Dear PCAM Member,
This is the latest in a series of Newsletters that we publish five times a year, following meetings of the PCAM Committee.
Each Newsletter contains a brief report from the recent Committee meeting, plus other current news and views and an edited version of a recent query to the PCAM Helpdesk.
This Newsletter also contains the first of a two-part series of observations and advice for those members who are being commissioned in the area of audio or sonic branding, set out by PCAM Chair Paul Reynolds.
We would like to receive more contributions to the Newsletter from PCAM members. If you want to write something for inclusion or send us a link to something interesting you have read or seen, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PCAM Committee
— Message from the PCAM Chair
— Support with Sonic/Audio Branding Part 2
— PCAM Fair Remuneration campaign
— PCAM Q&As Volume 3 now available
— New PCAM Assistant
— Fifth International Uuno Klami Composition Competition
— Members List on the PCAM website
— Professional Indemnity Insurance for PCAM members
— Notes from the PCAM Committee Meeting: 21 February 2023
— Committee Meeting Dates in 2023
— Case Study from the PCAM Helpdesk
MESSAGE FROM THE PCAM CHAIR
In my last message I referred to the market producing much more audiovisual content than ever, but with much lower budgets available. This trend certainly feels like it’s ramping up as the year progresses. Many members report briefs for original composition work that have budgets less than MCPS library fees. In some cases, the project itself is reasonably high profile with a fairly standard production budget, but the composition fee is very low because … well … because of us! When we accept rock bottom rates that are far below the value of what you and your work is worth, it very quickly becomes the norm and it sets client expectations.
Perhaps we are lacking some confidence? I often bleat in these pages about making sure you get paid for the value you and your work brings. Right now is the time when we have to be fully confident in ourselves to reject ridiculously low budgets. You, just like everyone else in the advertising chain, are rightfully due fair remuneration. Is there anywhere else in production that would or even could accept such poor pay?
With work being tough to come by, the temptation is just to accept as much as possible, irrespective of the fee. But I strongly urge you not to do that ‘favour’ or accept a crappy deal in return for ‘the next big job’. I’ve never known a favour to pay off with return business that is much more financially rewarding. It’s more likely you will become the cheaper option. Better to remain confident. The next big job will be just around the corner.
But before you hang up your headphones in despair at this issue, there is some promising news. The Q4 2022 Bellwether report by the IPA was much more positive than Q3. The key findings of the report, which pulls data trends from a panel of approximately 300 UK marketing professionals, was much more positive than it has been for quite a while. Marketing budgets are inflating to support brands through the impending downturn with video-based marketing, with all market segments except events registering the strongest upward revision since being monitored in Q1 2020. This is great news and I hope it will lead to a surge in work throughout the spring.
I’ll leave you with this quote from marketer Amy Roberts, Head of Planning for Media Agency Group: “We are continuing to see growth for video-led media, which now offers so much opportunity for brands, with lots of creative avenues to provide a well-rounded, entertaining and engaging advertising campaign. The strongest budgets last quarter came from TV marketing campaigns.”
This is excellent!
Paul Reynolds – PCAM Chair.
SUPPORT WITH SONIC/AUDIO BRANDING: PART 2
Paul Reynolds writes:
Following on from the last Newsletter, we continue with information that could be helpful for members starting out in the area of sonic/audio branding.
As a reminder, if you are working with a creative agency, they will often insulate you from many of the tricky processes you can experience when working with a brand, and the path to winning and completing the work tends to be much more simple — but the downside is that the work itself tends to be more executional than strategic. As a lot of members are finding themselves being commissioned for work directly by a brand rather than by a creative agency, the following notes should prove helpful to ensure you enjoy the work and avoid the common pitfalls.
The work process
If you are not used to working on a sonic brand, you may find the process quite different to anything you’ve done before. There are many stages of work before you even get in the studio. You may be either handling the whole project yourself or be contracted by a sonic branding company that will take care of a lot of the non-composition work.
The main stages of the work are:
Understand the brand. The first step is to understand the brand. What are its values? What is its personality? What is the target audience? Once you have a good understanding of the brand, you can start to develop a better understanding of what music suits the brand and the intended audience.
Research. The next step is desk research, looking at the musical landscape. Are other similar brands using sonic identities? What is the brand and its peers doing with music? What are the latest trends in sonic branding? From here, you can start to develop a brief for a sonic identity that learns from others but is unique and memorable.
