*There are some other (valid and/or funny) points in this version.
With master recording licensing and synchronization now being the current revenue-generating (post) and promotional (pre) system in the music industry, we see all the traditional recording exploitation boundaries disappear.
Music libraries take on scoring gigs, produce artists/songwriters, and ad work while maintaining their catalogs of TV-ready production music. Record labels seem to be fully hitched to omni-lateral licensing pie, artist endorsed ad campaigns, single tie-ins, whatever. Add the quick-and-easy factor of digital delivery AND soon-to-be ubiquitous audio recognition tech AND deeper metadata AND the slippery slope of what passes as acceptable quality both audio- and video-wise AND this is America: production = not a poem.
Point: The “production music” pool is one big pattern-recognizing server of every kind of gang. It’s all our turf. Can you dig it?
One of these “gangs” or business models in production music specific publishers is the re-title library or (to illustrate points using metaphor and acronym) INERT libraries. It’s a (typically) Independent Non-Exclusive Retitle music library that will rep your catalog after they give your (only) master a unique title. The library then registers that unique title to their PRO as publisher and can then (in theory) go forward and collect performance royalties on said title and also collect any other fees (direct license, sync) associated with its license. From the research I’ve done, this model has the composer world polarized.
On the surface, one would think: What’s to lose? I have tons of crap sitting on my drive doing nothing for nobody no-how. If someone can make me money and wants to take 50% please be my guest. And it’s non-exclusive? Even better. I’ll look up every re-title library and get cracking. Man, I am sitting on a fucking gold mine.
Should I sign with an INERT? The question creates more questions and that is the universal choking sign of a deal.
Independent: So you are broke and possibly driving around LA with pocket drives. You cannot afford a proper search engine, the likes of which, still gets complaints from end users. You probably do not operate outside of your territory (except the crappy site). You cannot afford admin power to register all 30 billion titles (you blindly signed to bulk up your catalog) in any timely fashion (I read a thread saying over 1 year before INERT x even registered new titles with their PRO). Their are no traditional business incentives between parties with no pay, no budget, no overhead. Get ready for phone-tag and long stretches of radio silence. I bet they’re busy filling out cue sheets for all those local networks they gave shit to. You would do it but–you don’t know the new titles of your fucking tracks. No one does. Am I wrong?
Non-Exclusive: Oh boy. You have special music for me to hear? I’ve never seen these titles before. What business acumen I possess is self-taught (I went to school for music) and rooted in logic: the idea is to be the exclusive rep for the shit people want. Kinda like Jesus is the exclusive rep for Heaven? There are tons of problems here.
1. Ubiquitous audio pattern recognition tech is coming. Super-fast. Practically infallible on buried tracks. Robotically vigilant. Stop thinking about sync windfalls or whether you prefer “tastemaker” or “trendsetter”. Think about that when BlueArrow or TuneSat spits out 10 titles for the same rejected demo. Who gets paid? I dunno. Was it ever properly licensed? I dunno.
2. Undercutting. Again these INERT libs have no overhead. They don’t pay upfront in either creative fees or advances and don’t necessarily offer a piece of sync. How do you know you are getting a fair price when 5 INERTS have your catalog in LA and everyone knows it? What about cheap direct license deals for say zero dollars? Depending on how postal they went stuffing their drive with orphan one-offs you might earn (besides nothing) but .00001 of zero. Even if they sell a direct license. It will be cheap and percentage based for you: the composer. The person who invented the thing.
3. Someone wants to pay real money for your track. The catch is they want to own it. Sorry composer even though it’s an INERT deal there’s a 2-5 year term. Exclusive buyout = better gig liken to a marriage or long-term meaningful relationship not the pathetic guy who thinks a stripper is in love with him, wants him to take her away from this harsh life of money, sex, drugs, and partying. Point: these INERT tracks are sluts and no network or any other worthwhile broadcast venue is gonna touch them. Worse what if a big publisher buys INERT x while you are under contract? See what people are saying about being under a 50/50 sync deal with Pimp née Pump when Getty came in and slashed prices to 65/35. Seems breachy.
Re-Title: So yeah I thought the master was copyrighted not a title. Re-titling started as a poor-man’s watermark so composers when reviewing their statements could see that Library “A” made them $10 richer than Library “B” because my track “A01″ was licensed (the editors must have been inspired by that title). I’ve seen some shit titles. Like “0022933397″ and “qqqqq_9″. Thanks INERT. The task of finding music that fits a production is anathema to editors even in the most state-of-the-art situations. Proper music libraries are constantly trying to improve this process. Forget the unethical implications and near-fraud scenarios available in the INERT lib world. If I was an editor and saw a huge list of bullshit titles like those I’d erase the drive and put mixes on it. As a composer I feel disrespected by a wannabe publisher. I’m the one making you money not the other way around. I invented the product and you are selling it.
To the INERT libs: You are devaluing production music in terms of quality, ease of use, and fair sync fees. There seem to be bigger name INERT libs that also have generated polarization. I’ve read horror stories about them all ranging from inclusion after rejection, months of incommunicado, the Pump-Getty debacle, launches and shutdowns. You are setting a bad precedent that will fail and if your shit is that good (can’t be if it’s free) then go exclusive and form a proper library. This happens in dance music labels all the time: DJ Tink forms Tink Recs = no split.
To the pro-INERT composer: OK fine do what you want. Some of you are awesome and probably friends of mine and there are exceptions to any editorial. But those on your high-horse about copyright control and demanding the right to exploit this type of revenue stream? Please that sounds so desperate and bitter and lazy. You always leave room for ownership in projects don’t you? You know deep down it’s shady and is setting up for a fall. You know the placements INERTs get are small potatoes, few and far between, shrinking.
Some of those tracks sitting on your drives are there for a reason. I know that indie you scored last year paid zero and your girlfriend thinks it could be on Sundance Channel but even so here’s $100. Now go email INERT x for months trying to get it. I’ve worked for the major exclusives down to the guy driving around LA with a hard drive and the rampant re-titling deal not only seems wrong…it just seems lame. And vehemently hanging onto the INERT model like some shred of hope for some orphan masters that no one has the balls to kindly tell you suck? It’s Loman-esque. Re-cut it for proper exclusive library consumption for two reasons: a. you believe in audio recog tech. b. your work deserves better repping. If you refuse to re-cut, you are a precious lazy bastard. If you cannot re-cut, it probably won’t be used on TV anyway. Hear that through-composers? Put your best foot forward and pay for your lunch. No matter what, you must go away and make amazing tracks appear out of thin air.