Basic Cable Royalties?

Discussion in 'Working in the Industry' started by Bropecia, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

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    Hi all, general rumination here. Wondering if anyone has the skinny on the compensation range between basic cable/premium cable & network distributions for cues? Is it drastic? I'm coming to a close on my first basic cable show, and since I served as both the composer and music editor, part of my job has been submitting the cue sheets. Since it's my first gig, I'm happy to be doing that in part, for the obvious vested interest, the royalties themselves, and also so I can get a first hand education on the cue sheet process etc..

    Has anyone out there done both basic cable and premium jobs? I was assuming I'd not make much in royalties, but then a producer friend of mine pointed out that since the network I'm on re-runs their shows quite regularly through the week, I'd stand a chance to make a bit of coin.

    Anyway, hope the question doesn't sound crass - asking about the $$ - It's just that I made very little on the actual show, and wondering what I might expect. On average I wrote about 30 cues per show, and it was a 10 episode season. So I'd say about 7-8 minutes of music per 25 minute episode. Are we talking - taking the family on a vacation money, or taking the family to In-n-Out one more time a month money?

    Animal style burgers to the first five responders.

    Thanks,

    Bropecia
     
  2. chillbot

    chillbot Sock Muppet

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    Varies greatly between channels, some are quite good some are pennies (or nothing!). What is the network?
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

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  4. chillbot

    chillbot Sock Muppet

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    Hm. I don't want to get your hopes up or disappoint you. I have had a bunch of music on TruTV so I thought I'd be able to tell you a rate for BMI but I actually can't figure it out. My rates jump around (even on the same statement) from a low-end of about $1.20/minute up to a high-end of about $8.75/minute. I looked back through 5 or 6 years and it was all the same. That's a huge range and swing.

    I would say fairly average rate for basic cable is $5/minute but like I said previously some channels are only pennies and others like MTV, TNT, TBS, etc pay much better even upwards of $25/minute.

    At first I thought it was the difference between first-airs and reruns but I looked up these episodes and they are all reruns. So all I can think is they pay more for prime time airings than late-night airings. I thought that cable had gone away from paying more for prime time (network still does) but I may have been mistaken, or... this is an industry that is constantly changing and no one ever tells you about the changes. It's a constant puzzle.

    Maybe someone else can shed some light on it.

    Anyway here is an example track I had on TruTV that paid $23:

    trutv.png

    So you can see that I am getting 50% of the writer's and it was (roughly) a 1/2 minute cue, and that it aired 11x that quarter. So $23.70 x 2 x 2 = $94.80 / 11 = $8.62/minute.

    That might equate to $700 or so if you have 8 minutes per episode x 10 episodes. Then you see how important reruns become. If each episode airs 10x now we get to move the decimal over one which is a good thing to do.

    But if it's airing late-night and you're getting that $1.20 rate that would be a bummer, a whole season might only be $100. ($1,000 if it airs 10x.)

    And no I don't consider it crass to talk about the $$ it's important to have some idea of it.
     
  5. Creston

    Creston Active Member

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    As someone in the UK signed to a few US libraries, I get US royalties through PRS. They do seem all over the place. I had something on Judge Judy and it was $1,300 (doesn't tell me how many performances on my statement). And having adverts across different channels/networks, I saw anything from $0.01 to $85 a min.

    What about ABC, ABC Family, My9? And what about Univison? I've had tracks absolutely hammered on Univision promos.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  6. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

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    Awesome I appreciate this. Cheese or no cheese? Fries?
     
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  7. Fitz

    Fitz Member

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    I write for a cable show and the royalties have been substantial. Lots of reruns? Then you’re in luck.

    Of course it can vary but if it’s playing and you have the writers share of all the music, you may be making tens of thousands a quarter.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

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    Los Angeles
    Judge Judy! Generous gal.
    Y
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

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    Jul 12, 2018
    Los Angeles
    Yeah something tells me there’ll be a difference between basic cable and premium, but it’s fun to fantasize. I searched ascap for a formula but what I found on their site was pretty murky. They should publish exactly what it should be, or have some kind of programmed input mechanism so you can adjust for what network, what time of day, length of cue, etc and look up exactly what it will be. Seems purposefully fuzzy. I’m sure this has been debated a ton here and elsewhere.
     
  10. givemenoughrope

    givemenoughrope Senior Member

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    @chillbot
    I love Impractical Jokers. Seriously crack me up!!
     
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  11. NoamL

    NoamL Winter <3

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    Hey dude, no insight to offer but congrats on getting to the end of Season 1! Hope the show's a hit.
     
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  12. OP
    OP
    Bropecia

    Bropecia guy

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    Thanks Noam! Your help really made a huge difference.
     
  13. chillbot

    chillbot Sock Muppet

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    Never seen it!

    Correct, it is purposefully fuzzy. The main reason for this is that in the United States, people are constantly comparing ASCAP rates to BMI rates (and now SESAC as well) because they want top dollar. Which is a huge pain in the ass for ASCAP and BMI, and would be made much worse if they attempted to post actual rates. But more importantly the rates change per-PRO, per-quarter. So they could say hey we paid $8/minute for Discovery last quarter, and then you get your statement for next quarter and it's only $4/minute. That's just how it goes.

    Side note: the balance between ASCAP and BMI is even, they pay the same. You're not going to get more money from one or the other. Well, you might, one quarter, but then the next quarter you might not, it balances out. You are correct again, this has been discussed much here if you search for it. There are other intangible differences, such as I find the BMI statements to be much more straightforward and less mysterious than ASCAP statements.

    The only exception might be if you had a fair amount of music on ONLY one specific channel that one PRO was currently paying more for. Though even in this case it might not be worth it, they only have $X amount of dollars to distribute per network. For example: let's say BMI was paying $100/minute for FOX and ASCAP was paying $175/minute (huge difference). You had significant amount of music on a huge amount of primetime shows. So obviously it makes sense to switch to ASCAP. But after the switch now BMI has so much more money to distribute, their rates jump up to $150/minute and ASCAP drops down to $125/minute. (This happened.)

    I have thought a ton about making a spreadsheet or resource listing various rates per channels, I think it would be super useful. However, 1) the rates are always changing, 2) I only have the BMI side of it, I'd need to find some ASCAP composers to pitch in with info and it could be a bit of work keeping it updated, and 3) I guess this post has confused me about rates... I thought I had it figured out, most networks seem pretty straightforward, but I can't figure out the difference in the TruTV rates. I guess I could call them and find out, but anyway it's becoming a bigger task than just calculating one rate per every channel. And then there's netflix, hulu, microsoft, amazon, youtube, ugh....
     
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