PMA (Production Music Association) meeting on Non-Exclusive libraries and retitling


Robin and I attended the PMA meeting, June 21st 2010, on “Non-Exclusive libraries and retitling”.

Tunesat sponsored this event and it was great to finally meet some of those folks, Mellisa, Chris and Lara. They are as nice in person as in the many e-mail conversations I’ve had with them! Chris was on the panel and was particularly eloquent in explaining Tunesat, fingerprinting and detection. It is the future!

Another nice surprise was when one of the panel members, Catherine Farley, Director of Music Licensing, for the Disney ABC Television group mentioned that she uses Music Library Report for research and recommended that others use it. Wow, cool, so they are paying attention. Very gratifying. Thanks Catherine!

The panel members included: Catherine Farley (Disney ABC), Cheryl Hodgson (Trademark and Copyright attorney), Ron Mendelsohn (Megatrax), Alicen Schneider (NBC Universal), moderator Randy Wachtler (615 Music) and Cris Woods (Tunesat).

It’s not hard to imagine how most of the assembled panel and guests felt about the topic. You can read more about their position here:

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, many of their points were well taken. In particular, I can see it from the networks’ point of view. Alicen Schneider (NBC) and Catherine Farley (ABC) both spoke of the increase of multiple claimants on music that has been aired. They also spoke of music that is overexposed because of the retitling issues. (Then again, at least with production music, how many people are going to recognize a short piece of music from one show to another, buried under dialog?). There is also the issue of 3rd party deals that might conflict and how they may impact foreign sales as well as potential legal and ethical problems. All very good points, and they opened my eyes a lot wider.

On the other hand, from the PMA’s point of view, it all seemed a bit self-serving. The old library business model appears to be failing and there is a mindset that the “The sky is falling”. It’s fine to protect the interest and value of music, no argument there, but the genie is out of the bottle regarding non-exclusive libraries and re-titling. There must be tens of thousands of re-titled tracks available through non-exclusive libraries. One of the biggest arguments against re-titling is the potential loss of ownership of your copyright. Call me naïve, but I find it hard to believe that the courts would take the position that all of those thousands of copyrights (involving untold numbers of libraries and composers) are in jeopardy because of re-titling. I think one of the answers lies with the PROs and finding a mechanism for keeping all those income streams straight. And yes their are other potential problems but I don’t think the “sky is falling”. Then again I’ve always been a “glass is always half-full” kind of guy!

For those of you who are new to this: Generally speaking, you have a number of options to promote your music to the film and TV world. There can be many variations depending on your negotiating skills and/or demand for your work:

Exclusive – Up-front Money. The music library will pay you, upfront, for each piece of music, up to and including, all recording costs and expenses. You will give up ownership of the copyright in perpetuity and will not participate in any license fees. You will retain your writers share of the performance royalties (but not the publishing share). There will be no re-titling of your music.

Exclusive – No Upfront- Money. The music library will NOT pay any upfront fee or costs. You will give up ownership of the copyright in perpetuity. You might participate in any license fees. You will retain your writers share of the performance royalties (but not the publishing share). There will be no re-titling of your music.

Non Exclusive – No Upfront Money. The music library will NOT pay any upfront fee or costs. You will NOT give up ownership of the copyright (any music placed with a show will stay with that show in perpetuity). You probably will participate in any license fees. You will retain your writers share of the performance royalties (but not the publishing share). Your music will be re-titled.

Go It Alone – You will NOT give up ownership of the copyright (any music placed with a show will stay with that show in perpetuity). You will receive 100% of any license fees. You will retain your writers share of the performance royalties AND the publishing share. Your music will not be re-titled.

Because the exclusive library route is not possible (or desirable) for the many and the “Go It Alone” takes a particular personality trait, the non-exclusive avenue is an attractive alternative.

One member of the audience asked the panel what they would say to a non-exclusive library owner who says that this is the only business model that works for him. A member of the panel gave a rather sharp reply; “go exclusive or get out of the business”. I found his comment not very constructive. I would assume he also feels the same away about composers who are unable to get signed exclusively by one of the major libraries.

So, what’s a composer to do? I’ve been a writer/producer all my life with a modicum of success. Certainly, I have not been able to earn enough to live on. That doesn’t mean I will stop writing or producing as I love what I do. The various “Big” libraries I have tried to get into are not interested. I’m also not interested in smaller exclusive libraries that offer nothing more than a promise and want my music in perpetuity. Does that mean I should “get out of the business?” Not gonna happen. In a perfect world I would rather work exclusively with a company that I believed in and that believed in what I did. In fact I had that many years ago as a writer with a couple of major publishing companies. In the meantime, I’m comfortable working with the few non-exclusive libraries I work with and yes, the retitling issue is a problem and will have to be dealt with. If nothing else, last night opened my eyes to the potential problems.

I do think a workable solution can be found. It’s too bad none of the non-exclusive libraries, that were asked to participate, chose not to do so. The only way to solve these problems is for all sides to come to the table, be open, communicate and work out a solution.

176 Replies to “PMA (Production Music Association) meeting on Non-Exclusive libraries and retitling”

  1. Just received a reply from Chris Woods (co-founder of Tunesat) on the question of fingerprinting and identifying who placed a particular piece of music on a TV show. I thought I would start a new thread here as the current one was getting pretty crowded.

    Hi Art,

    Sorry for the delayed response. Just had a look at the thread. It’s a hot topic indeed. To clarify, fingerprinting cannot discern between the same master recording that is in 2 accounts with different metadata. If library “A” fingerprinted a master recording and provided metadata with the title “123” and library “B” fingerprinted the same master recording and provided metadata with the title “456” they would both receive the same detection data but library “A” would see it as “123” and library “B” would see it as “456”.

    I wish I had a better answer for you. This is where having both watermarking and fingerprinting would be ideal.



    As Ron and others have mentioned this is the current state of the technology. The Holy Grail will be when we have some form of watermarking and fingerprinting combined.

  2. First, thanks to Michael for attending the PMA event this week and for reporting back to this forum on the issues discussed in a fair and accurate manner. The issue of foreign royalties is a fascinating and complex topic and I agree that it is not a black and white issue. However I would like to weigh in on this issue and attempt to shed some light here:
    1) In order to receive foreign royalties, you first need to have foreign performances.
    2) Having a local agent or subpublisher in foreign territories significantly increases performances. This is why, without exception, all of the established exclusive libraries operate in this manner as opposed to just putting up a website. The local agents maintain a sales and marketing staff and pitch the library to clients to generate placements. In addition, the local agents register the titles with the local collection societies and know how to navigate the local societies to remove obstacles to their payments and maximize their royalties. Having dealt with many of these foreign societies, I can assure you that they are highly Byzantine and bureaucratic in nature; payment of royalties often requires considerable local intervention and is anything but automatic.
    3) Foreign subpublishers operate on an exclusive basis and will not handle non-exclusive catalogs since it is obviously not worth their time to actively manage and pitch non-exclusive content. In addition, many foreign PROs and copyright societies will not knowingly accept registration of non-exclusive content.
    4) This doesn’t mean that retitled music generates zero foreign royalties; it just means that they are operating outside of the established system and therefore missing out on the lion’s share of international revenues. This also doesn’t mean that there aren’t some retitled tracks which “unknowingly” slipped into this established system (i.e., retitled tracks “unknowingly” being distributed by exclusive subpublishers); undoubtedly there have been. But the point is that the bulk of this retitled stuff isn’t being actively managed abroad and this is just another way that these composers are missing out.
    5) Perhaps you are asking, “Why can’t a foreign broadcaster just go to one of these sites and download a track? What’s the big deal?” While this might be possible in some instances, let’s look at the reality of working inside a major network. Most major broadcasters maintain tight control over what music gets used in productions; producers and editors are not simply running around downloading whatever they want from the Internet. Music usage is tightly controlled and carefully monitored to ensure that all necessary rights are cleared and that everything gets properly reported to all the rights holders. There are in-house audio servers with integrated cue sheet systems and search systems; there are approved vendor lists for music and everything else. Last but not least, most broadcasters have Internet firewalls in place to prevent unauthorized downloads so that again doesn’t favor the Internet-based buyout or non-exclusive sites. For all these reasons, broadcasters continue to get the vast majority of their music from the reputable, trustworthy exclusive sources who have been serving them for the past 50 years, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. If anything, the trend in broadcasting right now is towards development of integrated systems which incorporate fingerprinting to automate cue sheets and music reporting; the fact that non-exclusive content cannot be recognized via audio fingerprinting is another reason that this business model will continue to be an outlier in terms of generating foreign royalties in the future.

    1. Thanks Ron for responding in depth. I hope that I reported with reasonable accuracy the highlights of the meeting that were relevant to composers.

      The only challenge that I have to your reply in defense of those here who choose to work under non-traditional models, is the inference that they are disreputable or untrustworthy. Just as I defended exclusive libraries from the accusation of being monopolizers, I think that it would be an unfair to characterize all of those who pursue alternative methods of distribution as unsavory.

      The issues are highly emotional on both sides of the fence. How it will shake out is anyone’s guess. But, I do know that like everything else the market is has many levels. While the lower end of the market is not a competitive threat to the upper end, some of it’s business practices may negatively impact everyone in the market when it comes to things like backend rate setting for internet use. Given the exponential growth of new media as a potential source of backend money there is a real danger of shooting oneself in the foot by giving away the house today.

      Thanks again Ron. It was a pleasure meeting you and the panel members.



      1. “The only challenge that I have to your reply in defense of those here who choose to work under non-traditional models, is the inference that they are disreputable or untrustworthy. Just as I defended exclusive libraries from the accusation of being monopolizers, I think that it would be an unfair to characterize all of those who pursue alternative methods of distribution as unsavory.”

        Thanks for bringing this up Michael, I am a neutral on this. I can see quite clearly both sides of this issue, but seriously Ron you do yourself no favours in the tone of your argument or some of your choices of words. Negative campaigning benefits no one, and doesn’t convince me whatever side it may come from. I concur with 90% of your argument, but its the 10% of sniping for me is a turn off.