Brief. Once you have a good understanding of the brand and the sonic landscape, you can start to create the brief. This is often done hand-in-hand with the client. It’s quite a different experience to being handed a brief, as you are helping to create the brief yourself. What kind of music would be appropriate for the brand? What does the audience listen to? What instrumentation should you use? What kind of tempo and rhythm would you use? What are the practical applications? Collate as many ideas as you can, and then start to narrow them down with your client.
Composition. This process could involve you producing multiple ideas and versions as you keep experimenting to find the right brand sound. Involve your client in this process — it’s a rewarding experience for all.
Refine. Once you have aligned on a rough draft, expect to keep refining for multiple rounds. As the decisions from the client become more concrete, you may find new stakeholders appear and have their own opinions. Be ready to rip it up and start again! Seeking good feedback is a tricky art, but it is worth being persistent as good feedback will help get you to completion much more quickly.
Roll-out. Once all parties have signed off the sonic identity, which often, in its simplest form, consists of a brand theme and a sonic logo, you can get on with mixing and mastering. Depending on the project, you’ll probably also need to create multiple adaptations, versions and edits. Make sure that everything you create is agreed in your scope of work and charge for any additional work!
Implementation. This is where most sonic brand projects fail, right at the last hurdle. If a client hasn’t prepared for implementing the sonic brand, such as communicating to their Agencies and partners how to use it, then it will very likely sit in a folder and never get used. Be prepared to create a simple user guide that the brand and their creative partners can use. Include information about the rights in the music and all registration details so the various partners can correctly credit/register the music’s use. It’s also a good idea to include your contact details so you can assist with any issues – and this could lead to additional work further down the line!
Rights! Who owns them? The discussion with your client around rights can often pop up at a rather tricky time. This is when you are at the final stages of the project and the client team realise (or are informed internally) that they must acquire all rights. The negotiation on budget that you had before the start of the project might have been for a standard exclusive synchronisation licence, determined by term, territory and media. Whilst this licence is sufficient for most brands, there are two main exceptions that regularly arise.
1) The client needs flexibility to create multiple versions in multiple territories with multiple creative partners. For global brands, the central brand/marketing team simply cannot control how or where the sonic brand will be used. Because of this, they will often request the publishing rights. The publishing rights in music are the rights that control how the music is used and distributed. This includes the mechanical rights (to allow for the reproduction of the music in physical or digital form, such as a download), the performance rights (to allow for the public performance of the music, such as on radio, tv or in a live environment), and the synchronisation rights (to allow the music to be used in audiovisual communications). Most of our members either control their own publishing, publish through a third party publisher, or manage through their own publishing entity. The publishing rights are valuable because they allow you, the copyright holder, to control how your music is used and distributed. Royalties from sonic brands can be a significant source of income for composers and music publishers if they are correctly managed. So if you decide to provide the brand with the publishing rights, then you must ensure that you exchange them for a fair price. If you are in doubt, please contact the PCAM Helpdesk for advice. We advise not surrendering your publishing rights, but in some cases this isn’t feasible or practical for the client.
2) The client has been told to obtain all rights. Everything. This case is very common, even with very well-established brands. So you may find yourself on the receiving end of a tough and sometimes intimidating legal and procurement team demanding that you surrender absolutely everything. A stern “No, I can’t legally surrender the writer’s share due to my agreement with the Performing Right Society” often stops the conversation progressing. The writer’s share is something that all composers must strongly defend as it is your right to retain this!
The writer share in PRS-registered music is 50%. This means that the composer(s) of a registered piece of music will receive 50% of the royalties that are generated from the use of that song. The other 50% of the royalties will be paid to the music publisher.
The writer share is determined by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This Act states that the copyright in a piece of music is owned jointly by the composer(s) and the music publisher. The composer(s) are the creators of the music, while the music publisher is the company that markets and distributes the music.
The 50% writer share is a standard rate that is used by most performing rights organisations (PROs). PROs are organisations that collect royalties on behalf of songwriters and composers. They then distribute these royalties to the rightful owners. While copyright split might traditionally be 50%-50%, it can actually be agreed to be any amount more in favour of the composer — i.e., 60% Composer / 40% Publisher. If you are being pushed by a client to give away publishing you can always offer an 80% Composer / 20% Publisher split, giving the rights that are required by the client but without the loss of royalty income to you.
