Tag Archives: ASCAP

Sound Effects and Cue Sheets

Because of the lack of education in the film production community about cue sheets, we get a constant flow of questions about cue sheet filings. This post’s question is about sound effects.

Question: We purchased some audio sound effects from Productiontrax.com recently, and are filing cue sheets. Do we need to include every sound file we used on the cue sheet? How do we do this?

You can breathe a sigh of relief, because this one has an easy answer: no. Sound effects are not entered on cue sheets (unless it’s a bona fide musical composition).

There’s a technical copyright-law-legalese explanation for why that is, but basically, one can’t stake a claim to the underlying intellectual property of a fart or a honk or a quack or a bark or a… you get the idea. While the actual sound recording is copyrighted, and yes, you need to license it, there is no public performance right associated to it, and therefore, there is no need to track it.

As briefly mentioned, however, the one exception is when a sound effect contains a musical composition. For example, a sound effect of someone playing or singing Happy Birthday would need to be reported on a cue sheet. Why? Because the song Happy Birthday is under copyright (yes it is) and has public performance rights and royalties attached to it.

Hopefully, this should come as a relief to all of you out there who like to throw a million sound effects into a single production project — like we did in our YouTube video. Leave the sound effects off your cue sheets (in fact, our automated cue sheet tool will not even let them be entered) — and sit back and enjoy the fruits of you labor for once.

Licensing Previews is Absurd and Just Bad Business

In this article, Greg Sandoval writes about the “plight” of todays artist when it comes to digital music sales:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/09/17/tech/cnettechnews/main5318276.shtml

In my personal opinion, performing rights societies are starting to overstep their bounds, trying to get more from an outdated business model, instead of adapting to the new market. Let’s go through this one point at a time, shall we?

“Songwriters, composers, and music publishers are making preparations to one day collect performance fees from Apple and other e-tailers for not just traditional music downloads but for downloads of films and TV shows as well. Those downloads contain music after all. “

Collecting performance fees from retailers is absurd. They already pay the copyright administrators to carry and sell your product in their sales commission/revenue split. The fees for music included as part of films and TV shows are included in synchronization contracts, and are negotiated at that time. It is ridiculous to charge the vendor of your finished product for your manufacturing costs. That would be like the grocery store that sells Kraft cheese having to pay Kraft’s dairy farmers. That is Kraft’s job. iTunes should not have to pay John Williams every time Star Wars: Episode 47 is downloaded from their store — they pay Lucas Films, and Lucas Films should be responsible for paying John Williams.

“These groups even want compensation for iTunes’ 30-second song samples.”

Charging music retailers a public performance fee for previews is absurd. It would be like charging a store that sells CDs every time a customer picks up a CD off the shelf to see who is on it before they decide to buy it. Currently, 30-second previews are covered by standard digital download mechanical licenses, and are a necessary part of selling the music online. People won’t buy a song unless they know what they are buying — just like I won’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on first. Charging music services for this will undercut digital music distribution in general and is bad business for an already suffering retail music industry. Like another blogger wrote: …”according to ASCAP/BMI’s logic Macy’s should have to pay Ralph Lauren money for people to try on clothes in their store.”

“But these royalty-collection groups say they’re at the bottom of the music-sector food chain and aren’t trying to gouge anyone. They say their livelihoods are threatened and wonder why movie studios, big recording companies, TV networks, and online retailers are allowed to profit from their work but they aren’t. ”
“We make 9.1 cents off a song sale and that means a whole lot of pennies have to add up before it becomes a bunch of money,” said Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters’ Guild of America. “Yesterday, I received a check for 2 cents. I’m not kidding. People think we’re making a fortune off the Web, but it’s a tiny amount. We need multiple revenue streams or this isn’t going to work.”

Articles like this make it sound like composers aren’t getting their fair share. And it is simply not true at all. Any composer who is good at what they do, and has successfully marketed their work, and intelligently structured their contracts, is making a living. And Rick Carnes?? Who has heard anything by Rick Carnes?? THAT is why he only got a check for 2 cents. HE HASN’T WRITTEN ANYTHING ANYONE LISTENS TO!!!! Look him up on ASCAP or BMI. So he’s written a few hundred tunes that no one has ever heard of. SO HAVE I. So have 95% of Americans in the shower. That doesn’t mean he deserves to pay his bills with his music. He simply has not met the demands of the music marketplace with his product. Sounds to me like he is asking for a bail out. Why don’t we try quoting a musician who is actually making music that is in demand by the public?

I agree with Potter’s position — songwriters ARE getting paid for their download — they are getting their mechanical fee, which is 9.1 cents per copy (which happens to be set by law), they are getting their sync license fee for video downloads (which is determined at contract negotiation).

“In 2005, ASCAP entered into a rate-court proceeding to set licensing fees for the music services of Yahoo, AOL, and RealNetworks. A U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York delivered a blow to composers and songwriters by ruling that downloading music from a Web store was not a music performance. On the other hand, the judge found that streaming music was subject to a performance fee.

