Composing : Ascap - bmi by Joel Irwin

Joel Irwin

Ascap - bmi

I started back in the music biz in 2003 - 10 years before my first film score. Since 2013, I have scored 31 films but only two of them have made it online - one spent two years on Amazon and one made it about a year or so back to shorts.tv - a channel carried by directtv and perhaps other providers. I know for a fact they were both viewed but probably not many times. And yet neither have submitted data to ASCAP that they have been seen at all. After multiple discussions with ASCAP (so far), I have been told that ASCAP does not ask for the data even if the composer asks them to. They 'sample'. That to me suggests that if my showings were not in the sample or perhaps if there were not a sufficient number of showings (i.e., showing number is below a threshold), then ASCAP gets nothing and I get nothing. Shorts.TV told my production company their policy is not to submit data at all about what they show and they don't pay composers at all. Strange.... :) and I had always thought that if I scored a film that showed online or on cable/satellite channels, I would get paid royalties - even if it was $1 or even less.

(and btw - I submitted my cuesheets twice to ASCAP myself since neither my production cos/filmmaker or the showing entities did so themselves)

So for those of you ASCAP - is the same experience you have had and for those of you BMI, do they operate differently from ASCAP? And if you are not U.S. - share which PRO you are a part of and if you get adequately re-reimbursed for royalties for your showings.

Joanna Karselis

That is an awful attitude from Shorts.TV, sorry you've encountered that. I've had the same difficulties here in the UK with PRS, submitting cue sheets for multiple films on Amazon Prime and still not receiving any royalties (though I don't know if they do the same "sample" thing, or if there's just a bad backlog).

Unfortunately there isn't much money in streaming royalties for anyone. I was at a conference a few years ago where a composer who wrote the theme tune for a very, very high profile, multi-season British TV show was on the panel. He shared that one season finale was streamed 15 million times on the BBC iPlayer- and he received £15 in royalties. There's certainly change in the air over here, but I expect it'll be several more years before any composers (UK or otherwise) finally get decent income from streaming services.

Joel Irwin

Got a call from ASCAP today. First about my Amazon film (spent three years on Amazon Prime), they said they don't pay royalties on any film with less than 100,000 showings. And about my film on the shorts.tv channel, they said they don't have a contract with that channel directly but rather with directv and at&t uverse (and three small services). And then they 'sample' what is played on all those services and my scored film does not show up in the sample. I'll leave my 'conclusions' out of this post....

Joanna Karselis

Oh I'm sorry Joel, that's so frustrating. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that PROs aren't bothered about supporting the incomes of smaller composers.

Joel Irwin

Has anyone lurking here been paid royalties for music in a film that has had say under 1,000 showings on ANY cable channel, satellite channel, Amazon, Apple TV or Netflix?

Karen "Kay" Ross

Joel - Your last question is a FANTASTIC question, but I don't want it to get buried in this thread. Would you start a new post with this question?

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