Trying to determine exactly how the client might need to use/distribute your music will give you an indication of what rights they actually need. Acquiring all media, worldwide, in perpetuity, unlimited films and the publishing rights is very, very expensive, and almost completely pointless for a domestic brand. An exclusive licence with the right parameters included can provide all the freedom the brand needs, without the extra expense.
A composer who is signed to PRS can technically assign their writer share, but only if they have the express permission of PRS, which is very unlikely to be forthcoming. The rights are protected to protect you from exploitation. When a composer assigns their writer share, they are giving up their right to receive royalties for the use of their music. Don’t be bullied into this!
If you find you are stuck in negotiation hell and are considering assigning your writer share, it is important to talk to PCAM and to a lawyer to understand the risks involved. You should also make sure that you have a good understanding of the PRS Agreement before you sign anything.
Also, don’t be bullied into waiving your Moral Rights. These are a legal statutory right conferred by a 1988 Act and is the right to be attributed (or credited) for your work, to not have your work falsely attributed, and to not have your work treated in a derogatory way. Legally, Moral Rights cannot be sold or given away.
Administration: Register Everything!
It is important to register all versions of your music with PRS because it ensures that you will be paid when any version of your music is used in public. For example, if you have a sonic brand that is recorded in multiple versions, such as a 20” acoustic version, a 30” electronic version, and a 1’30” brand theme, you will need to register all versions with PRS in order to collect royalties for all uses of the music. If you have a publisher, they should do this for you and should also check that your works are all registered. If they aren’t, you won’t get any royalties.
PRS also recommends that you register your music on Soundmouse, which provides music reporting services to the broadcasting industry. Using Music Recognition Technology (MRT), Soundmouse monitors key TV and radio broadcasts in the UK and around the world and reports the data to PRS. Joining Soundmouse means you can upload your works so they can incorporate them into the work they do, and as a PRS member you can join Soundmouse for free and upload your music to make sure your repertoire is available to broadcasters and other collecting societies for reporting purposes. More accurate reporting for the TV and radio stations monitored should result in more accurate distributions and royalties for you.
Other organisations such as ICE (Integrated Copyright Exchange, a joint venture between PRS for Music, STIM, and GEMA) and other collecting societies also use Soundmouse, so joining should mean that your works will be easier to match both in the UK and overseas.
Always agree and sign a contract – and ideally, agree and sign the contract before you start any work. The contract outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party, and it can help to prevent unnecessary disputes. Agreeing terms before you start work will ensure that:
You protect your intellectual property. The contract should state that you, the composer, owns the copyright to the music you create for the sonic brand.
You are paid fair and in a timely manner. The contract should state the amount of money that you will be paid for your work. It should also state a very clear payment schedule, with project cancellation clauses/fees. Make sure that you don’t leave long gaps of time between payments, especially if the project stretches out over many months.
You can avoid disputes. The contract can help to prevent disputes by outlining the rights and responsibilities of each party. Be very clear, and detail the work that you have agreed to do. If there is a dispute, the contract can be used to prevent the need for lawyers.
Get legal support — and charge for it! If you receive a 90-page contract from a brand, it can be quite intimidating. Most composers are not fully-trained music and media lawyers so it’s advised to have a good relationship with a lawyer who has experience with music, advertising, and branding.
With most large brands, you will not be able to use your own agreement, as the brand will demand that you work with theirs. A lot of these agreements are standard and tend to be in place for all creative partners. As such, you’ll find you’ll have difficulties altering the section on rights (see above). This can be a bit of a headache and you may wish to consider handing the work to someone who can get the agreement sorted quickly so that it does not distract you from your creative work. It’s a very good idea to build in a legal/administration fee in every sonic brand project. This is a standard fee that all creative agencies will add, so it will not seem unexpected to your client. A mark-up on your legal costs is also advisable to cover your time.
Some clients have been known to push composers into producing soundalikes of famous songs for their sonic brand. This is because licensing a song for a sonic brand use can be incredibly expensive. However, this can lead to copyright infringement. If you are asked to produce a soundalike, seek the advice of a musicologist and ask your client to cover the cost. If the copyright holder of the original work has been approached for a licence, this is a big red flag.