        For the record I have got PRO royalties from a retitled piece from the PRS, one of the biggest PRO out there. Do you have a list of the ones you say will not handle retitled tracks, it would me of great interest to all here.

        Dont take this as an personal attack Ron , it certainly isn’t one. I like many others appreciate your input and passion, but sometimes for me your message gets clouded by ire.

        1. Hey Denis,

          I’m going to jump in and try to answer this for fun. Spent all day today on music and need a lil break haha. If someone with more knowledge wants to correct me that would be awesome…

          When PRS pays an American PRO on a cue-sheet from UK airplay, it’s not going to scour the cue-sheet looking for tracks that might be retitled. Frankly that would be a huge waste of resources, especially since the track was in fact played in the UK and the publisher and composer absolutely deserve to get paid for that use. I don’t think anyone would argue otherwise..

          The issue arises when a re-title publisher tries to further their foreign business interests, by doing things like signing foreign sub-pub deals, working out cue-sheet mishaps with PROs etc..

          It’s against the POLICY of foreign PROs to knowingly take in tracks germinated from non-exclusive publishing agreements. They frown on it. I don’t see them making it a point to with-hold money generated from re-titled tracks, because technically they owe that money to ASCAP/BMI/SESAC etc.. , then the monies get paid by ASCAP/BMI/SESAC to the American publisher and composer..

          BUT, don’t expect foreign PROs to help with any sort of collection efforts beyond the bare and required minimum..

          I don’t think anyone with a modicum of experience would say that copyrights aired as re-titles CAN”T get any foreign royalties. However, it is a fact that a respectable percentage of monies owed by foreign PROs to non-exclusive publishers will go to the black-box instead of to the rightful parties..

          Out of all the “cons” of re-titling your tracks, this is probably the least important. I’m surprised it’s gotten so much attention. We should be talking about the effect (affect??) non-exclusive tracks have on driving down the rates of domestic blanket licensing deals.

        2. Hello Denis,

          On the question of “trustworthiness”, I agree that this has more to do with individual companies on a case by case basis as opposed to one business model versus another.
          What I was suggesting is that rights ownership is much clearer and less ambiguous in an exclusive situation; there is no possibility of conflict over “who got the placement”, hence less potential hassle for clients.

          1. @ Ron and John

            Thanks for reply. I will give you a little of my background for perspective on this. I am relatively new to the library side of the business , but not so new to the music business!!! I had an exclusive publishing deal with one of the majors in that time . My songs were on major labels and distributed internationally so I understand the need and benifit for subpublishers and the idiosyncrasies of collecting in foreign territories. I also live in Ireland so my experience is based on that.

            I had never ever heard of re- titling until a year ago, it doesn’t exist in the regular side of the publishing business. . My first reaction was wow that is a very clever workaround for multiple library placements. I do however accept all the points that Ron makes. My issue was only the choice of words, but that issue has been dealt with.

            What I can’t understand in the library exclusive model is this. In the recording artist publishing world you would never sign a deal without an advance and a 50/ 50 deal is the worst you can do. I was paid a 6 figure advance with a 70/30 split. I am by no means a high profile artist or writer. It was recouped.

            Why then would a library writer sign a track to an exclusive library for no advance and a 50/50 split. Where is the libraries downside on this, none. They are getting literally something in perpetuity for nothing. I absolutely agree a deal like this would make sense if said library had direct access to the networks and had their music on a sound miner drive. If I remember correctly there are 450 PMA members, that’s a lot of music and a lot of companies competing for the same placements.

            Control of a writers copyright is of paramount importance and if you decide to sign it away for no compensation , use due diligence.

            @ Ron, none of the above paragraph is of course directed at you, I have no experience or knowledge of your company and it’s history. I hope you do however get my concerns however.

            Thanks for your input.

            1. Denis- there are various different models in the library world and there are already several excellent posts on this topic so I will not attempt to write another treatise on this. But suffice to say that some libraries pay upfront fees and some split sync fees with the composer in lieu of upfront fees. In our case, we pay upfront fees and all production costs. Keep in mind that the library world is not analogous to the commercial recording world; the whole point of library music is to be synched with Film/TV and other productions, not to sell records or downloads, therefore both sync revenues and performance revenues can be much higher, making the 50/50 deals quite reasonable for the composer. Again, we don’t operate like this but most European libraries do and it is considered perfectly legit since the composers tend to do quite well.

              1. Hi Ron

                I appreciate you taking the time to respond and I am glad your company pays upfront fees. In my view it shows a commitment and more importantly a reason for you (the library)to actively try and recoup and make money.

                This my general view on signing any exclusive deal .. As MichaelL says any contract has to be illusory.
                I appreciate the difference in the recording and library side of publishing and am learning all the time thanks to this site

                We really don’t want to open up an old discussion on this, suffice to say my view is that exclusive doesn’t always equal good and RF/ retitile equal bad Or vice versa for that matter.

                I think you would agree, that before signing any contract in this business you should be aware of what you are getting into.

                1. “This my general view on signing any exclusive deal .. As MichaelL says any contract has to be illusory.”

                  To clarify: not all contracts are illusory. Any exclusive deal where there is neither upfront money, nor a split of sync fees, is illusory, because you are giving the other party something for nothing.

                  The are exceptions, like when you place a track with an RF library exclusively AND you retain the publishing. In the scenario, you are splitting the sync fee and getting 100% of the writers and 100% of the publishing.



                2. ooops Thanks for clarification and correction. note to self dont type replies on an iphone when you need glasses. I thought I had copied an earlier reply of yours regarding this doh. I of course was not referring to Ron’s company.

                  Is the “legal” definition of an illusory contract one where it was totally biased in favor of one party and offering no advantage to the other?

                3. “Is the “legal” definition of an illusory contract one where it was totally biased in favor of one party and offering no advantage to the other?”

                  Illusory: Deceptive or based on a false impression (Black’s Law Dictionary)

                  When you just give music to an exclusive library you are giving up something of value, your copyright, but you are not getting anything of value in return, except for a “promise” to publish your music. There’s complete disparity in the bargain between the parties. The notion that the composer is getting something in return is an illusion. Even if the composer eventually sees backend money, they have expended time and money in creating the work, and the library has risked little or nothing. Further, the library has an asset which it can sell, and the composer will likely receive nothing.

                  An exclusive deal with no money upfront or no sync fee split is crap, and you should run from it…fast. Under those terms, you are just financing some else’s company.

                  In contrast, Ron Mendelsohn’s deal is THE GOLD STANDARD of fairness when it come to exclusive deals. That’s why he get’s, and keeps, top writers like Donn Wilkerson



                4. “In contrast, an exclusive deal with no money upfront or no sync fee split is crap.” I agree!

                  Would anyone really just give music exclusively to a library for nothing but their writers share in return? As Ron stated it’s pretty standard for the European exclusives to split the sync 50/50 with nothing up front, but not getting sync would be just insane.

                5. Michael, would you insist on a reversion clause for exclusive libraries not paying any amount upfront but paying 50% of sync fees? Or would you accept “in perpetuity”?

                6. “Michael, would you insist on a reversion clause for exclusive libraries not paying any amount upfront but paying 50% of sync fees? Or would you accept “in perpetuity”?”

                  @Michael that’s hard for me to answer, because I’ve never been in that position. I’ve always gotten paid up front, or I own it.

                  I would be very very careful and do some research. What kinds of sync fees does the library command? Do they do low ball blankets or gratis licenses? If a library has 10,000 tracks and they do a blanket license for 10K, what’s your split $.50 (fifty cents)? If they do gratis licenses hoping for back end, what’s 50% of zero? Do your homework.

                  At the very least, you want to know those two things, before you sign your music away in perpetuity. If they won’t give you straight answers, walk. If you want to gamble give them a few years, with a revision.

                  So, to answer your question. If a library is getting top placements, and DOES NOT do gratis licenses, or low ball blankets, I might put some music there. Otherwise, you’re giving away the cow for a handful of beans. IMHO.



    2. Thanks again Ron for coming by. All of what you said makes sense to me but one phrase caught my eye, “non-exclusive content cannot be recognized via audio fingerprinting”.

      My non-exclusive content is recognized just fine by Tunesat. 🙂 I’m assuming you mean that currently audio fingerprinting cannot recognize any metadata to determine who is the actual publisher of a piece of music. But don’t you think that embedded metadata of an audio fingerprint is coming?

      1. Hi Art,

        You know what I mean. Of course any piece of audio can be recognized by fingerprinting, but if there are multiple rights-holders associated with the same piece of audio, the PRO has no way of knowing who to pay. Having met with all the PROs recently, I can assure you that they are all moving rapidly towards fingerprinting solutions since this technology promises to improve the accuracy of their distributions while also reducing their costs. Payments associated with non-exclusive content with multiple claimants will likely end up in a “black box” subject to a dispute resolution process, which is the same way that other conflicts are handled.

        1. Yes but I believe, at some point, the publisher metadata will be embedded in the fingerprint. That would solve those kinds of disputes.

          1. It would be interesting to hear from those who would benefit most, the retitling libraries, as to whether they are working with anyone to develop that technology. Few others would have the motivation.

          2. This is quite impossible, Art. The audio fingerprint is a snapshot of the audio only. Embedding text in the audio file is what watermarking was all about, and most of us agree that this antiquated technology has no chance of being revived for a host of reasons. There is just no easy workaround for this dilemma.

              1. Reminds me of the 50’s reverb units. They were the size of a small room (not quite, but huge). I remember scientists saying back then it was impossible for reverb units to ever be any smaller (needing X amount of space for the echo effect). Enter the digital age… Now reverb units can fit in the palm of the hand (with an endless array of effects). Never say “impossible”.

              2. Art,

                A bWAV file is an audio file with metadata in the header. A digital audio fingerprint is not an audio file. It is a snapshot or data representation of the unique audio characteristics of a sound file. These are 2 different things. The whole point of fingerprinting is to AVOID embedded data so that the technology can recognize ANY piece of audio, not just audio with embedded codes. This was the whole problem with watermarking, which required data to be embedded in audio files. The 2 main problems with embedded audio are: a) If the metadata changes, the audio file needs to be recreated; b) So-called “legacy” content cannot be identified (i.e., every piece of untagged audio that already exists in the universe). Believe me, we dealt with watermarking for many years and it is extremely cumbersome and not a viable solution on a mass scale. If you still have questions about the technology behind fingerprinting, please contact Tunesat or visit their website.

