Sirr Love explains how to get paid from publishing and how it works. (math and all).
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By: Ari Herstand May 4, 2014
Last weekend at the ASCAP Music Expo at the Loews Hollywood Hotel I attended the Music Supervisor panel containing 5 music supervisors who actively place music in film and television.
Over the course of my career, I’ve had about 30 TV placements (20 in the last year from my new record). I’ve gotten songs placed on high profile shows that are known for their music, like One Tree Hill and shows you’ve never heard of, where music is very much “background,” like Friendzone. And everything in between.
And I’ve also been 1 week away from having a song on So You Think You Can Dance. Contracts were signed. The only problem was, the contestant who was going to dance to my song got bumped. Balls.
There is no one way to get music placed on TV (or in film). In addition to how I’ve gone about it, I’ve spoken with many of my musician friends who make livings on song placements about this.
According to the Guild of Music Supervisors, the definition/role of a music supervisor is defined as:
“A qualified professional who oversees all music related aspects of film, television, advertising, video games and any other existing or emerging visual media platforms as required.”
Music supervisors are the actual people who take the cues from the producers and director when the “picture is locked” and underscore the picture with songs. The composer underscores the picture with original, scored compositions written specifically for that scene.
Sometimes (most of the time) music supervisors use the instrumental version and most of the time it’s just a small snippet of the song (however, now I have to brag a bit, One Tree Hill used all 3:43 of my song – words and music. But that’s very rare).
On the ASCAP panel sat Rebecca Rienks, who currently places music for E! (you know those promo montage spots that always seem to have Ryan Seacrest looking… Seacresty); Holly Hung, who primarily places music in film trailers; Jeff Gray just finished a feature film; Lindsay Wolfington (who placed me in One Tree Hill), mostly works on TV shows; and the moderator, Jason Kramer, is a music supervisor at Elias Arts, a music production company that specializes in original music composition and sound design for TV, films and commercials. Kramer is also a host on Los Angeles’ KCRW.
They rapped for just over an hour about what types of music they look for, day to day challenges (mainly dealing with producers who say stuff like “can you make this more purple?”) and showed us some of the spots they’ve placed music in.
“As long as it fits and tonally hits everything that it needs to hit, it doesn’t matter if it’s an indie band, somebody not signed, somebody just dropped, if it works it works.” – Holly Hung, Music Supervisor
Hung told a story about working on a trailer for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. She said they had a Coldplay song as temp music and she spent 3 weeks looking for a replacement for it. She scoured iTunes and found a band who had just gotten dropped by their label and the singer was currently working at Starbucks. She used the song and the band got $80,000 for the placement.
Getting Music To The Music Supervisors
As you can imagine, music supervisors get inundated with emails from people wanting their music placed. Be it musicians, licensing companies, publishing companies, managers or just fans of the supe (that’s short for music supervisor – and yes they have fans), supes can get overwhelmed and are very picky about HOW they will take submissions.
DO NOT ATTACH MP3s
There’s no correct way to get music placed, but there are a few incorrect ways. All supes on the panel said do not attach mp3s to an email. It clutters up their inbox and will go directly to the trash (and your email will probably get blocked).
How To Get Your Email Opened
Hung said to put who you sound like in the subject line. Like “Sounds like Coldplay.” Keep the body short and to the point and only send the songs that make sense for the project that supe is working on. So, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Do not send your tear-jerker ballad to Rienks who needs upbeat, fun, exciting music for her E! spots.
How To Get Your Song Listened To
In the email, include links to where the song can be quickly listened to (without having to be downloaded) where there is ALSO an option to download it if they want to use it. Also, directly below the song, include a link to the instrumental.
Wolfington mentioned that she loves Box.com. Box.com (unlike Dropbox) will open a window with a player and it has a download link in the upper right hand corner. Very convenient.
Do not include links to ALL of your music. Send the best 1-3 songs that will work for that supe’s current project.
If the supe wants more of your music, she’ll ask.