Most sonic brands are created after a process of working with ‘reference music’ that has been chosen during the earlier phases on a sonic branding project. As such, it’s always recommended to have a musicologist review the work and give it a clean bill of health in terms of any similarity with the references. During the process they will also apply their encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s music to help flag any other potential issues.
If you are in any way uncomfortable with your work despite a positive musicologist’s report, PCAM advises members to either refuse to permit the use of the music or to cross out any indemnity clause before signing a contract.
If you have any questions about sonic/audio branding, please do get in contact with the PCAM Helpdesk. Many PCAM Committee members have experience in this field and will be happy to assist you. You’ll also find much more in-depth information relating to best practice, rights and agreements on the PCAM website.
PCAM FAIR REMUNERATION CAMPAIGN
Tony Satchell, Simon Elms and James Bargent from the PCAM Committee are working on a document that will be the basis for a campaign on fair remuneration for composers and ethical practice by commissioners.
Once the document is completed it will be put to the PCAM Committee and to the IPA (The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) for final approval. After that, it will be available on the PCAM website, circulated to our members and — much more importantly — circulated by the IPA to all their Advertising Agency members.
PCAM Q&As VOLUME 3 NOW AVAILABLE
In each of the last two years, an edited selection of questions sent to the PCAM Helpdesk and the answers provided by PCAM Committee member Tony Satchell have been published on the PCAM website.
Now, a new selection of Helpline Q&As from 2022 has been published here: https://www.pcam.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Heldesk-Volume-3.pdf.
Because many people often ask similar kinds of questions, perusing these questions and answers may be helpful, especially for new members.
NEW PCAM ASSISTANT
PCAM has taken on some additional administrative help by engaging Michelle Murchan, a “Virtual Assistant for Music”, to help organise PCAM events and to support efforts to find additional income streams for the Society.
Over the next few months, Michelle will be helping to organise seminars, in conjunction with the PRS, on Mental Health in the Music Industry Post-Pandemic and on how to navigate Soundmouse forms to best effect.
Michelle will also be organising a recording session where PCAM Committee members will be adding to our existing catalogue of PCAM podcasts. If you’ve never looked at the first series of nine podcasts, recorded some years ago, check them out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@pcammusic9274.
Fifth International Uuno Klami Composition Competition
The fifth International Uuno Klami Composition Competition will be held over 2023 and 2024, and compositions must be submitted to the Competition Office no later than 4 December 2023.
The Jury will consist of composer Kalevi Aho (Chairman, Finland), composer Magnus Lindberg (Finland), composer Lotta Wennäkoski (Finland), composer Mats Larsson Gothe (Sweden) and, at a later stage, a conductor member, Anna-Maria Helsing. Prizes of 7000, 9000 and 11,000 euros will be awarded to the winning compositions.
There is no age limit or entrance fee, and the competition will culminate in finals concerts at which the results will be announced and prizes awarded. These concerts will be held in Autumn 2024 in Kouvola and Kotka, Finland.
For more information, including rules in English, visit the competition website at www.klamicompetition.fi or click here: File:///C:/Users/B/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/Content.Outlook/AWL2M9L9/Press%20release_Klami%20Competition.pdf.
The competition can also be found on social media (Klami Competition).
MEMBERS LIST ON THE PCAM WEBSITE
Previously, the list of PCAM members and access to members’ profiles on the PCAM website has only been available to those who were able to log in to the Members Section on the site.
This is now being changed, as we felt that members could benefit from more visibility.
The change means that minimal information on PCAM members – company name, website address and social media addresses – will soon be visible to anyone who visits the website. However, the majority of the information on your profile page can still only be accessed by those able to log in to the Members Section.
We would urge all PCAM members to complete as many of the fields in their profile as possible so that the profile presents a complete picture of who you are and the services you can offer.
Professional Indemnity Insurance for PCAM members
When PCAM first negotiated a deal with Performance Insurance for affordable professional indemnity insurance for PCAM members, part of the arrangement was that a PCAM Landing Page would be created on the Performance Insurance website.
Because of a shake-up in the Performance Insurance marketing team, the creation of this Landing Page has been delayed, but work has now begun and it should be in place shortly.
NOTES FROM THE PCAM COMMITTEE MEETING: 21 FEBRUARY 2023
The PCAM Committee held its first meeting of 2023 as a remote meeting on 21 February.