                1. Thanks for the enlightenment Ron. A truly fascinating subject.

                  I have e-mailed Chris at Tunesat about this. I still maintain that just because it’s not possible, currently, does not mean that it will never be. I do appreciate you sharing your knowledge though. We all get to learn!

            1. “Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.”
              Robert A. Heinlein

              “Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: 1- It’s completely impossible. 2- It’s possible, but it’s not worth doing. 3- I said it was a good idea all along.”
              Arthur C. Clarke

    1. Hey Art and all, I read many of the posts here associated with retitling and came to the conclusion that retitling is not a problem: it actually solves a problem!

      When a song is played on TV, that audio is usually attached with a title. A production company would determine what company the song came from and attribute a publisher and writer to the song. If a song is retitled, it still has one unique publisher and one unique writer or writers. At the worst, money for a song will be paid to the wrong publisher but will always be paid to the correct writer or writers. Ethical companies that use music will take the time out to credit the correct parties for usage of the music. It is their job to do so.

      Honestly, I think the retitling argument in this instance is a bit one sided. I have not heard any non-exclusive library complain about not getting their publisher’s share of royalties or being blackballed by the industry. Some non-exclusive libraries may not be doing well, but this may be the result of other issues. Since companies are profiting from the retitling of a song, the practice has incentives and is beneficial.

      1. Synth Player,

        I still don’t know what problem you believe retitling solves?! Perhaps that the retitle includes the publisher’s name or initials?

        1. Yes Rob. You are correct. Retitled songs contain different initials to diferentiate the publisher for that specific placement. It was never meant to provide non-exclusivity; that is just a side benefit of retitling.

          The only benefit retitling has is that it gives licensing companies a chance to increase their catalogs without actually owning the music. The songwriters of the songs agree to let a company become a publisher for a song. The publisher promotes the catalog and helps songwriters license their songs. That’s it.

          The cool thing is that a songwriter can enter exclusive deals, non-exclusive deals, or a combination of deals. It really isn’t a huge deal. In the end, songwriters are in control. They are the the workers who get to bargain with the companies that try to make money from music. It is the publishers, exclusive or non-exclusive, that must constantly adjust and work hard to stay relevant.

    1. I listened to this and it seems to me that Krizman is a little out of touch with the industry. She predicts that non exclusive libraries will go out of business in 3 to 5 years and made a few statements that were not correct like “A non exclusive library can not represent your music on a international level”. Plus, she doesn’t know about Music Library Report 🙂

      1. Yes. Mrs. Krizman makes the library world seem like a scary place. She along with other members of PMA are almost trying to crush all hopes of composers that do not want to play by their rules. The level of miscommunication and blatant distortion is highly disturbing.

        I believe that PMA wants to create a monopoly, in which non-exclusive libraries will become extinct and any exclusive library that is not a member of PMA will be driven out of business.

        I understand that PMA wants to protect their interests, but they do not necessarily represent the best interest of composers. They are publishers, and they do not want artists to maintain ownership of all music. Composers would only get the writer’s share and would be giving away the rights to their music in perpetuity. That is monopolistic and unfair.

        The PMA is all about PMA libraries owning all of the rights to the music and collecting all licensing and sync fees.

        1. As long as pump audio and jungle punks continue to do what they do
          there is nowhere else for most musicians to go but non ex.
          Most exclusives are not letting fairly talented composers in.
          There is a lawyer on the board of the PMA who is patrnered with my ex employer.
          These people lke to keep things very quiet. Well I would say they are akin to
          Lobbyists.You like them when they benefit you and don’t when they are out to do you in.
          The argument truly is strange. Some people pay big license fees for the use of bigger artists
          who these days are not the biggest talent.Exclusives like to say their music is great,and is quite often,and non exclusives are getting better cause they can demand more quality,but where is the line drawn.My prediction will be the exclusives will remain the way they are.The growth is everywhere else.

          1. Ironically I believe that MichaelL may be attending a PMA meeting this evening (20th). If he went, maybe he can weigh in on this.

            1. Yes, I was there. Just got in. It’s about midnight. I’ll post something tomorrow. Most of the discussion was about “new media” and technology. There was some discussion about retitling.

              More tomorrow.



        2. OK. Let me address Synth Player’s remarks before I get into the meeting. The PMA has over 445 library members. It’s not some secret little club of a few people “trying to crush all hopes of composers that do not want to play by their rules.”

          I know that you’re young, frustrated and ambitious, but that kind of thinking will get you absolutely nowhere in this business. It would be much more productive for you to channel all of the energy into 1) studying and writing music, and 2) because you seem to be very interested in the business side of things, going to school and getting an MBA or law degree, after which you will actually have some knowledge upon which you can build a business.

          “The level of miscommunication and blatant distortion is highly disturbing.” Be specific. I did not hear anything in that podcast that was inaccurate, if you actually listened closely and analytically. Tell us what you think was distorted and your basis, source of information, for making that judgement. In a courtroom, that what we call evidence. What is your evidence?

          “I believe that PMA wants to create a monopoly, in which non-exclusive libraries will become extinct and any exclusive library that is not a member of PMA will be driven out of business.”

          A monopoly exists when ONE company controls the distribution of a particular commodity. As I said there are 445 PMA member companies, therefore by definition they are NOT trying to create a monopoly, nor are they a monopoly.

          Your comments only fuel misinformation and misperceptions of what it takes to succeed as a library writer. That will result in composers having unrealistic hopes rather than a realistic strategy for success.

          Stop acting like an aggrieved dissident and put all that energy into improving your skill set and expanding your catalog.


          1. MichaelL, thanks. I needed that advice. I am not built for the library business. I am outsmarted, outwitted, and outmaneuvered by you.

            On the other hand, I am not disgruntled or even angry at your comments. You are an older person and you do not care about young people. I never expected you to provide any guidance to people such as myself who are not “obedient” and aim to challenge the established business model. We are from two different worlds and could never see eye-to-eye. Thanks.

            1. @Synth Player: You really need to get over yourself. Just because someone does not agree with you does not mean they don’t care. Also pulling the “age” card (which you have done on more than one occasion) is a bit tiring.

              1. Thanks Musicman and Art.

                I do not think Synth Player is rude. I think he doesn’t understand, or just doesn’t like, some of the harsh realities of this business. I can’t change those realities.

                My advice to Synth and to any young person is to acquire as much knowledge in both music AND business as they can.

                But, you are right about the amount of time this takes, time the could and should be spent writing.


                1. One more bit of thought on this matter: I recognize that Synth Player and others are pursuing an “alternative” vision. That’s fine. I wish him well.
                  My advice, pertains to succeeding within the traditional library model. If that’s not what Synth wants to do then, to be fair, my advice is not relevant to him, or his goals.


            2. @ Synth.

              “On the other hand, I am not disgruntled or even angry at your comments. You are an older person and you do not care about young people.”

              Sorry synth. You do not know me. You have no basis for making that judgment. I DO care about young people starting in this business. That’s why I have given pro bono (I didn’t get paid) lectures on the music business at the local University of the Arts.

              ” I never expected you to provide any guidance to people such as myself who are not “obedient” and aim to challenge the established business model. We are from two different worlds and could never see eye-to-eye. Thanks.”

              I have been trying to provide you guidance, but you are not hearing what I am saying. Being a successful library composer (on the network level) has nothing to do with being “obedient” to the established business model. That is an emotional way of looking at things that has nothing to do with the reality of business.

              Just because I don’t give you the answers that you want to hear, doesn’t mean we would never see eye to eye.

              But, maybe you’re right about not being a library writer. We’re a different animal. Maybe you’re a pop star at heart, a DJ, a beat maker. If that’s you passion follow it.

              Best of luck,


          2. I actually should have used the word opinionated instead. I was referring to her comment “a company that doesn’t pay up front should throw up warning flags”.

            Overall I like what she had to say, and I always appreciate when people from the music libraries give their 2 cents.

            1. “I actually should have used the word opinionated instead. I was referring to her comment “a company that doesn’t pay up front should throw up warning flags”.

              @Musicman. Good point. I’ve been interviewed on a few radio shows. Sometimes it’s tough to think on your feet and find just the right words. That said. I prefer to get paid upfront OR retain the publishing (as in the RF model). Otherwise, I’d try to limit duration and/or get e reversion clause. Otherwise you’re giving up an asset for nothing in return. In contract law that’s referred to as “illusory.”



              1. Right on. The ironic thing is that some of the libraries APM represent don’t pay anything up front and they are exclusive. Sonic Elixer & Sonoton. Although I know that Sonoton use to give you some money towards production costs, but doubt they do anymore because of the luxary of home studios.

                A lot of libraries won’t offer a reversion clause because they’ll often have your music represented by other libraries world wide and it’s almost impossible for them to retract from their partners. That said, you’d likely get some pretty good placements with that much distribution therefore wouldn’t need the reversion clause.

                1. As one of my publishers says, “there is no such thing as the perfect track, just move on and write another one.”

                  Good luck and keep writing.


                2. Thanks. BTW I was on the fence about attending last night but didn’t feel up to the 2 hour trip up the turnpike. In your opinion would it be worth the trip for next time? More so for networking.

                3. Sounds like you’re close by. I better not aggravate you. 😆

                  I don’t know if you would get a lot out of it or not, other than seeing what the business is
                  really like, as opposed to all the speculation that goes on here.

                  I took the train.

                4. “Sounds like you’re close by. I better not aggravate you. :lol:” Haha, no worries I’m a nice guy. Well I know where to go if I need to speak with an attorney.

                5. >I know that Sonoton use to give you some money towards production costs, but doubt they do anymore because of the luxary of home studios…A lot of libraries won’t offer a reversion clause<

                  FWIW- I had some correspondence with Sonoton over the Summer. The offer was 50% of income, no upfront money and no reversion clause. I really like to see either upfront money or a reversion clause so I didn't submit any material.

