Pump Audio Demands (A lot) More Money From Their Composers

Pump Audio has sent out the notice posted below to all of their contributors.
It basically says that from now on their split will be 35% to the artists and 65% to Getty Images.

It would be surprising if this was a Pump Audio decision but it is definitely not surprising that this is a Getty Images decision. Getty Images along with Jupiter Images are pretty ruthless in how they treat their composers. And their composers are the ones who make their business models profitable.

Dear Pump Audio Artist,

We would like to thank you for your music and congratulate you on being part of one of the fastest growing music licensing companies in the world. Since the acquisition of Pump Audio by Getty Images, we continue to hear praises from a wide expansion of our clients on the depth and quality of our catalog and that is a testament to you.

As we plan for the future growth of our offering to the global music licensing client base, we have determined that to fully support the 400+ person Getty Images sales staff and invest in marketing and technology needs that we must make adjustments to the current revenue split system. By making these changes, we intend to accelerate the pace of our growth and achieve our goal of becoming the largest music licensor in the world.

The new model will be as following:

1) Licensing fees will now be 35% to the artist, 65% to Pump Audio/Getty Images

2) This change will take place as of July 1, 2009. Any royalties payable through June 30, 2009 will not be affected by this change

3) Performance royalty splits will remain at 50% of the publisher’s share

4) Those that don’t accept the new split will have their music removed from the system no later than December 31, 2009.

5) The rights you granted to us in the original contract do not change

If you have any questions, please email artistrelations@pumpaudio.com.

Please sign the enclosed amendment and send back to Artist Relations.

I have been reading about this development on blogs like the themusicsnob.com here
Pump Audio Reduces Music Licensing Payments

There are lots of comments regarding this move by Getty and Pump Audio, most of them bad, things like;

“That’s defaulting on the contract. If they have a signed agreement with me that states 50/50 and they decide to make changes to the split, they need to have a new contract signed with that agreement, which I will not do, and if they default on my contract and change the terms without my written consent, I will sue them.”

and;

“You have to really stay on top of things with Pump/Getty and I will definitely be looking for alternatives. Just when I was thinking they were cool it turns out to be another artist-leaching corporation”

I’d also like to quote Scott Hallgren, Owner/composer/producer at Scootman Music Productions http://www.scootmanmusic.com

Scott has contacted his rep at Pump Audio with some direct questions and received these as replies

1. Nacia at Pump couldn’t promise me the problems they’ve been having reconciling all of their databases (including, among other things: incorrect contact, PRO, and direct deposit info) are going to be fixed anytime soon. Even with all the new bodies, notice none are dedicated to admin…

2. She also informed me that Pump would now be giving their ‘clients’ UP TO A YEAR to report usage. Not pay, just report! So an artist could conceivably be waiting for 2+ years for payment if the bi-annual reporting didn’t fall in one’s favor.

3. I’ve also learned from another source that Pump are 15 months behind in registering their PRO info.

Scott goes on to say:

I have music in the PumpBox and have gotten a placement, but after this and the forced addition of our content to iStockPhoto.com (without receiving the benefits that people who joined iStock of their own volition, natch), I’m beginning to wonder if I need to ‘beat feet’ and let my participation die a natural death…

I think one of the reasons behind the success of Partners In Rhyme and www.musicloops.com and www.sound-effect.com is that we are a company run by musicians, first and foremost we think of our musicians above all else because we know first-hand what it is like to try to make a living at composing music.

It is difficult in that musicians are just that, musicians, they do not have MBAs or degrees in marketing and promotion and they are often times completely socially inept. To expect a musician to spend his/her days producing creative work and then ask them to also handle all the business dealings plus the marketing, self promotion, accounting, etc, etc. is a really big ask.

At Partners In Rhyme we are trying to make a place where musicians just have to create, we take of the rest and send them a nice paycheck every month. I can promise you we will never turn “corporate” (even though we are incorporated) and we will always be on the side of the little guy.

50/50 Forever! :-)

So how do you feel about this new development at Pump Audio?

Do you have music in their library and are you going to keep it there?

Are you also looking for alternatives like these other Pump Audio composers?

Tell us your feelings and what your plans are. It might help other composers figure out their own way forward.

  • Musicmaker

    PumpAudio started out as a business by musicians for musicians. Now it’s a total shakedown.

  • dave

    I had a song “accepted” by PumpAudio last January, was told it would be in the catalogue within six months, and then heard about the change in the 50/50 split. I thought it sucked, but since this was the first song I’d “placed” anywhere, I sucked it up.

    The joke was on me, because after questioning them a few times about why my song was not in the catalogue 10 months later, they told me it had been rejected. (The January email from them saying it had been accepted is irrelevant, apparently.) I was told with a straight face that sometimes Pump rejects songs that they’ve accepted. (I voted against it after I voted for it?) My questions regarding this odd practice have gone unanswered.

    Hey, that’s show biz!

    • Joey

      After over two years with Pump I told them to stick it up their a$$ !!!! This raping of the artist has to stop ! Every artist can do their share by saying ” NO ” !!!

  • http://www.soundgram.com Johan van der Voet

    I have posted the Pump Audio story on several groups, and all reactions are the same. Shame! to kill the 50/50 split. And I hope all composers (and publishers?) will have their music taken off so that the value of pump is gone.
    if the industry values the music at less than 50%, than you say that “the way it is sold” to music users, is more important than the actual product you sell.

    Now let’s say a track was sold for $1000.
    Pump would get $500, you (composer) would get $500. (a 50/50 split)
    Now Pump drops the price to $769 (in their new 35/65 deal) Yes, thats $500 for Pump and only 269 for the composer…
    It’s as simple as that. They will devaluate the music, because their next deal will be 30/70. Than 25/75 and so on…

    Please value your own work and don’t sign the deal!!!
    Regards Johan.

  • Scott Hallgren

    @Simone

    Simone, I’d like to know where you get your information; if you’re a rep for Getty or Pump, I believe people on this post have a right to know. Regardless, my information IS all quotes from my Pump rep, and I not only refuse to believe that Pump pays artists for usages before Pump gets paid (which makes no business sense whatsoever), but it’s also difficult for me to imagine there isn’t a premium on PumpBox usages BECAUSE you can’t know about placements until they are reported. And you’re statement about reporting contradicts itself; if there’s a PumpBox usage, I seriously doubt that the licensing paperwork for the music is anything but the last thing filed, and given that there’s every incentive to delay paying (and filing cue sheets in many cases) for it as long as possible, why wouldn’t it be?

    And clients aren’t the only people who can report usages to PRO’s; anyone who controls their publishing can.

    Mark, I appreciate being quoted, and it would behoove you to verify Simone’s identity.

  • http://monalia.com Lia

    @Simone
    Simone, is it true that from now on the Pump Audio split will be 35% to the artists and 65% to Getty Images? This is terrible news for the artists who have made your fortune if it is true.

    Thank God for companies like Partners In Rhyme who remain loyal to their composers.

  • http://www.partnersinrhyme.com admin

    Hi Simone,
    Thanks for the comment and the clarification.

  • Simone

    In response to Pump only asking clients to report yearly, this is untrue. Clients report at different times during the year. Some report quarterly, bi-annually, and their biggest client Viacom only reports once a year. In order for Pump to be aware of a placement from a PumpBox the client must report the usage. Just like with PRO’s like ASCAP or BMI. Pump has no way of knowing about these placements unless reported. However they are aware of SoundTrack usages.

    Also Pump Audio pays artists once they have received reporting, NOT payment.