In the email, it may help to list a couple distinctive adjectives below each song or key lyrics. Like:
epic, explosion at end,
key lyrics: “I will find the artist inside me”
full wav: link to box.com
instrumental wav: link to box.com
And yes, always upload .wavs. Not mp3s. If the supe wants to experiment with your song in the spot, she isn’t going to want to have to REEDIT in the wav once she realizes it’s a low-quality mp3.
If you don’t have a publishing company, there are companies out there who solely pitch music to music supervisors. Unlike publishing companies, they do not own any part of your song. Similarly, though, they will not go hunt down your mechanical royalties around the world for you (like publishing companies will).
Some will take a back-end percentage of your performance royalties (like from ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN), and others won’t. Some will work with you non-exclusively and others (the more established ones) will require you to work exclusively with them.
Typically licensing companies will take about 30-50% of the total sync fee and 30-50% of the back-end performance royalties.
All network TV shows have a budget for music. Most higher profile cable TV shows have a budget for music. Most reality shows have a very tiny budget for music and will not pay you for the placement unless they have to.
Network TV shows will typically pay $3,000+ (depending on the spot and your level of clout). Cable TV shows will typically pay $750+ and reality shows on cable mostly pay indie artists nothing. Movies, trailers and commercials typically pay the most: $20,000+.
But these are very loose numbers. I’ve heard of major label artists getting $30,000 for a cable show and indie bands making $80,000 for a trailer.
Before you breakout the pitchforks for the reality TV show producers, you won’t NOT get paid EVER for these spots, you just won’t get paid up front. Meaning, many of these shows will ask you for the rights to place your music for free, knowing that you’ll make back-end songwriter/publisher performance royalties from your PRO (Performing Rights Organization – ASCAP, BMI, etc). If you get a bunch of these kinds of placements, they can really add up. It just takes about 9-18 months to see that check, though. These shows also (to compensate for their lack of payment) do a decent job of maximizing the band’s exposure. Most shows have an entire music section on their websites that list all music from each episode with links to iTunes and Spotify and to the bands’ websites. The Real World also puts the name of the song and the artist on the screen while the song is playing.
So, it’s not completely free. It can be pretty decent exposure.
And hey, if you don’t want to let them use your song for free, there is no one forcing you to.
Also worth noting, you don’t make any performance royalties when the movies are shown in theaters. There’s no legitimate reason why. It’s one of those messed up parts of the music business.
Pay To Submit Companies
There are companies like MusicXray.com, Sonicbids.com and Taxi.com who charge you to submit to music supervisors (oh you also have pay to become a member) for consideration. Taxi.com openly admits that only 6% of their artists get some kind of deal (who knows how many paid submissions they already submitted). But one of the music supervisors on the panel (I’ll withhold who) when asked about these companies, said, “it’s bad business.”
I’ve never actually heard of anyone getting a placement through these services. If you have PLEASE post it in the comments.
You have to see it from the supe’s perspective. They want music from people they trust, like licensing companies, publishing companies and musicians who they have a relationship with. Not some service that pushes out music where the only barrier for entry is a fee.
How To Get In The Door
Now that you know HOW to submit, how do you know WHO to submit to? Well, simple, do your research. The first handful of placements I got were from watching TV shows, noting the kind of music they used, looking at who the music supervisor was (they’re always listed in the ending credits – or on IMDB), Googling a bit to find their email, and cold emailing. Actually, I tweeted Lindsay Wolfington my song for One Tree Hill.
They’re all mostly on Twitter too.
Above all DO NOT SPAM them. This is a quick way to get blacklisted and blocked. Be polite and respectful. Make sure your emails are short and to the point.
If you don’t get a response don’t think they’re not interested. Wolfington mentioned that she puts all of these emails in a folder and when she’s looking for music, she sifts through the folder. So make sure your links don’t expire.
If you want to find a licensing company, there are a ton out there. Google around for a bit. Ask your friends who have gotten placements who they use. Check the credits of films to see who the song is “Courtesy of” – if it’s not a label, it’s most likely the licensing or publishing company.