      2. Yes I agree that some of her statements were inaccurate, although it was still informative and I like when people from that side of the business give their opinions. She sounded like she mainly supports the “buyout” model. I think she said something like not recommending putting your music into a library without anything upfront and trusting that they will make you money. If a library wants to pay 1k or more for a track, then yeah that’s a great deal, but I wouldn’t let that deter me from having music in a library that gives me the opportunity to make endless amounts on synch fees with nothing up front. I have music in both models (all exclusive though)and I prefer to be spread out like that.

        “She predicts that non exclusive libraries will go out of business in 3 to 5 years”. I agree that it’s going to get messy with digital fingerprint technology becoming more reliable and popular, but I don’t think that will mean the end of all non-exclusives. I do think that some of the non-exclusives will start becoming exclusive but still giving the same fair chance that they give composers now. If everyone is using tunesat who will be the judge of what library owns the publishing rights? Unless if they back out of the publishing completely and leave the writer to be their own publisher, but I can’t see that happening.

        1. “Yes I agree that some of her statements were inaccurate, ”

          @ Musicman. I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to Synth Player. Tell us which statements and what you basis is for disagreeing. What other information do you have that contradicts her statements?

          “She predicts that non exclusive libraries will go out of business in 3 to 5 years”.

          No, she said that “a lot” of the non exclusive libraries will go out of business in 3 to 5 years. I know that’s splitting hairs, but there is a difference. I does not mean that the business model itself is going away. Apart from that, it’s an unfortunate fact that most businesses fail in the first 5 years.

          What is likely to change is the client base for non exclusives. The larger, better and higher paying clients are going to gravitate toward exclusives because it’s cleaner. Some non-exclusives see the writing on the wall and are either becoming exclusive or building a separate exclusive catalog.

          “I have music in both models (all exclusive though)and I prefer to be spread out like that.”

          Yes. That is the smart approach. It’s what “Matt,” a successful MLR contributor does. It is a strategy that a number of writers follow. Once you spread your tracks around, the cat is out of the bag. If the non exclusive library that has your tracks exclusively goes exclusive, your good to go. If the same library has your tracks non-exclusively, what do you think will happen?

          A publishing catalog is an asset. It has value. If the music is high quality, the value grows over time. It’s an asset that can be sold. It’s like having money in the bank.
          A non-exclusive library does not own its catalog. It therefore does not have that valuable asset, upon which the company is built. It’s potentially far more transient.

          My approach would be the same as yours and Matt’s, because I see limiting your exposure in the non-exclusive platform as protecting the value of your music.

          For that sake of clarity by “non-exclusive” I mean the retitling licensing agent model. I am not including royalty free companies, because in many cases they do not re-title, and you retain ownership of your publishing.


      3. Hey Steve,

        Re-titled copyrights cannot legally be represented through MOST foreign PROs. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are among the only (if not THE only) PROS that allow multiple titles to be registered with different interested parties with the same copyright…

        1. “Re-titled copyrights cannot legally be represented through MOST foreign PROs. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are among the only (if not THE only) PROS that allow multiple titles to be registered with different interested parties with the same copyright…” – John Fulford

          John, I’d appreciate it if you’d explain this further after reading this:

          1. Among other things foreign PROs DO NOT allow retitling (in some instances it’s not legal). As such, many foreign sub-publishers just won’t touch re-titled tracks.

            But I’m sure John can elaborate. He has more foreign experience.

              1. I’m receiving them as well Art.

                I’m getting royalties from Canada, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Romania via the ASCAP connection.

                1. As with other things, I don’t think it’s an all or nothing situation. Just like hearing “a lot of the non exclusives will be out of business in 3-5 years,” and taking that to mean that the whole exclusive model will go away in three to five years. No, it means fewer players.

                  What I took away from the meeting was not that you’ll receive NO foreign money, but that your opportunities will be limited. You’ll potentially receive less foreign money. FIW, I receive foreign money from about 49 countries on exclusive tracks. YMMV

                  Perhaps if Ron reads this he will explain the role of sub-publishers in generating foreign money.


                  PS. John (the Other John) passed through your neighborhood last weekend going north and south for a film festival. Should have stopped for coffee!

                2. It would have been nice if I weren’t a recluse MichaelL. lol I don’t get out much. When I do it’s incognito.

          2. Hey John the other John,

            If you’re moving MAJOR cues through the system, it’s not wise to count on any domestic PRO to collect your foreign performance monies. For instance, many major domestic publishers count on Fuji Pacific in Japan to collect performance royalties from Japan and the rest of Asia..

            ASCAP does have great foreign protocols in place but they’ll be the first to tell you to find an International Administrator to collect royalties if there’s enough of your cues on Internationally distributed shows. If your cues are signed with a library acting as a “publisher”, then it’s the libraries duty to have all of their International collection in place.

            Foreign PROs have a policy of not accepting re-titled cues into their system. It’s one thing if a re-titled cue shows up on a cue-sheet in France, SACEM won’t know that the cue “Lamb Stew” was originally called “Beef Stew”, BUT it’s not PROBABLE (notice i didn’t say impossible) that a large re-title library can sign a deal with a French sub-publisher to focus on collecting those royalties..

            I have a small number of re-titled tracks back from 2006, and I’ve received foreign royalties on them as well. Sometimes (maybe even many times) the foreign monies on re-titled cues will make its way to the writer….

            In my specific and personal opinion, this foreign royalty re-title issue is minor. I don’t even bring it up when arguing against non-exclusive re-titling. I was just pointing out that the problem exists and Debra didn’t make it up.

            Maybe this is a good question for composers to ask non-exclusive libraries that they want to work with. Maybe some have found loopholes or have special deals with certain foreign PROs.

            1. Responding here to John Fulford,

              It discussing the foreign PROs under this thread some statements don’t seem to match up with our experience at AudioSparx regarding how the foreign PROs work with non exclusive libraries.

              Earlier, you stated above: “Re-titled copyrights cannot legally be represented through MOST foreign PROs…” yet now you say you have been collecting from these foreign PROs since 2006 for your own re-titled music tracks.

              And the PMA podcast statement that “non-exclusive libraries cannot represent music on an international level” seems a stretch, since we license music in different countries around the world every day – and collect from the foreign PROs — a clear indication that non-exclusive libraries can indeed represent music on an “international level.”

              Several statements in this thread simply do NOT comport with our experience in publishing management, nor do we find any need for “sub-publishers” to collect $$$ for our composers outside the USA. For every track where we manage publishing, we append “AALIBRARY” to each title, thus rendering them as “re-titled” music, and we have had no problems in registration or collection for our track usage, where applicable.

              In addition, several composers have posted above that they, too, regularly collect from the foreign PROs for their re-titled track placements outside the USA.

              To help clear up some of these issues on the subject of foreign PROs from a reality-based perspective, we recommend that our AudioSparx composers online might like to read our confidential article KB2354 (under our Knowledge Base tab).

              Art, this is such a great forum you have established for helping everyone learn more about this rapidly changing business, and we appreciate MichaelL’s reporting back following the PMA meeting…


              PS Check out our latest new website where will find some of our most talented composers from around the world:

              1. Hi Barbie,

                I tried to make a distinction between non-exclusives by clarifying that Royalty Free sites, such as AudioSparx are really a separate category. (not making a judgment call).

                When the PMA folks refer to non-exclusives they are referring mostly to libraries like Crucial and Jingle Punks, etc. They have a different business model than libraries like AudioSparx.
                Among other things, like traditional libraries, they select and reject tracks, and often proactively pitch tracks directly to music supervisors for specific projects.

                John Fulford did tangentially address the different business models when he used the qualifying term “MAJOR cues.” The exclusive libraries do use sub-publishers and sales representatives to, as John put it, move content “through the system.”

                Again, I think the position of the PMA, as I understood it was not that you won’t get ANY foreign money, but that retitling will limit your opportunities, because, among other things, many foreign sub-publishers simply will not accept retitled material.

                One final distinction, regarding RF sites: if the artist retains the publishing, then their tracks are generally not retitled (unless by the artist to avoid price shopping on different sites).



                1. “Again, I think the position of the PMA, as I understood it was not that you won’t get ANY foreign money, but that retitling will limit your opportunities, because, among other things, many foreign sub-publishers simply will not accept retitled material” – MichaelL

                  In all fairness, actually Ann Donahue stated “If your with a non-exclusive library, they can’t rep your music on an international level” and then stated; “you can’t license your music internationally” (if your non-exclusive). A little different than “retitling will limit your opportunities” MichaelL.

                  Anyway, the video had a lot of interesting viewpoints. It would have been nice to have a non-exclusive representative along with Donahue on that podcast.

                2. Sorry John, I should have been more clear. What I said was based on discussions that were had at the PMA meeting, last Thursday, not the podcast.

                  What you heard on the podcast was an truncated version of the issue, without a lot of explanation for the basis of her statement, most likely so that they could cover a number of issues in 9 minutes.




                  In his October 7, post Ron Mendelsohn referred to his article

                  Here is the part that is relevant to the issue of foreign royalties.

                  “Another little known but critically important fact is that non-exclusive retitled catalogs miss out on significant revenue streams related to international distribution. Since libraries are generally represented by territory on an exclusive basis, retitled libraries technically cannot enter into these deals (to the extent that they do anyway, they are in breach of their contract). To drill down further, in many foreign territories music licensing is strictly controlled by mechanical copyright societies such as MCPS (UK), SDRM (France) and AMCOS (Australia). These societies, who are responsible for the vast majority of licensing in their respective territories, set the rates for music licenses as well as collect and distribute payments to composer and publisher members. In order for works to be represented by these societies, they must be the exclusive agents for their territory. Since non-exclusive content is often made available on websites or drives without regard to international borders, these catalogs do not qualify for registration and consequently their international income potential is severely limited. In the event a publisher or website representing non-exclusive content does attempt to register tracks with one of these mechanical societies, both the writer and the publisher will be in a potential breach of contract situation.”

                  I refer you to the whole article.

