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Topic: OT: Music libraries

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  1. #1

    OT: Music libraries

    I know a lot of people on this forum compose for music libraries. Which ones are people having the most success with as far as actually generating some income? Any pitfalls to be wary of? Obviously the quality of music plays a big factor but for now I’m interested in the business aspects and logistics of the process. Any info would be a big help.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Music is the timeless experience of constant change.

  2. #2

    Re: OT: Music libraries

    Chris,

    A lot has been written already on this topic and I would highly recommend doing a search for the terms "music library".

    Without starting yet another topic, I would like to say that you should try to avoid companies that will not pay you money up front and that do not have a very established client base. I would also add to the fact that the market is seriously saturated with Music Libraries. Any newcomers this late to the game are probably not going to succeed unless they have some major $$$ backing them up for advertising and sales. So if you get into a conversation with some new guys who want to make the best music library out there, but can't afford to pay you up front, your best bet is to walk on and save your music for better uses!
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  3. #3

    Post Re: OT: Music libraries

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    Chris,

    A lot has been written already on this topic and I would highly recommend doing a search for the terms "music library".

    Without starting yet another topic, I would like to say that you should try to avoid companies that will not pay you money up front and that do not have a very established client base. I would also add to the fact that the market is seriously saturated with Music Libraries. Any newcomers this late to the game are probably not going to succeed unless they have some major $$$ backing them up for advertising and sales. So if you get into a conversation with some new guys who want to make the best music library out there, but can't afford to pay you up front, your best bet is to walk on and save your music for better uses!
    I'm afraid I have to disagree with what's being suggested here. Although Midphase is quite correct stating that there are many music libraries out there, you'll will come to discover that none of the major players, that is the ones that have the highest license fees payed them for their music, will pay their signed composers up front. You will find the odd music library here and there that offers money up front, and to be quite honest, those are the ones to be the most wary of since due to the up-front monies, the composer then usually gets paid only residual royalties and NOT his or her share of the license fee itself. Even if a music library charges minimal fees for needle-drops, you'll find that 50% of a very small license fee is greater than any residual royalty you would receive on the back end, as is the case for example in royalties received from cable vs. network television.

    This information is based on my own involvement over the years with several different libraries and I can tell you that the license fees paid me on the back end for motion picture campaign licenses have far exceeded any up-front monies paid from smaller libraries who charge their clients less and have you paid on a royalty basis only.

    If you have no experience in the music library arena, my suggestion would be to form a relationship with a music library interested in your work, not necessarily on the basis of what kind of money you are receiving, but rather to be able to establish a credit list making you a more viable choice for the larger libraries that pay well. As is the case with most things in the music business, credits can mean more credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of a client and will afford you more financial possibilities with larger companies in the future.

    Best,

    Kaveh

    www.kavehcohen.com

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Music libraries

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    A lot has been written already on this topic and I would highly recommend doing a search for the terms "music library".
    I had no doubt this topic has been discussed before but any search with the word "library" returns anything that mentions "sample library" --- which seems to be pretty common on this DB.

    I find it interesting how different the two responses I received were. What specific experiences have led each of you to the conclusions you've drawn? This is a new area for me and I am hoping to minimize the growing pains. Perhaps others have had similar experiences? There is always excellent, well thought out advice from varying perspectives in these forums and I look forward to your replies.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  5. #5

    Post Re: OT: Music libraries

    Quote Originally Posted by 1EchoRec
    I had no doubt this topic has been discussed before but any search with the word "library" returns anything that mentions "sample library" --- which seems to be pretty common on this DB.

    I find it interesting how different the two responses I received were. What specific experiences have led each of you to the conclusions you've drawn? This is a new area for me and I am hoping to minimize the growing pains. Perhaps others have had similar experiences? There is always excellent, well thought out advice from varying perspectives in these forums and I look forward to your replies.

    Thanks,
    Chris
    Hi Chris,

    As I mentioned in my post, I have had experience in both types of situations and have as a result formed the opinion that the smaller companies paying small fees up front in order to buy you out, similar to a work-for-hire situation, are the companies to avoid simply because you will be paid only a residual royalty which will amount to next to nothing in comparison to a 50% split of the license fee collected by the library house.