I get asked all the time who are some good licensing companies out there, and the fact is, I don’t know all of them. I don’t know most of them. I’ve worked with a handful of them and have a few now who pitch me (non-exclusively), but it’s pointless for me to share this information because then the few licensing companies I know would get flooded by your emails. Do your research and find the company that’s the best fit for you.
Getting songs placed on TV shows and in movies is a highly sought after part of the music industry. Some musicians make their entire income off of it. Many companies do exclusively this. Like any avenue in the music industry, if you want to do well, you must put in the time necessary to master it. You can’t blast out 50 emails to 50 music supervisors and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. It takes years of building up relationships, networking and trial and error. And again, DO NOT send out music that is not right for the show (or underdeveloped). That gives a bad name to all self-pitching artists. Every time a supe gets an email from an artist with shitty music or music that is completely different from what she places, she is less likely to open another email in the future. Don’t hurt your fellow independent musicians. Be respectful and be professional.
Ari Herstand is the author of How To Make It in the New Music Business, a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake
source: Digital Music News
The music business is a tough place for most artists to make money. This struggle was thrown into sharp relief last week when the UK industry revealed that artists earned more from vinyl sales in 2016 than they did from YouTube payments for viewings of music videos.
The BPI, the record labels’ association that promotes British music, says this is the latest example of YouTube exploiting the “value gap” between what it makes from online advertising shown around music videos and what finds its way to the artists’ pockets.
As if to add insult to injury, news of the paltry level of payouts came a day after figures showed that Google, and subsidiary YouTube, took home the lion’s share of the £10bn spent on internet advertising in the UK last year. BPI figures show UK vinyl sales growing for the ninth consecutive year in 2016, to a 25-year high of 3.2m units – driven by Blackstar, the final album by the late David Bowie – and making £41.7m for record labels and artists. By contrast, music video streaming, which is dominated by YouTube, funnelled just £25.5m to the industry.
“YouTube’s holding company [Google] can’t really have a motto ‘Do The Right Thing’ then pay one-seventh of the rates other streaming services pay,” said Allen Kovac, who has managed bands including the Bee Gees, Mötley Crüe and Blondie. “Moreover, Google drives audiences to YouTube, which devalues artists’ music. That’s a win-win for them, but a colossal loser for artists.”
In December, YouTube said it had paid more than $1bn globally last year to the music industry from advertising that runs around videos. It claims it is generating money from “light” users who would never subscribe to a paid-for music service, so this is money labels and artists would not otherwise see. It also says it is capturing money from identifying and putting ads around fan uploads, which now account for half of the industry’s YouTube revenue, and is a bonus.
“YouTube is working with the music industry to bring more money to artists, labels and publishers,” said a spokeswoman. “YouTube is contributing a meaningful and growing revenue stream for the industry.”
However the IFPI, the global recording industry body, claims that with 800 million music users, YouTube is paying little more than $1 per user for the entire year: “This pales in comparison with the revenue generated by other services, from Apple to Deezer to Spotify.”
Spotify is a fraction of YouTube’s size – it has some 100 million users, half of whom pay for a premium service – but paid record labels about $2bn globally in 2015. Income from the UK operations of streaming services, mainly Spotify, rose more than 60% year on year in 2016 to £238.6m, according to the BPI.
Revenues from streaming are forecast to overtake physical sales this year to become UK labels’ biggest revenue generator. Physical album sales fell 2.6% to £284.7m in 2016. The streaming boom pushed UK record companies’ total trade income – which includes music sales, performance rights and music licensed for use in films, TV, ads and games – up 5.6% last year to £926m. But the BPI says that figure, a five-year high, would be well over £1bn if the industry got the revenue it believes it deserves from video streaming.
“These figures suggest a corner is being turned as more people choose premium subscription services, but are hugely frustrating given that they could be more positive still were video-streaming platforms to pay fairly for the music they benefit so much from,” said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI.