                3. Understood MichaelL.

                  Though when seeing one-sided podcasts, newscasts, etc, with people playing the spokesperson for organizations, one can be fairly sure there’s a biased agenda being shoved down the listener’s throat. Should always be taken with a grain of salt – or maybe a grain of sugar to sweeten it up. 😀

                  We can discuss this further the next time you pass through my habitat. 😀

                  Best, John 🙂

              2. Hey Barbie,

                I think my post was pretty clear, I explained that a foreign PRO would not realize a certain title was “re-titled”, and pay out anyway. They’re not going to go out of their way to stop paying composers and publishers because a track is re-titled…

                I said the problem comes up when a re-title library tries to sign a foreign sub-publishing deal, which you just said Audiosparx has not done. Looks like we’re on the same page here?

                1. John,

                  I think it’s kind of like apples and oranges, since essentially the foreign PROs can plainly see what is a standalone title vs. one that has the library’s ID attached, which of course identifies it as “re-titled” in the current lingo. For example, they accept and pay out for tracks overseas with titles like this:

                  Sweet Valentine AALIBRARY (AudioSparx re-title)

                  CM1000 Happy Valentine (Crucial Music re-title)

                  And so forth for Jingle Punks and other libraries. The foreign PROs work very much like ASCAP and BMI, and pay the proper party with no sweat, near as we can tell. While that is not re-titling per se, just appending the library’s ID to assure they receive the Publisher’s share for their placement of the track, whether in the US or in foreign markets.


                2. On the other hand collecting on the foreign sub-publishing money (not talking about PRO money) can be problematic. I had a buddy who ran a major publishing company and many times he had to go to a specific country to collect. Some of those visits got a bit unpleasant. 😉

                3. ditto.

                  Sub-publishing is the issue that came up with respect to retitling and foreign at the meeting.

                4. Maybe someone can answer this question pertaining to digital fingerprinting.

                  I compose a lot of piano solos. If I make three separate recordings of the same tune (using the identical music manuscript), will digital fingerprinting identify these as three separate entities?

                  I think it will since every performance would have slight differences in tempo, dynamics, phrasing, etc.

                  That would be one way to work around this re-titling dilemma. Just make separate recordings of the same music, change the titles, and send each recording to a different non-exclusive library.

                  I have done this occasionally where I’d send a slow version of a track to one non-exclusive library and a moderate tempo of the same track to another one.

                5. I asked the folks at tunesat a similar question, a while back. Yes, slight variations in tempo, instrumentation and pitch will yield a different fingerprint. So, in theory, you could slow the track down, speed it up, or transpose it a half step in any direction and…..

                  Taking it one step further, I wonder if doing one version on say the Ivory German D, and then a second version on the Ivory Bosendorfer would be enough…probably. The tone is sufficiently different.

                  What do you think Art. One version on a Martin and then another on a Washburn? Different enough sound? In that case probably yes by virtue a being a live performance. Same notes, but not in the exact same places.

                  Give tunesat a call. They’ll be happy to answer you question in detail.

                6. “Taking it one step further, I wonder if doing one version on say the Ivory German D, and then a second version on the Ivory Bosendorfer would be enough…probably.” MichaelL

                  That would be an easy fix MichaelL.

  3. Hello MichaelL,
    I am also new to this world. Just wondering, don’t the “top end” production libraries also take a cut of the publishing? Or is it for other reasons they have a problem with the re-title libraries?

    1. “Just wondering, don’t the “top end” production libraries also take a cut of the publishing? Or is it for other reasons they have a problem with the re-title libraries?”

      Hi euca,

      Generally top end libraries take 100% of the publishing and you keep 100% of the writers share of the backend. The library owns the copyright.

      Other specifics vary. Some libraries pay upfront money but, do not split sync fees. Others do not pay upfront money, but do split sync fees.

      I think the Ron Mendelsohn stated the top end libraries’ position earlier in this thread, although he left out details, like how going through non-exclusives “deprives” writers of international royalties. I can’t speak for the non-exclusive model. But, as far as the exclusive model goes, I’ve received royalties from 49 countries.

      The obvious thing is that if the library pays upfront money, sometimes a lot, maybe $1,000 per track, AND they hire an orchestra in some cases, they’ve got A LOT of skin in the game, compared to a situation where people just throw music at them hoping something sticks.

      I’m not criticizing the non-exclusive model, but their investment for acquiring music is minimal compared to the exclusive model. So, in theory, it’s a competitive advantage, because they are competing very successfully against the established model, at a fraction of the cost, which ironically is something most businesses try to do. Generally competing successfully, at a fraction of the cost is applauded in our culture. Wall Street likes companies that do that.

      The other factor, which you may glean from reading this forum, is the issue of ownership. The traditional exclusive libraries OWN the copyright to your music. Under the non-exclusive model, you retain ownership of your music. Ownership is power, and very few people like to give power up.

      Putting the fact the I am a composer aside, I find the legal arguments fascinating. My favorite subject in law school was antitrust law. We studied a lot of cases where companies banded together in an attempt to control competition and prices,sometimes through an association.
      I’m not sure that there was anything sinister going on in some of those cases, just people honestly thinking they were doing the right thing, doing what’s good for their business and its survival. I hear echoes of those cases in the conflict between the traditional and new library models, and it intrigues me. Just an observation.

      The bottom-line is that you have a struggle between an older way of doing things and a new way of doing things. One has a lot to lose and the other has a lot to gain. It’s not a new story and it always causes friction (just look at politics in the US).

      How will it play out? There have been undeniable major shifts in the industry since I started writing. When I wrote my first library tracks, there were no computers, no samples, no midi, etc. You had to write music on paper, hire musicians, go into a studio and record. With the advent of computers and midi that changed, but for the first few decades the music pretty much sounded like crap. That’s all different now. You can make GREAT music with a computer and samples. Consequently, as we know, there are a lot more people making music, and trying to license it.

      The traditional libraries are now online instead of on vinyl, but their business model hasn’t changed since the Eisenhower administration. Then, along comes the non-exclusive model with a much leaner-meaner model. To be sure, the non-exclusicve model is not without its faults, the most obvious is source identification. This will be a problem when the PROs (who haven’t changed since the Truman administration) embrace digital technology and do away with cue sheets.

      Everything changes. NOTHING stays the same. The library business is a lot more egalitarian than it used to be. I do not know whether the traditional model will cease to exist. I hope not. I think, that technology like fingerprinting/watermarking will be a short term problem for the non-exclusive model, which will ultimately be solved by other advances in technology.

      Do I think the non-exclusive model will fail or go away. No. Ownership –the individuals’ ownership of their intellectual property is a powerful incentive. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, giving individuals the power to produce, market and control their own works, you cannot turn the clock back.

      So…the short answer euca, is that traditional libraries feel threatened by the success of the new model. They will need to adapt to the new business environment to survive (just ask Darwin. It’s not about strength, it’s about adapting to survive)

      Competition is a good thing. It motivates innovation (adapting). Stifling competition is a bad thing.

      There’s my 75cent worth.


      1. “There’s my 75cent worth” Wow, I’ll give you more like $1.50 on that. THANKS!!

        That gives me more light on the subject, it is a confusing subject, so much information.

        I have thanked Art many times on this site for his knowledge and the site itself, but I also would like to give thanks to YOU and all the other seasoned composers for all the valuable information that you have supplied to the newbies. I really can’t thank you enough!!

        I will go back and read Ron Mendelsohn’s post.

        Do non-exclusives not pay international royalties? If not, why?

          1. On the issue of international royalties and non-exclusives, I strongly suspect that retitling composers are missing out on the bulk of their performing royalties. This is because libraries and music catalogs are traditionally administered overseas on an exclusive basis in each territory. These local agents handle placements, title registration, delivery systems, admin, service, etc. Without these local agents administering a catalog, placements and royalties will be severely limited.

      2. Many good points, Michael, and a lot that I agree with. I wish to make a few clarifications however:
        a) Believe it or not, for the most part we do not compete with non-exclusive libraries. 99% of the time we are competing against other exclusive PMA libraries. This is because we are dealing with the high end of the market (film/TV/broadcast) that does not want to deal with the hassles involved with retitled music. High end clients in film/TV are increasingly shunning retitled libraries due to confusion over who sourced the cue. In addition, these clients tend to prefer dealing with reputable, full service libraries that can guarantee 100% worldwide sync and master clearance without any lingering copyright concerns. There is already more than ample exclusive content out there to serve the needs of the film/TV/broadcast industry, so there is no reason on earth for them to resort to using retitled content, not to mention the fact that there are sometimes quality concerns with these libraries as they are generally less selective and will often accept anything content-wise.
        b) The PROs do not want to deal with retitled content since it just clogs up their databases without increasing their repertory as well as runs counter to their efforts to move towards fingerprinting solutions. Retitled content does not help PROs command higher licensing fees; it just adds to their admin costs, which means less money for composers and publishers.
        c) From my perspective, the retitled library model for film/TV placements is a model that will die out eventually due to the above issues. However, on the low end of the market (non-broadcast/Internet) I can see how this model can continue to thrive. The problem for composers, however, is that there is no backend available for these low-end placements since they are not broadcast and also due to the fact that many of these Internet-based stock companies do not even bother to register titles with the PROs. In any event, if my forecast is correct, these companies will have more of an impact on the buyout/royalty-free model than on the exclusive model.
        d) In sum, yes the world is changing, but there are some things that never change: service, quality, reliability and reputation.
        e) For the full text of my original article on retitling, please check out this link:

        1. Ron,

          Thanks again for taking the time to reply and inform. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I tend to agree that everything will eventually find it’s own level. Technology is going to play a hugh part in all of it.

          I’m really interested is seeing how exclusives like Megatrax see the future. I’ve been thinking about going to the PMA meeting in NY on the 20th. Maybe this is a good reason to go!



  4. I am still very much a newbie in this world of exclusives/royalty free/PRS’s/retitling etc etc but it seems to me the production music world is changing and it seems like the performing rights societies and the top end of the production music world don’t want that change because it undercuts their control of the market. It would be very hard for someone like me to break into the top end of the market although that is one of my long term aims so I am very happy that I can put my music on sites like Revostock and AmbientMusicGarden and at least start working my way towards some sort of living from music. If the Performing Rights Societies weren’t so inflexible and protectionist in there approach then I can’t see why retitlig would be needed. It would be a simple case of informing them of any exemption you choose to make.
    In the end the market will decide the future and if that means a more even playing field for the musicians and a more even spread of the financial rewards then I am all for it. Here in the UK we have a National Lottery where sometimes one person wins a phenominally large sum of money. If that money were divided into smaller amounts you could have a hundred peoples lives transformed instead of just one.
    Just my two penneth!