The following Committee members attended the meeting: Paul Reynolds, Chris Smith, Tony Satchell, Simon Elms, Bankey Ojo, George Hyde, James Bargent and Bob Fromer.
Here is a rundown of some of the main topics discussed:
State of the industry. The meeting began with an extended discussion about what PCAM Chair Paul Reynolds called “the decimation of the value of work”, with rates for music steadily going down and with Agencies increasingly going for library music over bespoke commissions.
There were various opinions about when and why this has happened, with the advent of digital and now AI being prime suspects, accelerated by changes to the industry brought about by the pandemic, with many experienced Agency producers losing their jobs and their junior successors clearly feeling that library music is a safer and cheaper bet.
“We are talking about protecting fees for bespoke music,” Paul said, “but the market is going in a different direction.”
Simon Elms felt that we have to add more value to what we do. “You have to find a niche,” he said, “and be like a master craftsman. It has to be about skill and expertise, not just digitalisation.”
A consensus then developed around the idea that a day rate or hourly rate for the expertise our members bring might be easier to justify, since so many professions are paid that way, and that we need to get the IPA to accept this concept and pass that understanding on to Agencies — especially to support composers new to the industry who lack the confidence that their work is worth the rates they should be charging.
PCAM budget for 2023. The proposed PCAM budget for 2023, which projects a loss of around £3,000 for the year, was approved by the Committee. The main driver for the deficit is money projected to be spent on the Education Project, but it now looks like at least some of this will be used to pay a PCAM Assistant (see above). Ideally, PCAM wants to break even or have a small loss to avoid corporation tax.
Reserves in the bank at the beginning of 2023 were close to £30,000, so there is definitely money to spend and no immediate need to raise membership fees – which have been static for many years — despite inflation.
PCAM Guidelines. Recommendations on audio branding in the PCAM website Guidelines are to be reviewed, along with website recommendations for social media and streaming.
PCAM Committee meeting dates in 2023
Remaining PCAM Committee meetings in 2023 will be held on the following dates from 4.00-6.00 pm and are currently planned to be held in person.
- Tuesday 18 April
- Tuesday 13 June
- Tuesday 12 September
- Tuesday 14 November
Any PCAM member interested in attending any of these meetings should contact PCAM Administrator Bob Fromer (email@example.com).
PCAM HELPDESK Q&A
Here is a recent question and answer exchange from the PCAM Helpdesk (the question is in black type and the Helpdesk answer is in blue):
Q: I’m a new PCAM member and a full-time student. I am currently undertaking my first advertising music commission and would love some advice regarding pricing and contracts.
The job is to create a 90-second electronic/house track. The client is a very big high street retail conglomerate and the video is for online use only — I think it’s to show to shareholders. I’m nearly finished with the job and they really like what I’ve done so far.
I’m not exactly sure about territories or how long the ad/video will be in use. The fee I asked is £750, which will hopefully be approved by the client – they will be paying, not the ad agency.
What do you think about this fee? For me, it felt a comfortable first job price (although I’m aware the clients are by no means short of budget) and hopefully can lead to further jobs. I didn’t want to deter them with a ridiculous fee.
Are there any contracts I should be asking them to sign? If they end up using this track again in the future, I would of course like to get paid.
I will really appreciate any advice you can provide, as I’m new to all of this.
A: That fee is very low, even for a student, and should be between £3,000 and £10,000. And don’t get sucked into the false idea that doing a cheap job for a client will lead to more work. A classy and appropriate track is what will lead to more work!
Although you should only charge what you feel comfortable with, talent needs to be paid for and composers should not be expected to live in a squat on bread and water in this day and age!
I think you would benefit from reading and digesting this article on the PCAM website on budgeting: https://www.pcam.co.uk/advertising/advertising-how-to-budget-2/).
It is very important to establish the Media (where the track is being played out), the Territory (which countries it is being played out in) and the Term (number of months or years the Licence is for — the PCAM standard Licence Term is One Year — before allowing the track to be aired. You should really establish this before a note is written.
It is also extremely important for the Client to sign a contract (downloadable from the PCAM website) properly establishing on what basis the track is being licensed (never ever “In Perpetuity”!) before you agree to a broadcast. It also means that if (for whatever reason) you’ve agreed to a low initial fee you can at least put an uplift in the Contract should the Client want to re-use it after the agreed initial Term or want to use it in other Media or Territories not initially specified in the Contract.
I hope this helps!