Answered by Michael Laskow, CEO, TAXI
I've been spending lots of time with the "Achieving Success With Your Music" DVD. Brilliant! You mentioned something about the difference between cable and broadcast television payments, saying you would get to it later in the presentation, but I don't believe you ever did. Any chance you can address this in one of your newsletters?

— Thanks,

Larry Folk

Hi Larry,

Thanks for letting me know how much you enjoyed the DVD. We've had tons of positive response from it.

Here's a free clip on YouTube:

I'm guessing the part about the payment difference between cable and networks ended up on the editing room floor, so I'll fill in the blank for you here.

It's really quite simple. Cable pays much less than the major networks, and the main reason for that is simply audience size.

It's common for a big network hit to have viewership that ranges in the millions. I'm guessing that a hit show on NBC, ABC, or CBS might have 20,000,000 viewers on a good night.

By comparison, an episode of "Design on a Dime" running on HGTV, late at night, might draw an audience of hundreds of thousands—maybe a million viewers.

Less viewers, less money to the composer.

The performance rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) in the U.S. have formulas to calculate what the composer gets paid per airing, and frankly, try as I might to understand them, it's still voodoo economics to me. I know some really SMART people who don't understand how they determine what you get paid either ;-)

The bottom line is that you might get paid under a hundred bucks for a track on cable, and that same track might net you a thousand or more on a network. But there's much more to it!

The bottom line is that you might get paid under a hundred bucks for a track on cable, and that same track might net you a thousand or more on a network. But there's much more to it!

If the song is a "featured" song (meaning that it's central to the scene and with no dialog over it), you'll get much more for that than an instrumental track that is in the background of a cable show.

There are other considerations that go in to the "formula," such as the length of time the song is used, whether or not the airing is on a local station or an entire national network, and so forth. There are several great books on the subject, and one of the most popular is Music, Money, and Success by Todd and Jeff Brabec. You can buy it from our bookstore. It's the 10th book down the list on this page.

I can tell you that I've seen (total, including sync fees, if applicable and performance money) payments for as little as 43 cents for a cable placement, and as much as $2,000 for a network hit, but as I said, there are several factors that go in to determining what you get paid.

Even though cable payments pay much less, the shows often repeat several times a day, and those repeats can really add up.

The rule of thumb for people who do lots of film and TV work is that go for every placement you can. It's a "penny" business, but those pennies can really add up if you've got lots of songs placed with several publishers, and they are each getting you numerous placements.

It's all about volume ultimately. And once you've built up a nice catalog that's spread out over several publishers, you will see income from that stream in for many years to come.

As TAXI member Matt Hirt has often been heard to say, "Having a hit song is like winning the lottery. Building a catalog of film and TV material is more like an investment portfolio that pays well over the long term."

Here's a link to a GREAT video that features Matt talking about his first-hand experiences in film and TV music. All seven segments total out to about 43 minutes in viewing time, and it will be the best three-quarters of an hour you can spend if you're thinking about doing music for film and TV.

Here's the link:

If you want to get a feel for how many people are following Matt's advice and using TAXI to get LOTS of film and TV deals, then take a quick glance at this page! BTW, many of the people who've landed film and TV placements through TAXI, actually put links to the tracks that have nailed the deals in their Forum posts. You might enjoy listening to some of these tracks to get a feel for what works.

— Michael

From the TAXI Forum

I saw a car yesterday that made me think of songs and demos.

The car obviously had a lot of time and effort put into it. The bodywork done on it was extensive with fender flares, hood scoops, a front spoiler and huge rear wing. On top of that, it had a professional paint job with about 10 coats of beautiful black metallic paint. It was the kind of custom paint that costs thousands of dollars. However, there was a problem.

The problem wasn't the paint. It was the bodywork underneath the paint. That beautiful paint job revealed every imperfection on the surface and it looked pretty bad. I felt sorry for the guy who had apparently done all the bodywork himself, then stood back, looked it over, and thought it was pretty good. "Sure, there are a few things I could have done better," he probably thought to himself, "but when it's painted, it'll look awesome!"

So he laid out his hard-earned cash and got a professional paint job.

The paint didn't fix the imperfections; it only made them more apparent by contrast. A lot of work went into that car, but it wasn't ready for paint. He should have gotten a second opinion. He should have asked for help from other skilled, knowledgeable professionals to get the car really ready to paint and then it would have been amazing, but he lost perspective, rushed it, and thought it was good enough.

You probably already know where I'm going with this, but I'll say it anyway. Don't waste money on demos when your songs aren't ready. No industry professionals will be fooled by a professional recording of a pretty good song.

Between reviewers and your own honest opinion (if you've gotten enough professional feedback on other songs in the past) you'll know when a song is ready to demo. Then go for it, but not before then. Don't fool yourself. It's a waste of hard-earned money. Listen to TAXI reviewers and improve your songs before you demo them. Good enough isn't good enough.

— Rayzer

Amen! I've been begging our members to use our A&R staff for MORE than just getting forwarded and getting deals for many, many years. Use the A&R staff to find out which songs are best, and how to make them great BEFORE you spend money on expensive demos or putting them on a CD and noticing the places you could have improved them AFTER the CDs are done. Amen, amen, amen!

— Thanks for saying it so eloquently!


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