“The songwriter gets a performance fee if the song is streamed without the video,” Carnes noted. “But if it is downloaded within an audio-visual work like a movie we don’t get a performance fee–same song, no money.”

Carnes is manipulating terms here, making it sound like the judge’s ruling was unfair. Songwriters don’t get performance fees from VHS or DVD sales either. No one complains about that! That’s because they get their mechanicals and sync fees, which they are (or should be) getting from downloads of those same movies. A download is a physical product sale, not a performance. Streaming is different than downloading. Streaming implies a real-time broadcast. In other words, if a download is a performance, then why am I still paying sales tax (tangible personal property tax) on a downloaded product? Artists have no right to collect a performance royalty for a product they are already being paid for. If the artists want more, they need to change the terms of the mechanical and sync payments. Change the mechanical fee to 15 cents a copy. Negotiate for better splits on sync rights. Don’t take it out on the consumer who has made you popular in the first place.

The moral of the story here is that ASCAP and BMI (and others), with all their good intentions to protect the intellectual property rights of their members, are now crossing the line and are further destroying the business of retail music, blaming it on technology, rather than embracing new media distribution channels. They are diminishing product availability, which hurts the two groups that ultimately pay the songwriters’ paychecks — the retailers and consumers.

Copyright Law – Are Artists Asking For More Than Their Fair Share?

This from TechDirt:

The main backers of the online video site Hulu, NBC Universal and News Corp., are two of the stronger supporters of our copyright system, and have, at times, been known to push to make it even more stringent in order to “protect” their works. So, it’s interesting to see them discovering that draconian copyright rules can come back and bite them as well. We were just covering some of the problems various TV shows have had being put on DVD due to licensing problems, and now it appears those same problems are making it difficult to get some shows up on Hulu — despite the fact producers would like those shows online.

One of our readers, named Mark, wrote in to let us know that he and his wife had been watching the old TV show The Pretender on Hulu, when they realized that some of the episodes were simply missing (including the entire final season). He wrote to Hulu to ask why, and was told:

“Thank for letting us know that some episodes from The Pretender appear to be missing from our lineup. Individual episodes are sometimes held up due to rights issues, quite often related to music used in the show – and that’s the case this time – some of the music in episodes 17 and 18 couldn’t be cleared for online streaming. We’ll continue to request them from our content partner, but at this time we can’t offer them though we’d love to.”

It’s still difficult to understand why we would ever design copyright law and licensing policy in this manner. After all, having certain songs included in a TV show is never going to hurt the commercial viability of a song.

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The question being asked by many non-musicians and non-artists consumers (mostly who just want to buy the complete season of CSI on DVD) is this: are musicians and composers asking too much to be paid each time their song is aired in a TV show? If a piece of clothing is sold, for example Ben buys a shirt, the clothing designer only get paid once, even though the shirt may be worn hundreds of times by Ben. So why should a song in a TV show generate a royalty for each broadcast and subsequent DVD of the same show? Should composers be paid once, up front, for the usage, and then let that be it? What about when the TV show get’s put on DVD? Is it the same product still? Are artists and copyright law correct in demanding additional compensation? Do the laws need to be changed?

I, for one, am a proponent of intellectual property rights. A copyright owner should be able to sell and license a work as he or she sees fit. If a consumer cannot afford the cost of one artist’s work, move on to the next offer, or write your own song. An artist should be compensated for the time and expertise it took to create such a high-demand piece of art. If TV networks are unwilling to pay the cost of licensing, they have the ability to move to the next option on the affordability chain. It’s their responsibility to balance cost against the demand of their audience.

Productiontrax Introduces New Cue Sheet Tool

The new cue sheet tool allows customers to quickly and easily create a cue sheet for their project, using pre-completed information taken directly from your track information.

License B customers will receive an automatic email reminder to complete cue sheets a couple days after their purchase. The cue sheet tool is available right from the download page (which has also been re-designed). The customer will be able to enter the info about their project, how much of your track was used, and how it was used. The composer and publisher information is pulled directly from the information you have provided in your account.

Once the cue sheet is finished, the completed form will be assembled and automatically get emailed directly to the appropriate performing rights organization. A copy will also be cc’d to you via email, as well as a copy for the customer. We will also keep a copy on file. Because the cue sheets are being sent in completed form, the info will not be stored in your account, so be sure to keep your email address current on your account.

You can edit publisher information for individual tracks right on the track pages. If you already have entered publisher information in the composer profile, it has already been pulled to match the corresponding tracks (no need to go in and edit all your tracks). If you aren’t sure, you should check a few of your tracks.

If you do not have a publishing company set up, entered in your track information, or just don’t care about performance royalties, Productiontrax will be listed as your publisher (Twin Light Music Publishing – ASCAP), and will distribute you any publishing royalties we receive on your usual 65/35 split, and will be listed on your monthly statement as ‘additional royalties.’ We recommend setting up your own publishing company to collect these royalties yourself.

For more information about cue sheets please visit the cue sheet information page on our web site.

And don’t forget to check out the latest Royalty Free Music, Sound Effects, Video Footage and Stock Photography.