Hey Pump Audio – What’s with all the fees?

So I just got my second email in less than a year from Music Licensing service Pump Audio, explaining that the fees (or in this case, percentage of master recording licensing) is increasing. Hilariously, one of the reasons they give for the increase is “the need to support 400+ Getty Images Sales & Support Staff”.

Let’s take a jump back in time -In 2006, Pump Audio were an innovative service who worked with artists of all stripes, taking your music and finding placements for the music in film, tv, advertising and digital media. They’d take 50% of any deal done (of the master side) and 50% of the publishers share of publishing royalties. Not a great deal, but not terrible, either. And as other players began to emerge in the space (Rumblefish, MuSync), this was pretty much the standard.

But in 2008, Getty Images bought Pump Audio. And that’s when the emails started coming in.

The “percentage of sales” model was, and still is, a popular model for these kinds of services. Indeed, distribution (both physical and digital), rely on it. But the real question is not “what percentage are you taking” but “what are you providing for that percentage?”

Where is the value-add that the company gives you and is it WORTH that percentage? When they tell you about their value add (e.g. marketing services, pitching to music supes or in Pump’s case “improvements in marketing technology” (huh?)), where is their track record for music like yours? And more importantly, for all the hoops you’ll be jumping through to sign up, will you simply get lost in the massive soup of music that exists on the services servers?

Reminds me of a quote by Ian Rogers:

“Any of us, myself included, that are not either the artist or the fan, are just potentially in the way. So it’s on us to provide value. To provide real value. And that’s fine with me. I’m very happy to say, OK, my company has to provide real value. My company is not about lock-in. It’s not about me owning your masters. It’s about me providing value to you, and if I can’t, well, then I should get the hell out of the way. So I really encourage you, when thinking about the music business, to think about marginal profitability for artists first and foremost, and to think about the companies that enable that, and to forget about the ones that don’t.”

So: would you, or have you, signed up and worked with companies like Pump Audio? What’s your experience? What could make them better for you, as an artist or label?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Advertisements

3 Responses to Hey Pump Audio – What’s with all the fees?

  1. jon says:

    way to stick it to the man, Nick.

    Music always comes back to quality not quantity.

    I used to encourage Pump to artists and know many that have signed up with them. But I don’t think any of them have been placed in anything significant, except for the instrumental-library-producer-crowd. With these new splits, I would tell them all to run and take their music with them, except the instrumental-library-producer-crowd who aren’t planning to use the music for anything else.

    The best deals happen when you’re pulling, not pushing. Artists+Managers can do this on their own these days. It should be another part of the busines plan. Ask yourself:
    1. What shows regularly place songs like mine?
    2. What brands use music like mine?
    3. What production companies use sounds like mine?
    Make a list. Research and reach out. Share your music. Repeat. If a song works, the song works or it might work down the road.

    Hook Audio receives music licensing requests from music supervisors daily. Most of them already know our sound and trust our ears. Even better, we are quick and easy to work with whcih makes their life easier. We send music to them regularly. 3-5 tracks customized around their ears. Just the best of the best. Our list has grown over the years and I think every band could do the same. Well, at least the best of the best.

    Music always comes back to quality not quantity.

  2. pennydist says:

    Amen, Jon – and I’m entirely aware of the irony of what I posted above given my business model – but I’m committed to adding value as a service and I believe we do.

    The tips on licensing are great – it’s always about fitting that square peg into the square hole. It’s not going to fit if you keep trying to force it! Find the right shaped holes for your music, and suggest solutions for music supervisors. In that environment, a “pitch” for your music isn’t even necessary.

    Hook does a great job knowing the “problem” inside and out, and suggesting a “solution” to the relevant folks. Screaming LICENSE MY MUSIC, especially on the scales that seem common for music licensing libraries.

  3. The tips on licensing are great – it’s always about fitting that square peg into the square hole. It’s not going to fit if you keep trying to force it! Find the right shaped holes for your music, and suggest solutions for music supervisors. In that environment, a “pitch” for your music isn’t even necessary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: