composers to write to BMI insisting that they display filed cue sheets for any and all cue sheets where writers have a credit. ASCAP does display this info and has for a long time.

    Good luck reconciling 500 cue sheets with Pro Statements! I don’t have enough time to look at 500 cue sheets in my account. I glance at them occasionally to get an idea as to which cues the market likes, but that’s about it. The management of all of this data is beyond overwhelming. Where talking about hundreds of thousands of writers and millions of cues.

    I do think though that the accounting and crediting of cues has gotten, and will get even better and more accurate moving forward.

    #13641 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Good luck reconciling 500 cue sheets with Pro Statements! I don’t have enough time to look at 500 cue sheets in my account.

    My thought initially and it does requires some work but the system does work and the monies recovered makes it worthwhile, at least for my friend who created the system. BTW his PRO statements run over 700 pages and the few days work he has to put in each quarter is well worth the effort.

    One of the reasons he offered to take me on as a test case was because my statements are much smaller and to see if it was a viable business model. It should take approximately 5-10 hours, once I know the system, to reconcile the statements. We want to see whether the monies recovered are worth the effort.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that once the discrepancies are fixed they are fixed going forward and it’s money you are no longer leaving on the table in re-runs.

    #13647 Reply
    More advice
    Guest

    Holy SH___700 pages!

    I wonder how many pages Jared’s statements contain?

    Ok So Art, what is the procedure? Does he scan all the cue sheets?
    Print them out and analyze them one at a time?

    I must say though, I do have a habit now of logging into ASCAP every day to check the series total for cue sheets. There’s “Series” then there are “episodes”.
    It’s tough to look at every “episode” cue sheet…if we have a cue on a “series” we may have cues on 29 episodes.

    Please tell your friend he can have my stuff as a “test case” too.

    I have looked at many and only once caught an error.

    P.S. The jingle santa came with early Christmas presents today.

    #13656 Reply
    music_pro
    Participant

    Jared have a private forest in order for BMI to print his statements.

    #13657 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster

    Does he scan all the cue sheets? Print them out and analyze them one at a time?

    The cue sheets get entered into his system as well as the statements and song titles and then cross referenced and compared. Any number of mistakes can occur from not listing the correct writer, no writer listed, missing writer (same for publisher) as well as incorrect timings.

    It’s tough to look at every “episode” cue sheet…

    You have to look at every cue sheet. It’s a very granular approach but there is money in them thar hills!

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