From time to time our clients are approached by PROs (Performance Royalty Organisations) and asked to pay royalties for using our music in their phone system.
This usually comes as a shock as they are often using royalty-free music to save money on royalties. The problem arises because many independent composers put their music in PROs so that they may get additional income if their music is used on TV or Radio.
When the PRO contacts the company they will likely ask for the name of the music track(s) and composer. They will then search this in their database and if there is a match they will insist that the company pay an annual license fee.
Here is the problem…
- Independent composers will likely never see any revenue from music on hold royalties as the collected fees are put into a pot and divided up based on statistics which inevitably favour mainstream artists.
- The company that bought the music will likely want a refund from the music library which means the independent composer loses out.
What happens in the real world…
Most independent composers want their music to be used by companies and are prepared to waive the performance royalties for on-hold usage. This means the composer receives their one-time fee for the royalty-free music license and the user gets a good deal.
Some libraries/composers rename tracks so that they can’t be found in any PRO database.
The fact is, most independent composers earn more money from one-time fees via royalty-free music libraries and do not want to risk losing out. Some of them are aware of the possible complications and do not join a PRO. However, the majority of them can’t resist the possibility that their music could get used on a primetime TV or Radio show and do not want to risk losing big royalties in this eventuality.
Confusion and ambiguity can occur, however, I always see it like this, royalty-free music libraries generate income for independent composers and although a PRO’s intervention can cause stress and confusion they too are only acting in the interests of composers.
In all of the cases that I have been aware of or involved with the PRO has looked at the situation realistically. In my experience, they have never obstructed independent composers from earning a direct income and end up leaving the royalty-free music library to remunerate them. Obviously, if you are using mainstream music by a big-name artist it is a completely different matter and you should get your credit card out 🙂
As all royalty free music libraries’ terms differ it can be hard to judge sometimes. To clarify, we are happy for our royalty free music to be used on hold for a one-time payment. Our composers are happy with this too.
Did you know?…
We also have an on-hold messaging service providing on-hold voiceovers and music.
If you are just looking for music, browse our royalty-free music library.