    1. Hi mylesthebaker,

      I believe the the non-exclusive libraries that the “top end” production libraries have issue with are of the licensing agent model, like Crucial and Jingle Punks, etc. In that scenario the library/licensing agent re-titles your track and takes a percentage of the publishing.

      With many of the royalty free libraries you are only splitting the sale/sync fee. In most cases, you retain your publishing rights. There are exceptions, of course, like when you choose to have AudioSparx administer your catalog.

      The “royalty free” model, which really means no additional sync fees, has been around for a long time. I did over 200 tracks for a RF library back in the 1980’s. At that time, media producers, most of the time in house corporate producers, did not want to pay a “needle drop” fee every time they used a particular piece of music. The basic concept still applies.

      FYI, on another issues, if your are a member of PRS, check with Guy at AMG. It was pointed out on MLR yesterday that AMG does not want you to belong to a PRO.



      1. Hello Michael
        I understand what you are saying.
        I quit the PRS in the UK for the very reason they wanted to restrict what I did with my music.
        I guess if I start getting in to situations where royalties become an issue I will have to look at retitling.

  5. It is futile to try to devise various workarounds for retitling since this business model is fundamentally flawed.
    This practice does not benefit anyone except the retitling companies who are trying to broker content that they neither own nor control. These libraries are confusing for clients to deal with, they are not earning any money for composers, and they certainly do not benefit the PROs either since their databases are being clogged up with thousands of retitled tracks which just adds to their overhead and admin costs while not increasing their repertoire. Composers are losing out since they are unable to participate in lucrative international revenue streams, and increasingly their performances are not being picked up as the PROs steadily move towards utilizing fingerprinting technology to track performances. It is time for the industry to stand up and put an end to this shady practice once and for all and start supporting business models that are sustainable for the long term. We need to promote business models that support copyright and enhance the value of music, as opposed to practices like retitling which commoditize music and operate in the grey area of copyright law.

    1. I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, exclusive libraries participate in some of the same shenanigans as non-exclusive lbraries. Also, exclusive libraries really do not work hard enough to build or promote their catalogs.

      At the end of the day, exclusive libraries have to take initiative and stop complaining. They aren’t exactly working hard to stop the non-exclusive libraries. Exclusives have to step their game up if they plan on surviving. I know of a few exclusives that are on the verge of going out of business because their business model and business dealings are out of touch with the current market.

      By the way, how is business for your library?

      1. I am not aware of any “shenanigans” being perpetrated by any exclusive libraries, at least not by any of the PMA libraries which adhere to a code of conduct and a standard of core values as published on the PMA website. Nor do I agree with your statement that exclusive libraries are not “exactly working hard to stop the non-exclusive libraries”. It is not our responsibility to “stop them”; it is the mission of the PMA to educate people so they can make an informed decision about who they want to work with.
        As far as I know, business remains strong for all the exclusive libraries (at least those that are members of the PMA), but that is beside the point. The real question is this: what we can do as a community to help foster sustainable business practices for the industry as a whole, as opposed to sending out the same track to 20 different non-exclusive libraries and slapping a different title on each copy in an attempt to make a quick buck? I do not quite understand why anyone would want to voice support for a business model that devalues music and creates rampant confusion in the marketplace.

        1. “I am not aware of any “shenanigans” being perpetrated by any exclusive libraries, at least not by any of the PMA libraries which adhere to a code of conduct and a standard of core values as published on the PMA website.”

          Really? So, why do you think I became a lawyer?

          To be fair, being perpetrated is present tense, and the actions involved are in the past, though the economic effects continue.

        2. I believe that both the exclusive and non-exclusive business models are sustainable and both will be around to cater to their own markets. There are good and bad things with both models. Ultimately it is up to the end users to work with the libraries that benefit them.

          I understand your frustration, Ron. But having one professional trash another business model on a public forum is just in bad taste. You are not educating anyone or even making a valid argument for the exclusive business model. Tell us what you and your company are specifically doing to help composers make more money. Tell us how working with your company provides greater benefits than working with other companies.

          Show & prove, my friend. Show & prove.

          1. “Show & prove, my friend. Show & prove.”

            Synth –see paragraph in this thread regarding too much attitude. Taking that kind of combative stance with the owner of an established exclusive library — any library — any prospective employer/client is not the best way to establish dialogue, or negotiate.


          2. I am sorry but I disagree. As I’m sure the moderator of this forum would agree, discussing the pros and cons of various library business models is well within the purview of this forum. At Megatrax, we have been employing composers for 20 years and doing everything possible to treat them fairly and ensure that they receive all the royalties that they are entitled to, so frankly I think that your attitude is misdirected.

    2. Thanks for coming by Ron. Always great to see you here and hear your point of you.

      I think I may be coming around to your way of thinking. The dilemma for me has always been how to get to the larger exclusive libraries and, if I did, what to do with the music that didn’t get accepted. I think a lot of my music would most likely get turned down by a major library. Not trying to slam my own music, in fact I like very much what I do, it’s a bit utilitarian but has a definite purpose and gets placed consistently. But I do understand the big picture dilemma. I wish I had a solution.

      As far as tracking uses, I do have a Tunesat account and I find that it tracks fairly close to my BMI statement.

      1. Thanks for hosting this forum, Art. I understand your predicament. My suggestion, as I have made to many composers before, is to approach exclusive libraries with a completed album instead of sending individual tracks or demos. The album should be well-researched and pre-formatted in the library’s usual format (e.g., edits, versions, etc.). Pitching individual tracks to a library or sending them a demo is a bit of a long shot. But if a composer is willing to do his/her homework and figure out what a library needs and present a finished product, it becomes much easier for a library to make an offer (be sure to keep 100% of your writer’s share). Of course, it has to be good and it has to be something that the library needs.

        1. Ron,

          I think your response highlights one of the key differences between the exclusive library format and the non-exclusive approach, i.e., the complete collection with edits, etc, vs. one off cues.

          A lot of writers are used to working the latter format. Thus, the non-exclusive libraries provide a venue for their work.

          Questions like; “do I have to do all those edits?” and “what if I can’t make it fit 60 seconds?” illustrate a key difference between library composers and writers simply trying to license their music.

          Thanks for your informative response.



        2. Thanks Ron,

          That’s great advice and will seriously consider that approach. I’ve been in the biz a long time but only in the library world a few years. So, I guess it’s true, you “Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks!”. Now, if I can only get my ADD under control and focus!

    3. Mr. Mendelsohn,

      As a writer, turned lawyer, turned writer again, I AM uneasy about re-titling. I agree with you on the legally gray aspects of the practice. But, I’m also uneasy about telling the vast majority of composers to give up and keep their day job, because the doors to exclusive libraries will never be open to them. And, that is the root of the problem. Ninety-nine percent of the writers out there have no other option.

      I would love to write for Megatrax. But even though I’ve written hundreds of tracks for six exclusive libraries, currently have three theme songs running on FOX and CW, and have had CD on the charts as an artist, I’m sure that I would have a very hard time getting in the front door.

      I am a composer, a lawyer, and a business person. My solution, treating each non-exclusive library as if it is exclusive would not be a re-title workaround, because the tracks would not be re-titled, thus avoiding all of the shady issues. I see that as a viable option for writers who would otherwise be foreclosed from the business.

      Kind regards,


        1. Hi Ron,

          Thank you for your reply. I read your informative response to Art.

          That is exactly the approach that I would take. I’ve been at this for 30+ years. My first “album” was for NFL in 1978. Unless asked to do otherwise, I always write a complete collection (10 tracks), with full, :60, :30, :15 versions and a bed mix.

          Of course, I am also used to having the library tell me what they need, with respect to genres.
          Do you have any advice for “figuring out” what library like Megatrax might be in need of, short of listening to 20,000 tracks?

          Kind regards,


    4. Hi Ron,

      I tend to agree with you and as such have been working to have the bulk of my music in reputable exclusives, while maintaining a small non-exclusive catalogue aimed at the lower budget market.

      Like Michael, I too would be very happy to sign work to Megatrax. Are you in the market for new trailer composers? I’d love to be invited to submit demos for consideration.

      If your producers would be interested in previewing what I do:

      Everything on page one bar the percussion set are currently unsigned and after a good home.



        1. Hi Ron,

          Thanks for replying. I’m a bit biased as to my music, but I have had some accepted by Immediate if that’s any indication. So it’s probably more a question of does what I do ‘fit’ your catalogue and clients? Some, I think so, particularly the industrial guitar/electronica/hybrid stuff.

          In any case, I note your reply above to Art about submitting an album developed to a publisher’s normal format. Thanks for that suggestion.

  6. It probably will never happen but I wish re-title libraries would come up with a joint standard whereby they only re-title the way Crucial does– the original title with a tag added. Composers could sign that the title submitted is their one and only copyrighted title for the work. (Yes, composers could lie but it would be breach of contract).

    This would at least allow end users to know when they are getting the same track from multiple sources. It would not solve all problems but it could be a step in a good direction.

    1. OR….

      You could do as several composers that I am aware of do (and what I will probably do),
      treat the non-exclusive library as if it IS exclusive, and not put that same tracks in more than one library — problem solved. Nobody is getting pitched the same track by three different libraries, and there’s no question as to where the track came from. But, that’s just me thinking like a lawyer. I like clean deals.

      Of course, when you write for an exclusive library, your tracks ARE only going into and getting pitched by one library. So, other than hitting people up with the same track three times (which no doubt annoys them) what’s the difference?

      This option, of course, would not apply to RF libraries, where you retain publishing, because it isn’t necessary.


      1. Not putting the same track in multiple non-exclusive libraries…. That’s not going to happen if left up to composers at large. (I know I do it)… I think either re-titling has to go away or a manageable approach needs to be enforced.

