Category Archives: Composer Tips

Tips for composers who are interested in creating, distributing and earning a living from a catalog of royalty free music.

When Composers of Royalty Free Music Die What Happens to Their Music and Earnings?

This article is for royalty free music composers specifically but is good advice for anybody in business.

Composers who are distributing their royalty free music catalog via online websites like ours need to take into consideration the frailty of the human condition and the fact that anything can happen to you and it could happen to you today. I actually had a good friend of mine get killed when he got hit by a bus, he stepped off the curb at the wrong time and bang, that was it. ‘Getting hit by a bus’ is a such an overused cliche but it really makes you think about life when it actually happens.

The issue with composers of royalty free music catalogs is basically…
Does your wife/husband know your Paypal password?
Does your wife/husband know which websites you are distributing your music through?
Does your wife/husband even know that you are making money online with your music?

The Partners In Rhyme Family of Composers
We have been distributing music online for 17 years. Some of our composers have been with us for over 15 years. That is why we always refer to our roster of composers as the ‘Partners In Rhyme family of composers’ and that is why we are so careful about who we let into our family of composers.
In that amount of time we have seen many of our composers have major ups and downs, get married and divorced, lots of them have had children and we have also unfortunately had two of our composers die.

I will explain the importance of this issue by telling you a couple of very personal stories involving Partners In Rhyme composers.

A Long Time PIR Composer Disappears
A few years ago I had noticed that one of our composers who had been distributing his royalty free music catalog with us since the very early days had not contacted me with new music or questions in a very long time. I had sent him a few emails to see how he was doing with no response. I finally figured he must have changed his email address and I started searching online for his name.
The first thing I found was a Myspace page full of condolence messages. I was shocked. Our composer had died a year before and we had been selling his music and making payments to his paypal account during that entire time.
It took a lot more digging, almost like digital forensic work, but I was finally able to find his wife’s email address via another Myspace page and contacted her. I wrote to her to explain that her husband had been earning, and was being paid, all this money and we had no idea that he was dead. After a few back and forth emails I finally made clear what the situation was and we started sending his payments to her Paypal account instead. I don’t think she ever understood the situation regarding the previous year’s payments though and to this day I think the composer’s original paypal account is sitting there with close to $10,000 in it, unclaimed.
She is, at least, still earning money to this day and the composer’s music is still being used in all kinds of projects.

Musicloops.com Composer Disappears
The same situation happened more recently when I couldn’t get a response to a request for a 1099 form from one of our musicloops.com composers and I ended up doing another web search only to find condolence websites instead. I was able to contact his wife but in the end we had to delete his music catalog because she simply did not want to understand or deal with what I was telling her about her husband’s earnings and that we were distributing his music.
I understood that it was a difficult time for her but I think her husband would have wanted her to have the monthly earnings and also would have wanted his music to live on and be used in projects for years to come.

Take Away Advice
This is kind of a depressing article but it is something to think about.
Let your significant other or a trusted family member know what you are doing with your music, give somebody the password to your paypal account and let them know the email addresses of the people you are dealing with in regards to your royalty free music catalog.
If you get hit by the proverbial bus you will probably no longer care what happens to your musical legacy but your loved ones probably will.

Let me know what you think about this issue, post your comments and suggestions below.

Thanks,
Mark

Free Online and Offline Audio File Conversion

At Partners In Rhyme we deliver all of the audio our customers order in WAV format. Some of our customers need their audio in MP3 format and we help them with instructions on how to easily convert their audio to any format they need using free iTunes software.
For those of your who do not want to download software to convert your audio there is a new free online audio conversion site just for you called Media.io
http://media.io/

To convert using iTunes follow the instructions below:

Converting to MP3 is very easy. If you don’t already have it download the free app iTunes (Mac or PC) here:

http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/

Load all of the sounds into iTunes (simply drag and drop in most operating systems) then choose iTunes > Preferences
Click on the ‘General’ tab, then click on the ‘Import Settings’ button and choose ‘MP3 Encoder’.
You can also choose the quality setting you want or choose ‘custom’ if you have a specific setting in mind.
Click OK. Then go back to the library, select all of your tracks that you want to convert, then choose Advanced > Create MP3 Version.
Once that is done you will have an MP3 version of the track in your iTunes music folder.

Interview with Sound Designer for Red Dead Redemption

Read Dead Redemption is one of my favorite PS3 games, not only for the game play but for the beautiful environments, musical soundtrack and flawless sound design.
I am posting a link to an in depth interview the audio director of Red Dead Redemption.

The interview is by Miguel Isaza for designingsound.org

When I saw the first images of Red Dead Redemption I knew that it will be a beautiful and amazing game. Then, the gameplay confirmed me that not only the visuals were great. The sound work there was fantastic. Clean mix, great sounds, and a perfect sonic experience for any player. So, if like me, you wanted to know more about the sound direction of the game, here is an interview with its audio director Jeffrey Whitcher.

Interview with Music Supervisor Greg Debonne

Arron, the owner at PlayItLoudMusic.com has kindly given me permission reprint his interview with Music Supervisor Greg Debonne here in its entirety.

Interview with Gregory Debonne

Greg’s credentials can be found on numerous reality shows with networks including MTV, VH1, The Discovery Channel, SPIKE, A&E, Lifetime, BRAVO, to a name a few. As a music supervisor with experience as a composer/arranger in conjunction with session work on production music cues, Debonne also is a well integrated member of the Los Angeles music community. To top it off he has perfect pitch!

We want to thank Greg again for taking the time to answer our questions on a Sunday night.

There is a lot of great insight here!

What got you into Music Supervision?

I’ve been involved in music all my life. Prior to music supervision, I was an associate producer of reality television shows. An AP job on reality television shows has morphed, but back in the day -in the early 2000s- you actually had some reality shows on MTV and VH1 that were music oriented whereby as the AP, I was also kind of the music coordinator as well. I had to handle all of the clearance for that as well, the liaison between the production

and clearance. On shows where there was a music super, I would assist that music super because I knew the MTV and VH1 systems of doing things so well. It was a natural segway for me to go into music supervision.

How has it changed the way you listen to music?

I’ve always listened to music from an arrangemental and orchestral standpoint, but now I listen to music relative to what’s going to work well to picture in that regard as well. I’m listening to the phrasing of every instrumental element individually, as well as combined, assessing just how easy it is for a music editor to cut that piece of music to picture underneath dialogue, assessing its compositional value and the dynamic ebb and flow in that regard, as well as other aesthetic nuances.

How can artists find out about new projects and their related music supervisors?

Different artists have different ways of going about it. But I know people who literally get online and find out who is the music supervisor of what shows. People look up shows that I’ve done. “Oh, who’s the music supervisor on that? Oh, Greg Debonne. Well then, I’m going to google Greg Debonne.” So, there’s that approach.

There’s also the approach of where you simply know of the music super’s name and you contact them and say “Hi, are you’re looking for music?” That music supervisor will get back to you and either say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ It always helps for an artist to know what that music supervisor is looking for stylistically. Now, there are some music supervisors who only want what they’re looking for at the time, pertinent to whatever project they’re working. Me, I won’t turn anyone away if it’s good and potentially viable for future use. However, if it’s not applicable to whatever project I’m working at the time, I may not get to it right away.

Click Here to Read The Full Interview Continue reading

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 [email protected]

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.