The battle is set to come to a head in Europe later this year. The industry believes YouTube unfairly takes advantage of “safe harbour” laws, which protect it from liability for the massive amount of copyrighted material illegally uploaded by its users, so long as it is removed on request.
The labels believe that YouTube’s ability to make money from videos without a licence puts it in a position of power. Services such as Spotify need a licence before they can make music available.
Last year, the European commission proposed to make YouTube and other such services subject to the same copyright rules as other streaming services. The European parliament will vote on the reform this summer, although YouTube is lobbying heavily against it.
“The biggest problem facing music creators is that the most significant source of online music, video streaming services, pay them insignificant royalties,” said Gadi Oron, chief executive of Cisac, the international confederation of societies of authors and composers. “This is a huge global flaw in the music landscape: it is unfair, and it is alarming. That is why the EU reforms currently under discussion are so important.”
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One of the biggest problems the music industry faces today is knowing which labels and publishers, performers, songwriters and producers own the rights to songs and recordings, and what their split of the royalties might be. Many believe that record keeping with Blockchain technology can help. Advocates of Blockchain foresee a music industry where every time a song is sold or streamed, payments on royalty splits would be clearer and quicker.
A Blockchain is ultimately a database that maintains a continuously growing list of records secure from revision or tampering, and one that enables trading with a cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. Participants would engage in a new and efficient protocol that promises more transparency in transactions and a tamper proof medium of exchange. Less middlemen would be involved all around, which is reassuring for an industry riddled with issues of trust over intermediation.
In a perfect world, the Blockchain would also become the single stop to publish all information about the making of a song. The suggestion too is that Blockchain would devolve control to the original parties in the exchange. For instance, notaries could be replaced, as every transaction would be time stamped automatically and given a unique ID. A cryptocurrency would also facilitate international settlements between collections societies by eliminating the exchange rate risk.
Building the technology is a logical first step, but shopping for its acceptance is not far behind. The data transparency issue is thorny. Blockchain needs multiple participants sharing data in a single space avoiding third-party checks on the accuracy of the terms of trade therein. The Global Repertoire Database, supported by the EU countries, failed to materialize two years go because it could not overcome the skepticism of publishers, songwriters, and many national collection societies, including USA’s ASCAP and BMI. If successful, Blockchain would supersede the need for a GRD type solution, but the historical record so far is not encouraging.
Even if it were possible to reach a trusted consensus in the Blockchain without the need of a third-party organization or authority, the technology appears to have technical limitations as well. There is, in effect, a real trade-off between the performance of the system and the amount of data it can process in real time.
Currently, if Blockchain were powered with Bitcoin, Bitcoin transactions could not keep pace even with credit card clearances. A 2015 Lloyd’s report makes the point that in its current configuration Bitcoin is far from Visa’s peak volume of 47,000 clearances a second (the report puts Bitcoin at seven transactions per second). In fact, the computing power needed for the Blockchain with Bitcoin would delay transaction processing. In part this is because every participant must replicate all contents of the chain as it adds on the next link.
With music, a commodity bundled with many rights and so many potential licensing outcomes, the size of the metadata needed for a transaction would be large. In fact, a Bitcoin powered database would be useless if there was a time lag in a transaction display because it could lead to double spending. This would clearly be a disincentive for a trade that deals in a low value product of mass consumption.
A Blockchain could move forward perhaps with another cryptocurrency, a development that would be welcome. In the meantime, Blockchain could serve as a repository of the chronology of all metadata, i.e. a decentralized data store, with the ability to operate at low cost, something like the GRD but with a special new codec.
Nevertheless, for an industry increasingly preoccupied with the right input format of its metadata, the question arises as to when and where will the input of the data happen. A DIY band that is self-published might be disciplined enough to pay attention as they record what contribution is apportioned to this or that member of the group. But most musicians separate the act of creation from the record keeping of the business data, so it is unlikely that the messiness of the original data is going to magically disappear with Blockchain, (even with unique personal identifiers and an established cryptography).