        I might be a dreamer here but if re-title libraries formed a “International Re-Title Libraries Association” and agreed on a standard (e.g. original title + tag), they might have much more clout with the networks who are becoming more and more wary of working with them.

  7. “Composers need to grow a backbone for themselves and fight for what they desire.”

    @synth, I agree with your thoughts in part. However, there is a fine line between protecting and promoting one’s interests and being an unprofessional thug. And, therein lies the danger with having too much attitude. You need to have just enough (confidence) to open doors, but not so much (going gangsta) that those doors get slammed in you face.

    John (the Other John) and Advice are correct, pestering networks to find out which library placed your track is not a good idea, which will only add fuel to the fire of those who are against the re-titling model.

    Being, at times, on either side of the buying and selling fence I know what aggravates me, and I try not to do it when I’m on the selling side. I know a musician who never stops promoting himself, even at social functions. He’d probably promote himself at a funeral. After about 30 seconds my eyes glaze over.



    1. Being a jerk is not a good idea. But being passive doesn’t lead to success either. I think that composers missing out on royalties should contact libraries first, PRO second, and networks third. Most discrepancies are usually handled by libraries, since they would also be losing money from not collecting the publisher’s royalties.

      The business can be a headache. That’s why it pays to take a break every now and then.

  8. “The panel members included: Catherine Farley (Disney ABC)”

    Wondering if anyone else received an email this week from Ryan Sager (ScoreKeepers) on Disney ABC’s reluctance in using non-exclusive composers. Seems their reluctance comes from composers calling the network after hearing their music on a show to make inquiries or right claims.

    Anyway, composers shouldn’t be pestering the Networks. That’s an issue with your PRO. Sometimes composers are their own worst enemies. Another nail in the non-exclusive’s coffin.

    1. I completely disagree with that statement. Composers are not their own worst enemies: they are often their only friend in this business! I never understood why composers are perceived as being dispensable morons who get in the way of business.

      Composers need to grow a backbone for themselves and fight for what they desire. PROS are not going to go to bat for composers. Neither will library owners, music supervisors, post-production companies, music publishers, or TV networks. It is unfortunate that companies think so lowly of composers. But it’s even worse for composers to think lowly of themselves.

      Stand up for yourselves, because no one else will.

      1. I was referring to pestering the Networks (rather than contacting their PRO) Synth Player.

        And yes, often the business choices composers make do make them their worst enemy. Didn’t work out very well for those composers pestering the Disney ABC people. It made it more difficult now for other non-exclusive composers trying to get placements on Disney ABC.

        “Growing a backbone for themselves and fighting for what they desire” is fine. Going in half-cocked and jeopardizing opportunities in the process is not.

        BTW, I agree that it’s “worse when composers think lowly of themselves”. I’m proud of being a composer. I think it’s an honorable profession.

    2. Both Scorekeepers and Indigi Music have recently let their composers know about this same problem. Composers who have the same track in multiple non-exclusive libraries will get a placement and not be sure which library made the placement. So they’ll pester the production company or network trying to find out.

      I don’t quite get that. On my ASCAP cue sheets, the publisher is always listed. So wouldn’t it be obvious which library made the placement? Maybe BMI doesn’t have cue sheets on line?

      Anyway, it’s pretty dumb to contact anyone but the libraries regarding something like this.


      1. No cue sheets online at BMI. Wish there was 🙁

        “Anyway, it’s pretty dumb to contact anyone but the libraries regarding something like this.”

        Not so dumb, depends. In my case I found an unauthorized use via my Tunesat account. Track was purchased from an RF site. They direct licensed it to ESPNU but did not have those rights. I called the network and they led me to the production company. Netted me $1500.

        1. Even if cue sheets aren’t on line, contacting your PRO in a case like that makes much more sense than contacting the network.

          I hear ya, Art, that there are some situations whereby the only route would be to contact the network. Glad you recovered that money! But just a “which library made that placement” question shouldn’t have to be taken to the network in the most common scenarios.


  9. There is a publishing company that holds 25% of the publishing on this song but I doubt that they did it, not on good terms with them right now, they would do me no favours.

  10. I had a song played on Today Show, twice. I didn’t know it until it showed up on my PRO statement. I don’t know how they got the song, I never sent it to them, and the only library that might have it would be Pump Audio. If they sent it to them, they(Pump) would have re-titled, so I would not have gotten the publishing amount, but I did get writers and publishers royalties. Good royalties for each spin too. It is a mystery to me.

    1. Hey EV, That’s good news. Always nice to get those surprise checks in the mail. Is there any other library or publisher that you have the song signed to that could’ve pitched it to the Today Show?

    1. Hey Jason, I checked out your site, really nice music! Just was wondering why you were switching to ASCAP from BMI. I’ve considered doing the opposite, so would be interested to hear your reason(s).

  11. Hello John,

    In answer to your question, the fingerprinting services are able to determine the type of production since their data is cross referenced against databases provided by broadcast media services. These services know what show was broadcast on each channel at a particular time, and it is relatively simple for the fingerprinting services to match their detections against this data. However, what is still missing is the TYPE of usage- the fingerprint cannot determine if the usage was program underscore or interstitial (promo, commercial, PSA).

    1. Though I have found that sometimes the detection and the shows do not match. In one instance detections indicated a number of episodes from a show in which I had no idea how they had gotten the music. When I called the production company they were as mystified as me. Turns out the company listened to the detection and determined it wasn’t their show, which I later confirmed. In another instance I had a cue that had supposedly ran on ABC World News. I was excited until I listened to the detection. Ah, not!

  12. Re: Fingerprinting.

    Will the fingerprinting software be able to detect the actual production that the piece of music is in?

    I could envision a piece of music with any title whatsoever being placed in a Final Cut timeline and a cue sheet entry automatically generated from that timeline reflecting all the necessary data about the production and have that data linked to that particular title. When the fingerprinting search picks up that show, it would be great if it was able to cross reference the piece of music with the cue sheet from that show. I’m not sure how this could be done technically, but it seems like something to shoot for.


    John Mazzei

    1. Good question! Before someone who actually knows the answer responds, I’d guess that currently the system in place wouldn’t actually ‘detect’ the production, but would already know it because there would be a log that keeps track of what the fingerprinting software is listening to.
      The only thing missing from a cue sheet would then be the usage – BI, VI, VV, BV, F, THM etc. I wonder if it’s even possible to automate the detection of that.

  13. Hi Matt,

    In response to your question, yes if you are hosting audio from one central server without distributing hard drives or other distribution devices then yes, it would be relatively easy to batch watermark the content. But you would still have to deal with unwatermarked legacy content that was previously downloaded by your clients. And the main problem is that the PROs are not paying on watermarked detections so the whole effort would be futile anyway. Regarding cue sheets, watermarking has no affect on cue sheets since watermark detections do not indicate the context of the performance, they only indicate the time, duration and source of the broadcast. This is not enough information to fill out a cue sheet. But the main point is that watermarking technology is quite primitive compared to fingerprinting, which is where most of the development is happening these days.

    1. Yep, I do think fingerprinting is the future. I’m amazed at how accurate the detections are on my Tunesat account. Sometimes I have to really strain through the dialog and SFX to hear the music but it’s there, detected and I can recognize it as mine.

  14. Thanks Art (and all) for attending this event!
    It’s not easy to get around to all the important events, especially if one is not located in a film industry hub.
    Your efforts to bring this back and share it are greatly appreciated. For the last year, I’ve been struggling with these notions of (re-titling/non-exclusives etc.) I was lucky enough (for a while) to have a direct connect to compose/license via a production company, but changes in economic environments and the desire to create more artful works / IP assets than are generally practical to do/use for ‘filler’ music for reality TV or commercial/corporate projects, has caused me to really pause before jumping. The dialog here has been very helpful in assisting in making a reasonably sound evaluation to develop my business expansion and direction!
    Much Love:)
    T. Reed/TAO X Productions

  15. Watermarking is not a solution. We have had experience watermarking tracks using various systems and it is a huge hassle. Everytime the technology changes, the tracks need to be re-watermarked again. Now imagine doing that for a library with tens of thousands of tracks. Plus the fact that watermarking does nothing for “legacy” data, meaning the huge volume of music that is already released in the marketplace. Most importantly, the PROs are not paying based on watermarks and they are in fact moving away from watermarking and very quickly adopting fingerprinting (audio recognition) solutions. I can assure you first-hand that these fingerprinting technologies are evolving rapidly and they can very successfully identify tracks. It is very clear to those in the industry that fingerprinting is the solution for the future, not watermarking.

    1. Thanks Ron, I appreciate you taking the time to set the record straight. From what you’re saying, I guess a re-titling showdown is inevitable. Unless someone comes up with a way to efficiently (cheaply) watermark 10’s of 1000’s of tracks, and then re-deliver all the legacy data to clients who already have the music on their shelves and in their servers. A huge undertaking that mostly benefits re-titling libraries.
      If everything was digital, accessed online by editors and music supervisors, might it be possible though?
      What if it meant the end of filling out cue sheets? An integrated system that automatically fills out cue sheets might entice everyone (PROs, libraries, broadcasters) to work towards a sweeping solution like a complete overhaul of how music is tracked and identified.

    1. Is that because the process of adding the watermark meant adding audio signal to an already mastered track? If so, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt the audio quality much to run a limiter, slight decrease in gain, or similar finishing tool over the track.
      Admittedly, I’m not well versed on the subject, but it seems that digital watermarking is a promising solution to the looming re-titling train wreck.

  16. Art,

    Thanks for attending the PMA panel and for expressing your candid views on the subject. My intention by writing the article was to provoke debate on this issue, and I am glad to see that that is happening. Regarding the PMA panel being “self-serving”, I can understand why it might appear that way, however it is important to mention that we extended invitations to several retitling libraries and that none of them was willing to show up to defend their business model. Please also note that no one on the panel suggested that retitling involves “loss of copyright”; it was merely pointed out that titles are not copyrightable and therefore that retitlted libraries may not sue for infringement and may not have the right to negotiate direct licenses. Finally, I regret that we left you with the impression that “the sky is falling”; the purpose of the panel was to educate and inform, which is an important part of the PMA’s mission.

