I wrote this post on another blog in May of 2009 and thought it would fit well here.
I recently signed up for Tunesat’s trial period. For those of you who don’t know, Tunesat is a service that monitors (according to them) all shows, on 100 Networks, for detections of your music.
You start by sending them your music (after signing a contract), currently via a DVD (no FTP yet), and they “fingerprint” it to compare to their monitored networks. For the trial period they will run a scan on Q2 2008 and also 45 days going forward from the day they get you into their system. The cost for the trial period is 50 cents per piece of music and 20% of any monies you recover. In my case I sent them about 150 cues for a fingerprint cost of $76. You are provided with an account page at Tunesat with a list of the detections that include the name of the channel, show name, episode name, date/time, cue title (title you submitted to Tunesat), duration and finally a “Listen” link to hear the detection (with dialog). They started monitoring my cues on 05-07-2009 and to date (currently 05-29-09) they have “detected” about 500 uses of those cues (Q2 2008 scan will be in about a month). The point is to check for copyright infringement, shows that that are using your music and not reporting it and/or cross referencing against your cue sheets.
Many of the shows detected were on Scripps Networks which has not been paying any performance royalties.
Though I have made my living for many decades making music in various capacities, I had very little knowledge of music libraries. In 2004 my wife and I made a deal to write and produce about 100 cues for a TV production company. Through a series of miscommunications and lack of knowledge, on everyone’s part, we ended up with a lousy contract and learned that most of the shows were for Scripps Networks. One thing we did insist on is the ability to re-use the music which they agreed to, as long as we re-titled.
I know all about the controversy regarding re-titling but for us it was the only game in town. I submitted our completed cues to many, many libraries and the only ones interested were those who offered the now typical “re-titling” option (BTW these libraries were found submitting through the Film Music Network). I was not going to let the music sit on the shelf so I went for it. How the re-titling controversy will play out is anyone’s guess.
In 2006 I placed our music with two different libraries. Over the course of the last three years one library has done an excellent job of placing the music but the other has never placed one piece. I was curious. Was the one successful library a fluke and/or the other library inept or dishonest? I will know more about this aspect when the Q2 2008 scan is run but I have learned that the library that has done well for us has placed some of our cues with Scripps. This I did not know and I made sure to let them know. To say that they were surprised I knew this is an understatement! But the nature of the business is that they (like many other libraries) supply a hard drive of music to production companies and from that point it’s hard to know where the music ends up. I do think that now, with a service like Tunesat, I can at least let them know I know.
Now to a hopeful sign. The whole Scripps issue with BMI has been bugging me since I found out about it in 2004. I had called BMI a number of times in L.A., N.Y. and Nashville and few people knew what I was talking about. When they did they had no clear answers except that BMI was negotiating with Scripps. After observing all of the Scripps shows on Tunesat and getting more incensed I started calling BMI again. After a series of calls I finally got through to a couple of people who got right on the case to get me some answers. Today I got a call from BMI saying they were a few months away from finalizing a deal with Scripps and that Scripps was deciding what shows would be on a blanket license or per program. BMI also said payment would be retroactive.
I’m always the “infernal” optimist so I would like to think this will happen. Needless to say I will keep on my contact at BMI and hope for the best. The person at BMI did state the Scripps was not their longest running negotiation but (as she said) there are a lot of lawyers involved!
As I find out more about Tunesat, Scripps Networks and BMI I will update.