Hello composers and producers. Some of you may know me as an author of the AJ Community Guide. Some of you met me on Meetups which I hosted or visited. I try to be useful for the Community I belong to. I think it’s ok to share thoughts and experience, not only to take profit and complain.
Why am I writing about it? Because I want to discuss our future, which may be controversial for some of you. And to prove that I am not a typical complainer who only cares for his earnings. Let’s put the cat among the pigeons. Let’s talk about the broadcast use in Elements. If you are an author who has not been invited to Elements yet, please read it, especially point 13 because it applies to you too.
Few years ago Envato added audio to Envato Elements (EE). What did the authors say? We all have started to shout that broadcast use has to be removed from Elements (EE). Yep, me too. We were happy when Envato finally removed it. But now I think we should allow the broadcast use in EE. Why? Let’s think about it:
- Sync licensing goes down. The golden era for stock authors has ended.
- Authors will agree for the low earnings because we are not efficiently united INSIDE our online services (stock/publishers/streaming services etc.). Such services exploit authors and will exploit even more.
- Only Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) and international copyright can protect us. This institution unites composers OUTSIDE their online services.
- Monetization and royalties outside the Envato are growing.
- PRO royalties are growing. If we do not allow broadcast use in EE, we will not get these royalties.
- PRO royalties will be HUGE. I mean, REALLY HUGE. This will compensate the lower income from AudioJungle.
- The PRO reporting of stock music isn’t perfect at this moment. But now it is improving and will be way more efficient in the next years. PROs will help “online” composers just as they helped “traditional” ones in the past. In some musical branches PRO royalties are bigger than direct sales.
- We should stick with the branches of the music industry which generate the biggest royalties collected by PROs. Why? Because PROs are the only institutions which will compensate the fall of the stock earnings and execute the copyright. The biggest royalties are in the TV / cinema / radio, especially in the broadcasted commercials.
- Sooner or later some other stock will offer a huge portfolio with broadcast use. And steal our clients. (Uh… this already happenned…)
- Specializing only in the music delivered to online media is a bad idea.
- Adding a broadcast use to EE will simplify the licensing. Lack of the broadcast use limits the potential of the whole EE. Let’s increase valuable demand response.
- Broadcast increases the popularity of a track.
- The biggest problem is with the authors who have not been invited to EE yet. Adding broadcast use to EE will temporarily decrease income from AJ.
- Many clients already use EE tracks in the broadcasts.
- Envato doesn’t help in reporting cue sheets but we can convince the staff that tiny simple changes can make a difference.
1. Sync licensing goes down. The golden era for stock authors has ended.
When online stocks like AudioJungle were introduced, the music industry looked totally different. Cheap online stock turned out to be a huge niche for the growing number of online content creators. This is why AJ was so successful and this is why authors earned so much money in that time. Was it because our music was so exceptional? No. It was because Envato was a strong company without strong competition in a huge niche.
Now, in 2023 everything looks different. Market is full of stocks focused on cheap mass sales or specialized in specific genres, moods and purposes. There are countless old and new publishers who introduced online services too. Clients move from a traditional licensing to subscription model. What does it mean for us? It means that big stocks and publishers (like Envato) fight for mass clients. Their main weapons are:
a) lowering price
b) simplifying licensing process
c) creating huge and versatile database
As an effect, the price for the single license goes down. And guess who’s gonna lose money? Of course authors, because authors only create music, without taking part in managing the online stocks.
It is happening in the whole audio-video industry. Netflix, Spotify, Splice…
2. Authors will agree for the low earnings because we are not efficiently united INSIDE our online services (stock/publishers/streaming services etc.). Such services exploit authors and will exploit even more.
Individually we can do nothing. And there are always authors willing to upload music to online services even though earnings are very low. Especially:
a) authors from countries with a low cost of living - in such countries prices are low so even small earnings can cover their needs.
b) the beginners - they treat it as an experiment, starting point or a chance to find a wider public. They usually have a financial stability outside the music or low needs so they do not care for a good and stable earnings
c) authors who don’t care too much / don’t speak English very good - they simply register in various online services and agree to everything hoping that their music “somehow” will become popular or generate extra cash. It costs them nothing. This is the phenomenon of music databases on TikTok, Instagram and Youtube Shorts which are full of free-to-use music which can be added there by… uploading music to streaming services via aggregators or CID partners using default settings.
I am not saying that uploading music to such services is bad. I am saying that it is a tendency we cannot stop. We can try to delay the process but we can’t stop it.