There are several music business startups that have set out to build a Blockchain and capitalize on it. One of them is PeerTracks. It plans to use the technology to craft a type of artist equity trading system within a streaming and music retail platform that will generate fan engagement and peer-to-peer talent discovery too. It would pay streaming revenue directly to the artists on a per-user-share basis using so-called ‘artist tokens’. Every artist would have their own name and likeness circulating in tokens and each artist would decide on the number of tokens in circulation, thus creating a cryptocurrency of artist tokens to replace ordinary money. Valuations would be commensurate with the popularity of the artist in a closed echosystem. The question as to how this echosystem would interface with the rest of the monetary transactions in the economy is still unclear.
Another startup, Ujo, is building a system designed to address two major problems in global royalty distribution and licensing. Ujo proposed a new, shared infrastructure for the creative industries that aims to return more value to content creators and their customers. Built in collaboration with artist Imogen Heap, Ujo’s model is different as it focuses on creating an open-source rights database and payment infrastructure. Like Peertracks, Ujo wants to revolutionize how money is distributed to artists and rights holders, but does not seek to create an alternative medium of exchange such as the ‘artists tokens’ of PeerTracks. Presumably, it awaits establishment of new and more efficient cryptocurrency than Bitcoin.
Another talked about projects is the Dot Blockchain Music Project, or Dot BC project, founded by PledgeMusic founder Benji Rogers. According to Rogers, this project aims to “create a new music codec (.bc) containing a minimum viable data set that would create a globally distributed database of music rights to an open source architecture and user interface.” Once a .bc file is delivered to a digital service or player, it would be decoded in compliance to the .bc rules, authorizing or rejecting the playback of the content. A payment would then be made to the owner or rights holder for the usage of that music. The key is the act of creating the .bc files that would build and then add to a global decentralized database of rights.
Delays and non-payment of artist and songwriter royalties are a common refrain of artists and songwriters. Whether it is by design or not, is immaterial. The Dot BC project needs the cooperation of major corporations and collecting societies, for without that innovators would arguably stop in their tracks. The demand for music data is evident, but the incentive to supply it is less clear. A number of incumbents benefit from the status quo, but can we look to certain innovative music services as facilitators of change?
Companies like Kobalt, Stem, and Songtrust offer great tools to help musicians, managers, labels and publishers better manage their dataflow. They could take advantage of a shared metadata network by offering users the best in class tools to work with. Also, platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud have motivation to find a reliable and long-term solution to the transparency problem in order to avoid future lawsuits. Spotify seems to be leading the charge, having recently committed to “fix the global problem of bad publishing data once and for all”. They also have the scale and technical resources to ensure the availability and operation of the network.
Because the Blockchain does not possess cognitive empathy and does not understand nuance, it is unlikely that conflict resolution will obviate person-to-person dialogue. There will be need for trusted arbiters. Today this function is performed by PROs and other services that administer copyrights. It is likely that such organizations will continue doing data auditing and conflict resolution for their clients, rather than be superseded by new technologies.
Widespread adoption of Blockchain platforms within the music industry could prompt a new wave of change, yet remain compatible with contemporary models of digital music consumption and distribution. From the consumers’ perspective, very little would change except that a Blockchain would ensure that copyright theft and piracy would become almost impossible. However, the main advantage occurs in the way that artists are able to manage their intellectual property, ensuring that the way their content is used and paid for is controlled.
For music labels and licensing bodies, there is an opportunity to be on the leading edge of change by working with artists and distributors to establish new standards and ways of working that reach right across the industry. A Blockchain platform employing identity management and smart contracts could lock in rules for how revenue flows from consumer to artist every time a piece of content is played or streamed, thus reducing the costs associated with collecting and managing statistics, maintaining copyright databases and distributing royalty payments. It could also enable new business over micropayments being considered elsewhere in the media industry.
Also, the adoption of unique ID resolution could enable two or more parties to discover and share a common identifier for a song. The identifier can be random so long as it can also be discovered by alternate IDs such as ISRC or other internal fields or keywords. This stores songs in the Blockchain forever via a unique ID. So if even one note of a song were to be changed, a new ID would be created so remixes, dub plates, and flips would be instantly recognizable. Money won’t land in one big pot as a flat-charge to be paid out pro-rata, but distributed instantly and proportionately to each rights holder.