    1. Hi Ron,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it and I’m sure everyone else here does too.

      I agree that it would have been helpful for some of the retitling libraries to have attended the meeting as it would have made for a more balanced discussion.

      As I noted above I did come away with my eyes opened a bit wider about the potential problems with non-exclusives and retitling. Still, for some of us, the non-exclusive approach works best, at least for now.

      Take care


  17. Ive always KNOWN that retitling would come a cropper one day, and i assumed that it would take another 10 to 15 years due to the sheer volume of music out there and the potential of enough lawsuits to sink a developed country, in terms of costs. However, going by Art’s report above, it seems that it might all happen within 5 years or even less.

    At the end of the day, someone will lose out, and others will win, which is no change there. But the real issue of restoring value to cue music, will be redressed in favour of the artist AND their rights will hopefully be restored and re-evaluated in their favour, too.

  18. I had a situation a couple of years ago where a song that was re-titled accidentally listed the library as the writer. Luckily the library owner contacted me to let me know what had happened and got the issue fixed with BMI. I was even able to get back pay for the mistake.

  19. About Re-titling, has anybody ever had a ReTitle library register the Original title of a Song and Not the NEW TITLE with them getting 100% publishing. Im trying to correct this BS right now

    1. Yeah, InDigi Music did that to me on three songs. She missed the prefix I had for those three. Nicole has put in a correction to BMI but it can take awhile (according to her) for BMI to correct.

    2. I had a library retitle one of my tracks with a new word that was one letter different than my original title. They said they wouldn’t pitch my tracks to my existing clients….but they did. So they’re collecting money for a track that I placed myself. They’re being pretty cool about it, but I had to show them a heap of proof that the Music Supervisor know of my track before i even started working with the library.

      Can someone tell me a benefit of re-titling?

  20. Hey All,

    I’ve been out of the loop for a few days. My OS drive died and took most of my audio applications with it. Then, a major storm snapped the utility pole behind my house, and I had now power or internet for sveral days. Ouch!

    The PMA info is interesting. It seems like the debate will rage on. The self-interested position of the exclusives is a bit transparent. But, to that I say, if you want non-exclusive libraries to go away, prepare to open your doors and your checkbooks to the composers who are knocking. Otherwise, how are you going to keep people from looking for alternatives.

    Art — what did the trademark / copyright attorney have to say?

    @ Matt, I agree that technology is likely to provide a solution before the law changes.

    That said — I’m following John Fulford’s advice and going solo — once I reload my computer that is.



    1. Ouch, sorry to hear that Michael.

      The attorney on the panel pretty much concurred with the panel and thought deeper issues could lay ahead.

  21. HA spread them around like manure. EXACTLY. That’s already what these non-exclusive “libraries” are full of.

  22. I am more confused than ever now!

    I think non-exclusive libraries can be good for some composers, but I do not know if they would work for me. There is so much info but there is no real guidance. How can I tell if I am getting scammed by non-exclusives? Which ones are the good ones? Music is too confusing. I just want to put my songs in a good library and make some money.

    1. “I just want to put my songs in a good library and make some money” – Eddy

      Yeah, if only it was as easy as that.

      It’s more a trial and error business. Even a great library may not make you money. Just make sure there’s a reversion clause in any contract you sign. Then if a library isn’t working for you, there’s a way out.

      Non-exclusive may be your best option for your situation. As you create new tracks, spread them around like manure and see if something starts to bloom.

      1. Hi Eddy,
        Keep in mind that “non-exclusive” is simply a terminology for a type of deal. It’s not a representation of weather or not a library is good. Personally I’ve made more money out of non-exclusive libraries than from exclusive ones. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t sign to exclusive deals again, but know that every library has it’s own way of doing things. Some better than others.

        I’d try to get them into “exclusives” first. If you don’t get any bites, than try some of the more prominent non-exclusive libraries. There are a handful that are a bit more picky and won’t just take everything you throw at them.

  23. Hi Art,
    Thanks for taking the time to post this.

    Based on what I’ve been hearing lately from other sources AND from what you saw this week, it looks like the Networks are continuing to move away from the re-titling process. Comments like “go exclusive or get out of the business” does seem like the old business model, but these are the folks we’re trying to get our music to.

    Although I don’t think that non-exclusive deals are going to disappear anytime soon, I do think that maybe the best approach “for now” would be for the composer to treat non-exclusive deals as if they were exclusive.

    Say you a catalog of 200 songs. Pick about 5 non-exclusive libraries that have proven they can really work at getting you placements and divide up your songs where each only get 40 songs.

    Sure this is not as productive as given 5 libraries 200 songs, but considering the way things are going, I can’t think of another “better” solution. Also, waiting on the PRO’s to do something about this is like waiting for rain in the Sahara…:) Composers (and publishers) need to take the initiative.

    Again, Thanks for keeping us posted..

    1. Just to clear up one point. The “go exclusive or get out of the business” comment was made by one of the two music libraries represented on the panel, not by any of the other panel members.

      Also I like the idea of treating the non-exclusive libraries as exclusive and is the direction I have been heading.

  24. I don’t think the cable networks will stop using retitling libraries. They need a ton of music for all their reality shows & they won’t want to pay per cue, especially since they have got the music so cheap for so long now.

    I myself would like to sign with a pay upfront library, but like Art has also stated those doors appear very closed, I keep knocking, but noone ever answers. sometimes retitle libraries are the only option.

    1. Hey boss,

      If you have enough cues, you can go directly to the cable networks. I did that when i was a 21 year old jitter bug with no clue as to what i was doing. If it worked for me it can work for anyone.

      1. Hey John,
        I’d love to take this approach. Did you already have the contacts? If not, how did you get em’

        1. I had no contacts. I started with a weekly edition of The Hollywood Reporter. Everything else i figured out by myself..

          This was before DVRs were common place. With the internet and a DVR you can have a music library up and running in two business days…

            1. Probably to record the various shows, listen to the types of music, look for end credits and the production company names. John?

              1. Hey Art,

                That’s one way to use it, the other is alot more useful. I can’t give that secret away over the internet!!

                1. HAHAHA

                  I’ll share a tip…order The Hollywood Reporter magazine, weekly edition. I’d get it delivered to my place in Florida before i moved to LA. They have listings of movies/tv shows in production.

                  Call up movies and TV shows you think your music would fit with, it takes a lot of nerve, but I’d end up talking to about 2 new music supervisors each week. Great way to build your contact list!!

  25. One thing that was briefly touched on at the end of the panel was the issue of GRATIS licenses, which are licenses that pay NO money up front.

    More and more TV production companies are only issuing gratis licenses to ilbraries/composers. One main reason is because if they paid blanket fees to libraries, they’re afraid of double/tripple/quadruple paying for the SAME CUES, since many people put their cues in different libraries.

    The libraries that keep their music exclusive are known to get small but respectable license fees on a PER SHOW basis, since they can use their exclusivity as a selling point. Although as a composer, you probably won’t benefit from the blanket license fee unless the library goes to the cue-sheets to find out which cues were used, and pays out a cut of the blanket fee accordingly. Some libraries do pay out a piece of the blanket, some do not.

    I guarantee once all of the networks stop using non-exclusive re-titlers, those libraries that are left will see an INCREASE in license fees (benefitting libraries AND composers), due to the evaporation of overpaying blanket fees, as well as a sharp decrease in the amount of claims/lawsuits brought by “misunderstandings” that are proven more prevalent among non-exlusive re-title libraries.

    Treat your music like an asset instead of a commodity and you will be handsomely rewarded!

    1. Thanks John, great point. Networks, like all businesses, are driven by the bottom line so I wonder if they will indeed stop using retitlers. I think the solution will come from somewhere else.

      1. I think there’s already a viable solution – digital watermarking. Instead of just relying on audio recognition (like the iPhone apps that allow your phone to recognize music playing in a bar), the libraries, PROs, and broadcasters can get around the whole re-titling issue by working with an inaudible signal embedded in a music file. Software can then detect the watermark, which would contain writer and publisher info. This type of watermark is used in the film and TV world to track copies like awards screeners and rough cuts given to composers to work on.

        The only issue is the workload and cost of a library having to add watermarks to its entire catalog. I’m not sure how it can be done in a more efficient manner other than one track, one edit at a time. No doubt there are companies that specialize in watermarking audio and video. Hopefully this is the magic bullet that we’re all waiting for, and these companies will soon be getting a lot more work.

          1. Hi Art, I’m not exactly sure about that, but I assume the watermarking is at a frequency that is detectable and not removed by TV or radio broadcasting.

            1. The watermarking issue has been around since the analog days and always the “golden ear” folks have been very vocal in that it degrades the quality of the music. AND they can hear it!

  26. Art-

    First off, thanks for sharing…very informative.

    Can you tell me: When they talk about re-title libraries, are they including those libraries that leave the title intact but add to the beginning or end? (i.e. the track is originally titled “New Day” and the library changes it to “XYZ – New Day”)

    Or are they only talking about libraries that completely change the title?

    Or are they talking about both scenarios?

    1. Both scenarios are a problem for them though I think the original title, with an ID before or after, is a better solution than a totally different title. We are indeed heading to detection of use through fingerprinting so we still have the problem of multiple registrations for one detection.

      1. What I don’t understand is who would be the person/company to submit the digital fingerprint? If a track is in 3 different libraries under 3 different titles, who would submit the waveform? If it’s the original copyright holder, which makes the most sense, then wouldn’t the PRO pay that person/company automatically? If it’s one of the 3 libraries, wouldn’t they get paid to the exclusion of the other 2? This can become extremely complicated and frustrating for everyone involved.

        1. Aye, there’s the rub. The devil will be in the details and the PROs need to come up with a solution that would include much better attention to detail, from the production companies, about which library they used.

          1. Yes, the concern would be that ASCAP/BMI/SESAC would not know who to pay so they would hold back the money until the proper party is identified and, knowing how slowly the wheels of the PROs turn, that could take a long time.

            All the PROs already have a difficult time resolving issues with paying out royalties due for all kinds of situations. It’s generally slow, confusing for all parties and often inaccurate. Imagine how much more complicated this will make it.

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