3. Only Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) and international copyright can protect us. This institution unites composers OUTSIDE their online services.
Online services (including stocks!) will exploit authors more and more. Fortunately PROs are big enough to fight with the exploitation by:
a) keeping up the pressure on the online services to execute copyright
b) keeping up the pressure on the lawmakers to modify the copyright
c) compensate exploitation and lack of balance by collecting and paying royalties directly to authors
PROs can’t control prices set by stocks or publishers because we have a free market. However they can balance the industry by collecting the royalties from the income generated by such services. They can also keep up the pressure on the fields where illegal use of music is huge. Do you remember the time when you could upload any Hans Zimmer or Britney Spears track on your channel without any consequences? Even though Youtube introduced its own CID system, it is still an effect of the copyright execution.
Currently PROs have a relatively low efficiency in collecting “stock-related royalties” and negotiating satisfying royalties rates with online services. But believe me, many actions have been taken in the past. This is why…
4. …Monetization and royalties outside the Envato are growing.
PROs and copyright work slowly but consistently. Examples of the current direct and indirect effects important for AJ/EE authors:
a) Youtube CID monetization:
This is a great example of successful execution of the copyright against illegal use of music. AJ / EE portfolio can earn $$$$ or even $$$$$ (!) per month from monetization these days (do you remember when I started to convince you to register with CID and move from AdRev to Identifyy?)
b) PRO royalties:
Even though the reporting isn’t perfect, royalties are rapidly increasing. Big AJ / EE portfolio usually earns something like $$$$ or $$$$$ per year and is still growing. The PROs efficiency increases year after year BUT at the same time AudioJungle dies and we sell less broadcast licenses
c) CID royalties collected by PROs:
Besides the monetization, PROs collect other small royalties. Usually $$ or $$$ per month but it is still growing, it should be bigger with every next contract signed between PROs and Youtube, Spotify etc.
d) CID on Facebook, Instagram:
still very small but it should be bigger in the near future
e) wide use of Soundmouse reporting system which highly increases royalties tracking. PROs start to use automatic audio fingerprinting technology which is a game changer for stock composers
f) growing royalties from Spotify and other streaming services
g) famous ACTA in the European Union which will highly increase efficiency of the copyright execution in the EU
h) creating international online composers and works databases and institutions like the MLC which (they collected almost $1 billion, only in mechanical royalties in something like two years), Songtrust, NRG etc. which can help in collecting international royalties.
You think that’s not enough? I agree, that’s not enough now. But let’s think long-term.
5. PRO royalties are growing. If we do not allow broadcast use in EE, we will not get these royalties.
We earn some cash from broadcast sales on AudioJungle. But AudioJungle is dying and we will sell less and less in the next years. How many years are left before earnings will not be sufficient even for the most of top sellers? Two? Three? We lose our broadcast clients now with no compensation in EE. In other words we currently lose our future royalties.
6. PRO royalties will be HUGE. I mean, REALLY HUGE. This will compensate the lower income from AudioJungle.
Just imagine that our tracks are widely used in TV commercials. Like I said, one commercial can generate from 1000$ to 50000$. Unfortunately now our tracks are used in TV commercials VERY RARELY, because AJ licenses are tricky and EE doesn’t allow it.
AudioJungle give me royalties from a few bigger TV commercials per year. I expect that Elements with broadcast use could result in few commercials per month!
7. The PRO reporting of stock music isn’t perfect at this moment. But it is improving and will be way more efficient in the next years. PROs will help “online” composers just as they helped “traditional” ones in the past. In some musical branches PRO royalties are bigger than direct sales.
Actually a similar problem was in the TV, radio and film industry many years ago. How did it end? Now there are branches of the music industry in which composers create music for free (!), fight for placing their tracks in tv/cinema/radio and earn decent money only from PRO royalties (usually split in half with the publisher(!) ). Just think of publishers who cover TV series or… popular song makers.
8. We should stick with the branches of the music industry which generate the biggest royalties collected by PROs. Why? Because PROs are the only institutions which will compensate the fall of the stock earnings and execute the copyright. The biggest royalties are in the TV / cinema / radio, especially in the broadcasted commercials.
We have great tracks for this already. Why can’t we use them?
9. Sooner or later some other stock will offer a huge portfolio with broadcast use. And steal our clients.
Envato audio should stick with the TV / Cinema / Radio before some other big stock offers a cheap subscription model with big and versatile database with simple license allowing broadcast use.