One of the key features inherent in Blockchain is the ability to put data into a public ledger that has a level of privacy. However, there are limits to the information that artists and businesses want to enter into any Blockchain. Some things best remain private and many transactions should never be made public. In some cases, there could be private sales of valuable assets where certain parties would not want that information entered into any public ledger.
Another concern that is often voiced is the uploading of incorrect and/or incomplete data especially as it pertains to publishing rights. According to some experts Shazam or Gracenote technology might help detect errors at the input stage, but it is difficult to imagine automatic correctives only.
Finally, Blockchain is not an authority unless given that recognition by humans. Yet Blockchain belongs to no one, and is only a public ledger or record of information pertaining to a transaction or asset. It can be polluted. It cannot be held accountable because it has no one to be accountable to, and no one is truly responsible for it. Since it is designed to exist in a decentralized format, the perceived value is that anyone can enter information into a Blockchain and by making it public, almost anyone can use it to validate a transaction.
Still, Blockchain technology is slowly making its mark in general business. Examples include a payment system and digital currency, facilitating crowdsales, or implementing prediction markets and governance tools. It offers many captivating possibilities of eliminating the middleman in order to increase efficiency and transparency.
Worldwide, the financial services market is the largest sector of industry by market capitalization. If Blockchain technology could replace just a fraction of that by enabling these peer-to-peer transactions in other sectors then it clearly has the potential to create huge efficiencies. Many banks across the world are conducting research on how this technology could benefit them. These types of transactions are also very relevant to companies like Airbnb or Uber. One of the more popular ideas is the idea that the Blockchain could offer a decentralized Uber service, a way to have riders order and pay a driver over the Blockchain, all without using a middleman like Uber that takes a cut to connect rider and driver.
The music trade, like other industries, will likely make more use of the technology in time. An early adopter is Imogen Heap, who released her song Tiny Human on Ujo Music in October last year. Imogen Heap attached a smart contract to the song, a programmable agreement that a computer can read to facilitate, verify, and enforce terms, simplifying a trade. Heap also used Blockchain architecture to manage intellectual property rights and arrange payment splits. Although still in its foundational stage, her so-called Mycelia project is spearheading new ways of doing business. The Dot BC project, which released its Blockchain alpha test this August, may not be far behind.
By Alexander Stewart
source: Music Business Journal
Here are some points I felt would be helpful to those starting their music production career and to those who are considering to become a music producer. If you have any other points to add feel free to leave a comment.
1. Consult/Hire an Entertainment Lawyer to prepare the type of contracts you will need to legally protect yourself and your intellectual properties. Form an official business for your production company.
2. Put consistent time into maximizing your skills, learning new skills and continue to improve daily; music is a feeling, make what you feel, stay in tune with the art while increasing your fundamentals of your craft. I encourage you to hire quality & reputable individuals or businesses to fill voids that you may not be skilled to do like graphic design, mixing or marketing; someone you trust with a proven track record of a specific skill that you need to elevate your career.
3. Create a marketing strategy and plan for on & offline branding and promotions of your production. Have a professional mix on your production that you are showcasing to help maximize your opportunities for placements.
4. Build Site to showcase and sell your beats, this also offers the ability to showcase songs featuring your production.
5. Every and I mean every artist in your immediate area should know you exist and have a place online to hear your work. Here’s an idea, create a platform for yourself in your market by doing a project with local artists featuring your production and promote the project in the market, on/offline. Speak to your lawyer on the legalities to make it an official release.
6ixx. Travel to other markets with your production, maximize your personal network and create new connections at various entertainment industry events and events in general where potential clients will be networking.
These are just some tips that crossed my mind when thinking of those are just getting started or those considering to become a producer. Finally, be authentic in all you do, in life and creating artistically. If these tips were helpful please let me know. Positive energy to all!!!