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There is a lot of controversy about the practice of retitling music by music libraries that offer non-exclusive deals. Retitling allows the composer to place their music with many companies thus widening the opportunities for getting their music heard and thus sold. Some think this “de-values” ones music while others think it’s unethical or possibly illegal.

151 thoughts on “Retitling”

  1. Again, I agree Art. the libraries do get hammered too and some of these libraries really are “in-the-know” about music publishing and licensing. they shouldn’t work for free, so when they are getting us deals that don’t pay anything upfront, they should get their equal shares on the backend. the only way to do that is to retitle so that we can still work with others that are trying to do the same thing. it’s actually a very good thing for us and i don’t know why people keep saying that it is deceptive. it’s only deceptive if the writer has no idea that you are renaming the titles.

  2. The way I see it, re-titling is SIMPLY a way for licensing companies to claim a share of the back-end royalties, but without claiming to be a true administrator or co-publisher for a composer…It’s almost like an administration or co-publishing deal loophole, in favor of the licensing company.

    Basically you’re duplicating a song with your PRO, and giving up a portion of your publishing for that duplicated song, without truly being compensated for it. I mean really…WHY SHOULD A LICENSING COMPANY RECEIVE ANY BACK-END ROYALTIES?!?!?! THEY’RE ALREADY GETTING HALF OF THE LICENSE FEE FOR THEIR EFFORTS. THIS IS A CO-PUBLISHING DEAL, but without any of the potential perks (primarily, negotiation of an ADVANCE, to compensate for a percentage of the publishing!!!).

    I don’t see a great benefit for composers to create a mirror-image of their own music, just so that a licensing company can get paid.

    A LOT of licensing companies out there are doing this. And I understand the “50% of something is better than 100% of nothing” argument, so please don’t bring this up. Time and time again, it seems like the musician/artist/composer, once again, is the one who truly suffers from deceptive industry practices…And I’m adding re-titling to that loooooong list!

    Any comments are encouraged! This is an important topic, so I’m all ears!!!

    • I have worked directly with a TV production company that produces a lot of shows for various cable channels. They were constantly being bombarded by music libraries willing to give them hard drives of music for little or nothing upfront, just the back end monies. I also know of some production houses that will only work with a music library for NO upfront money and ONLY if they split the back end with the library. So I think some of the libraries are getting hammered also. I have only placed a few things with an upfront sync fee. If I had much better credits I could demand more but until that time I’m comfortable with this business model.

      Just my 2 pennies worth.

  3. A lot of people have very strong opinions about re-titling and I certainly respect their opinions.

    I guess I don’t understand what the alternative is in this marketplace. Do I really want to sign with one music library and hope that they are going to do a good job of placing my music? Do I want to wait a year or so with that one company and then move on to another if they are not cutting it? Not so much. After all as much as I love the music I create it is just a product and it’s also all about shelf space. I want to be in as many stores as possible with my product, albeit quality stores.

    I also don’t see how re-titling is deceptive. Is it deceptive that only a few manufacturers in various industries make a variety of different branded TVs, appliances, mattresses, food, drink? It’s done all the time and has been going on for a long time. As for the legality of it and all the “what ifs” that people bring up? Obviously there are many people buying into this business model and new ideas have generally been ahead of the curve of the accepted norm. In 1903, the president of the Michigan Savings Bank advised Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in Ford Motor Company, saying, “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad.”

    Until someone can show me a better way, re-titling makes the most sense for me.


  4. The business of putting the same piece of work into many different outlets under different names is simply deceptive………. one cannot complain about the bad ethics of Publishers PRO’s etc if one stoops to the same low morals.


  5. I suppose many people here have heard about the photographer Annie Leibovitz’s recent financial problems. One thing struck me: she was able to leverage her copyrights into a very tidy advance. Go try that with copyrights that are split left right and centre.

  6. I’ve had several offers to place my music in various film and TV projects if I agreed to the retitling process. So far, I’ve resisted this approach and I’m waiting for someone to come up with another model for third party compensation for placement that doesn’t affect my original copyright.

    This is music that was NOT written for library use initially.

  7. it actually is compatible with the copyright laws, or none of the companies that do it, would take such measures to make it part of their business model, but like you say, the controversy is still there. you can’t copyright titles and as long as the original music is copyrighted with the library of congress, the copyright owner should be okay. unless you’re looking to be the next Beatle, it shouldn’t matter if your music is being retitled. whoever gets it into the hands that subsequently gets it heard, should get their rightful share, especially for composers that are pumping out music and wanting to make a living out of doing just that. look how many libraries there are listed here. you think composers would make more money by not retitling and going with just one exclusive publisher who isn’t going to push your music as much as the libraries will anyway? these days, you gain recognition by how many credits you have or how many digital downloads you have. you think none of the bigger composers haven’t gone behind their exclusive publisher’s back to rename titles so that they would have more opportunity? even some of them are retitling!!

  8. Getting a composer’s music “out there” is a great thing, but would be better to keep original title, and have other sellers set up as co-publishers or sub-publishers who have compatible marketing niches with the primary copyright owners, i.e. the “master” publishers.

    This is a win-win like distribution in the physical world, while keeping the original song’s name to help promote and increase it’s fullest potential value (recognition and reputation) over time. The sales percentages (commissions) and revenue sharing amounts could be the same, but would need to be agreed on (in writing) before such new deals are done.

    So I believe there are better business models than the old (worn out) re-titling game. Legally it’s not even compatible with the copyright laws, so there’s got to be a better way!



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