Oh, wait, didn’t P###5 did it a few months ago? Not mentioning many other smaller services. Not mentioning publishers. Envato is very strong now. We can win the battle and take a huge part of the broadcast pie which generates huge royalties AND is under the good old PRO protection.
10. Specializing only in music delivered to online media is a bad idea.
Like I said, it is a bad idea because:
a) sync licensing prices are falling down
b) tv/cinema/radio PRO royalties are growing
c) internet-related royalties are dynamically growing but it will take many years until they reach stable long-term level
d) in the future the biggest online services which allow to create and post audio-video content will have their own decent and free databases (e.g. Youtube, Canva, Adobe, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others have it already). This means that regular content creators will prefere to use a free in-the-box quickly and automatically adjusted content in their services instead of buying tracks in the 3rd party servies. In other words there will be a crazy number of free tracks to use in the online media in the near future. Specializing only in the online music use is a dead end imho.
Maybe it is a good idea for small players. Not for authors from Envato.
11. Adding a broadcast use to EE will simplify the licensing. Lack of the broadcast use limits the potential of the whole EE. Let’s increase valuable demand response.
Let’s see the behavior of the typical stock/publisher audio clients:
a) individual small online content creators: vloggers, podcasters, amateurs posting slideshows with their cats etc. They are happy with the EE license because they create online stuff. They are a huge group, they create low/standard quality content.
b) small audio-video freelancers creating cheap video commercials, promos, trailers, presentations etc. They usually create online stuff but regularly need a broadcast license. So again they download track on EE, then buy the license on AJ or… go to other stock or… don’t care and use the track without license. If they buy a broadcast license on AJ, they are frustrated by the vague license rules, removed items, tricky variation policy, price changes or again… they don’t care and use your track often with the wrong broadcast license. Afterwards they transfer the license to their client and wish that he will not have any problems with the license for the music track they have chosen. They are a medium group, they create a low/standard/good quality content.
Sooner or later they will definitely move to other cheap and big stock with simpler licensing including broadcast, just to avoid problems. Many of them have already moved. I have many friends in the audio-video industry. They have been using AudioJungle and audio from Elements for years. None of them use it anymore.
c) big audio-video freelancers and media agencies: they are a small group with big wallets creating good-great content. Some of their campaigns are broadcast via different media, tv, cinema, live, in toys etc. They already moved to other stocks because they treat license rules seriously. They simply can’t afford that their client will face any problems with licenses, variations, audience size, live performance, removed items etc. They are used to buying expensive tracks but they need a wide and simple license.
d) movie and video game industry, VOD streaming services like HBO, Netflix, Discovery: they traditionally use other publishers and stocks because… they need a wide and simple license…
If we add broadcast use to EE, professionals will return to us. So let’s increase valuable demand response. If we don’t do it, we will stick with small content creators and their cat slideshows and Call of Duty gameplays forever. Inspiring, right?
Keep in mind that this is the poorest target possible. They do not need the best quality, they need a low price. So again, guess who will suffer when prices go down?
Worth to mention that there is an EE Enterprise and “team” program for bigger companies already. If the company is big, it has to pay a higher price for the subscription.
12. Broadcast increases the popularity of a track.
…so we could expect even higher earnings from monetization, streaming services etc, license buyouts etc.
Just imagine that your track, which is placed in a popular movie, becomes viral. Just imagine your earnings from the monetization.
13. The biggest problem is with the authors who have not been invited to EE yet. Adding broadcast use to EE will temporarily decrease income from AJ.
But there are few things to keep in mind. If you haven’t been invited to EE yet:
a) you will be invited sooner or later
b) when you will be invited, you probably prefer to be in the strong stock which generates way bigger earnings and royalties than AJ. Without mentioned changes, EE audio will be a second category stock imho
c) AudioJungle sooner or later will die
d) broadcast use in EE will increase the number of clients. More clients on EE = more invited authors on EE in the near future
14. Many clients already use EE tracks in the broadcasts.
They simply don’t care. Just check how many already collected royalties in your PRO indicates “Audio Jungle” or “Elements” as an author.
15. Envato doesn’t help in reporting cue sheets.
But we could ask Envato to change it. When a client downloads a track from EE, he has to fill the field in the window asking what is the name of his project. Imagine that there is a simple “broadcast” checkbox which can display PRO data (from the item details “writer” and “composer” fields) of the track. And imagine that after checking it, the client could receive a short email reminder about including correct PRO data to his cue sheet. Yep, I know it will be hard to execute it from Envato, but If you don’t take risks, you don’t drink champagne.
So let’s discuss. What is your opinion about adding broadcast use to EE?