Writing & Licensing Songs for Film & TV Episode 9: Show Me the Money Part 3: Where does the $ come from?
So this week I am going to talk about how your song makes money with respect to Film and TV. But it also helps to understand ALL the ways a song can make money. So here goes:
Here is how a song makes money:
1. Front End: means you get upfront money for the song through: Licensing/sync fees/Royalty free/CD sales/Digital downloads/
2. Back End: Means the money comes later through PROs and Digital collection agencies through: performance royalties (from broadcasts, live performance, live streaming) (in last weeks episode we talked about PRO’s)
Royalty Types (1 and 2 are Film and TV royalties)
1. Master/Synch Fees-
a. A music synchronization license, or "sync" for short, is a license granted by the holder of the copyright of a particular composition allowing the licensee to "sync" music with some kind of visual media output (film, television shows, advertisements, video games, accompanying website music, movie trailers, etc.) Wikipedia
b. You will often hear Master Synch fee… this means they are allowed to take the Master (sound recording) and Synch it with media.
2. Performance Royalties (exert from DIY CDBaby )
A performance royalty is the money paid to the songwriter and publisher whenever that composition is “broadcast” or performed “in public.”
· When a song plays on terrestrial, satellite radio, internet radio and music streaming services,
· Used in network and cable TV, Film, Commercials and Games
· Performances in live venues
These performance royalties are paid by the PROs (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC etc. More on them later) the more times your song is played the more back end royalty you will earn.
a. A mechanical license gives the right to record and distribute a certain number of units of that song for sale (-Getting Started in the Right Way in the New Millennium of Music Business- Amanda Williams www.SongwritingandMusicBuisiness.com
b. The mechanical comes from a reference to the mechanical process of recording a song to a fixed media, i.e. Vinyl records, CDs, mp3 etc.
c. Mechanical royalty rates are already set by the government (there is current legislation to try and change this) of 9.1 cents per song… yes you read that right, if you are NOT the publisher or the owner of the Sound Recording, you get a whopping 9.1 cents per song sold.
Here is how it is broken out if you sold a song on ITunes for example
NOTE: If you were the Sole owner of the song and recording, then you would also get the remaining dollars minus the ITunes cut.
Read more about mechanical licenses on Wikipedia
a. Money earned from the sale of sheet music
The digital on-line play of music via streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora etc. Unfortunately the amount one receives for this type of service is very small. Average song generates between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream in royalties, which is pathetic in my opinion….
Publisher’s and Splits
We mentioned in last weeks episode about employing your copyright. As soon as you use your song as a commodity, it becomes split into two equal parts,
the Writer’s share and the Publisher’s share
I’ll use an example that my friend, Nashville Songwriter Amanda Williams uses in her book; “Getting Started the Right Way In the New Millennium of Music Business.”
In her book she talks about the song “pie”. The song pie demonstrates who owns what part of the song with respect to publisher/writer splits (see diagram).
A publisher will do the pitching and plugging for you and for that work, they would then get the publisher’s share of the song pie. Just like in a book deal, the writer employees the publisher to distribute their book and the publisher gets a % of the money earned. The same thing is true of your song.
In Film and TV, when you earn a front end or any backend royalty for a song, and a publisher is involved, then the publisher will take their splits first before sending you your half of the money. ;) Note: if you are the sole writer and are acting as your own publisher, then you will receive both the publisher AND the writer’s share!
So to sum it up, there are several ways that your song can make you money. You will typically be splitting this money with a Publisher. However, by being your own publisher you can collect on 100% of the royalties the song makes.
Acting as your own publisher means that you have not signed a deal with a music publishing company and you are pitching the songs yourself to opportunities. You may or may not need to set up a publishing company with your PRO to collect this money.
Hope this helped! Check out the references below from today’s blog.
Next week we start to discuss the methods on how to be successful in this business. Fun and exciting stuff !!! Take Care!
DIY CDBaby ) -Performance Royalties explained
Music Business Information (A Great book!)
Getting Started in the Right Way in the New Millennium off Music Business- Amanda Williams www.SongwritingandMusicBuisiness.com
Michelle Lockey is a multi-award winning singer-songwriter sharing the knowledge she has learned over the years writing for Film & TV.
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