    Sync fees can range from $150 all the way to $10,000 or even $20,000 depending on the library house. In any case, 50% of even a $150 needle drop is more than the residual royalty for the same licensed piece of music. It's very simple. If you write music for a business, then you would quite obviously want to get paid the most for your work. At the end of the day, the libraries that pay up front do so in order to not have to pay you a share of the license fee they collect, instead allowing you to retain 100% of the writer's share which again, means you only get paid through royalties. Larger libraries do not operate this way -- they do not pay up front and will instead typically pay 50% of the license fees they collect when your pieces are used. As I mentioned before, placing music on a higher profile library is no walk in the park, and as with anything requires you to attain a foot in the door and work your way up through the acquisition of credits and forming relationships with the various companies you're interested in working with over time.

    Bear in mind, there are exceptions to this general outline of how libraries operate, however for the most part, particularly with the larger libraries, you'll find what I've described to be the case. In the end, it will be up to you to make a decision in whatever situation you come across as to whether or not it will benefit you and help you further yourself in this avenue. If you have any interest, you can see a list of my advertising credits on my website, www.kavehcohen.com.

    Best,

    Kaveh

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Music libraries

    In my experience, I have been able to negotiate both money up front and a 50% split for licensing fees. Plus you can collect ASCAP or BMI royalties if the music gets on the air.

    There are only a handful of companies that I would agree to do music for no money up front due to their incredibly widespread client base which gives a bit of assurance that your music will get used if it's good.

    Think about it this way....Library Music for the most part generates a few hundred $ per cue. Unfortunately, a lot of people in minor markets or non-broadcast uses generally don't even report it (trust me, I know several post houses that do it regularly). So what that results is a few hundred $ for you IF your cue gets picked, reported, and in turn the company that you work for is trustworthy. There is just too much risk not to get some money up front.

    I also do think that there are way too many players out there, several companies that I have done work for have folded or can hardly make ends meet because they simply can not compete against each other.

    The top dogs in the industry have killer sales teams and a well established relationship with the big clients like networks and ad agencies. The newcomers are in for a tough fight. The big guys have access to music recorded with real orchestras!!! How can you possibly come close to compete without any money up front?
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Music libraries

    Quote Originally Posted by Ernstinen
    Music Libraries sign your "master recordings" for use in film and TV. They license your copyrighted works, and take publishing monies through whatever contract you work out with them.

    A friend just told me (from the TAXI convention) that 70% of music on TV comes from music libraries.

    More later ---

    Ern
    I have had a similar experince myself. On one series, I worked with a music consultant for a big network. He took me into a room where he had copies of almost every library available, and he had them all given to him for free. He and his fellow consultants, used the library for temp tracks, and very often for final tracks. It didn't take me long to start writing cues for libraries after that.

  8. #8

    Re: OT: Music libraries

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    Unfortunately, a lot of people in minor markets or non-broadcast uses generally don't even report it (trust me, I know several post houses that do it regularly). So what that results is a few hundred $ for you IF your cue gets picked, reported, and in turn the company that you work for is trustworthy. There is just too much risk not to get some money up front.
    A very good point. I have heard my cues on TV when I knew they hadn't been cleared. Another time I was in a studio and the engineer calmly walked over to a library I had a lot of stuff on, and told me he used it all the time without clearance. It was a small market though and mostly corporate work, so it didn't reflect a great loss, but if the problem was compounded across all small markets it could represent considerable money lost.

  9. #9
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    Re: OT: Music libraries

    Quote Originally Posted by fictionmusic
    A very good point. I have heard my cues on TV when I knew they hadn't been cleared.
    Yep, same here, although more on radio. It still happens from stuff that's now almost a decade old, music I was too young and naive to think about in the long term. Paying off a large student loan led to some rash decisions back then. I've not made much of a secret of my dislike of the whole thinking behind music libraries, but I can respect that they might make a bit on the side and its not pressure work. Just make sure its with a really reputable company.

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Music libraries

    I saw statistics a couple of years ago, and for the major networks, library music comprises about 10% of the total music used, mostly network promos and ads, and underscores on documentary/news shows (20/20., World News Tonight...) On cable however, it's much higher. Many cable shows use all library music, and as you've noticed, there are a LOT of cable channels. There are many varied libraries out there, but with cable & satellite adding more and more channels, and websites and games using music, the demand for it may keep growing-

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