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Topline-Music Library

TOPLINE is live and ready to use.

Here are a few thoughts that got me to creating Topline Music and a selection of  relevant and irreverent mind ramblings.

Part 1
Many years ago, I decided to investigate the possibility of starting a new music library. I had been quite successful in receiving royalties from various established libraries in the past: Bruton, ATV, Zomba, Atmosphere, Connect, etc. So I started building what would have been an interface to market my music as a library. It was called Tellytoons. Sadly the technology wasn’t really available for streaming or downloading at that time so I shelved the idea.

Part 2
Ten years later I picked this up again. This time I started discussing the possibilities with other composers and quickly discovered that it would take a considerable amount of funding, not only to build but to start a new publishing company. At this time, the only option available to me. Knowing what I do know about Publishers, I certainly didn’t want to be one.

Part 3
Now, with streaming, uploading and downloading faster and common place and being in a position to develop this idea without the financial restrictions, I decided to work on starting a brand new model. A music library that didn’t involve publishing in the established way and to offer a service and resource that would not only exploit my extensive catalogue of new works and archives, but develop a way to encourage and introduce new composers into a place where they could potentially earn something by selling and licensing their music.

Library music traditionally has been a place where most composers would go when there’s some time between jobs, things are a little thin on the ground and a place to exploit existing archive material. It was also seen as something ‘second rate’ against the full commissioned music activities. Things have certainly changed there.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there is still a very healthy return on material written up to 40 years ago!
I was also aware that I had many hours of music simply sitting on a shelf in the studio doing absolutely nothing, earning nothing and groaning within redundant and forgotten tapes.
A couple of Year’s ago, I was approached by a new music library to submit some ideas. I did as requested and was ‘fortunate’ to have a small percentage of these tracks taken by the library. Despite feeling somewhat patronised by the approach that suggested I was ‘lucky’ to have some of my music accepted, I was still obliged to sign the usual publishing agreement which gave them, the publishers, 50% of my works (known as the publisher’s share?) so that I could retain my writer’s share of the remaining 50%. But with no real obligation to exploit my music I felt that they had the better deal with my music.
I have always found this archaic and outdated agreement stupid. It’s still a lottery and submitting music to any library does not in any way guarantee any returns.
So despite having had some success in the past, I have been aware that quite a large chunk of my music still remains with established libraries, buried, unknown, undiscovered and waiting for a random search, which, if successful, would result in the publishing company taking a whopping 50% for something they probably didn’t exploit or market, or even know they had.
So I thought at this time, I would rather take the risk and exploit my own catalogue, knowing I had 100% of the copyright, so that, if successful, I could increase my returns and decrease the risks.
The advantages are simple:
First, this would present a music showreel. An example or works written, some original and some already placed.
Second, to present a music resource that would enable royalties to be earned by selling licences for media placement: TV, Radio, Advertising, Film.
Third, to use this platform for new composers and writers, who haven’t had the opportunity to present their catalogue and who would benefit from the mutually exciting network of having a shared and open music ‘shop front’ to advertise and display their original works.
I believe in the the future of music. Since streaming and the general pillage of music royalties, it is now impossible to be a songwriter that will earn you anything significant.
I believe that there are still good royalties to be paid from media usage like TV, Film, Radio, Advertising, and other Media output.
While existing media develops, I believe that there is an ever increasing need for music, soundtracks, songs, jingles, incidental music. All of this is something that can generate income.
I wanted to develop an idea that offers the control back to the copyright owners.
I do not think that publishers should have an exclusive right simply to own and manage media music and production library music. I think that this idea is one that could offer a new hope and future to musicians and composers.
During this process, we decided to approach the PRS / MCPS to see if there was any chance of working together. The current arrangement is that you can’t license your music through a production music library unless you become a publisher. Their rules and regulations, drawn up many years ago, still remain inflexible, unchangeable and controlled by the publishers and the societies.
I wanted to see if we could create a new model with them to establish what would hopefully be known as: ‘ The Single Writer Library Member ‘ (catchy eh?)
For roughly eighteen months we discussed, negotiated,  trying to find a way forward, only to be told it wasn’t possible with the existing structures. Go it alone or become a publisher were the only two options. It has become clear that even those working within the great royalty societies don’t really understand how it all works, and certainly don’t want to address the real needs and requests of their members, some of whom, like me,  have been members for many years.
So at the time just prior to launching TOPLINE, we decided to go it alone, with a vague and paper thin assurance that something would change in the near future, and that maybe, we could realise The Single Writer Library Member status.
Clearly this would be a great way forward and allow legitimately composers and writers to license their music directly to the Licensee, and have MCPS look after the licensing and fees on their behalf. When this happens, we would hopefully be the first to achieve this, so watch this space and we’ll obviously broadcast it far and wide. But for now, were going it alone and licensing directly from Topline.
More specific details on TOPLINE can be found here including all of our FAQ and Under The Hood legal stuff. Please take a look; If you’re a Creative then we’d love too hear from you and listen to your catalogue. If your a Licensee, then please browse and license some of our original and exciting tracks.

 

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