Almost a year ago, I joined a Tunesat – an audio fingerprinting company that tracks your music usage on TV channels across more than 110 US channels, and more than 65 European channels in the UK, Germany, France and Italy. I was interested in trying out Tunesat as, like all composers who write library music in particular, I was curious where my music was being used on TV.
Their service is sounds impressive on first glance and they pride themselves on their ability to “identify music so buried under sound effects as to be barely audible, and to gather full durational information as well. With that capability, we offer quite a technology to our clients. And we can do it with durations down to 3 seconds”. Quite a bold statement, and it had me excited from the outset to see if they could back up their claims.
Joining TuneSat was a very simple process – I contacted them directly via their website, and Melissa advised me of their different packages they have on offer. They can track your music in only the US, only Europe, only the UK, only Italy etc. or all the territories currently available. They also have a pricing structure based on the amount of cues you would like to track. The pricing structure includes a small yearly payment as well as a “finger printing” fee each time you send them cues to be added to your account.
Once I had decided on which package to go for, I signed the contract, was sent a metadata spreadsheet to fill out and given ftp details to upload my tracks – you can also send cues via post on dvd/hard-drive if that suits better. Once uploaded, my tracks were all “fingerprinted” and put into my online account, allowing me to track their usage each day. It was a very simple process overall, and the packages offered were very fair. On a side note – I chose to pay monthly via paypal, but they have other payment options available also.
A Few Months In
I’ve now been with Tunesat for a couple of months – almost a year I think now – and can shed a little light on my experiences so far. First off, as a music library composer, I have a very small amount of cues in comparison to most – only around 70 as I’m still in the very early stages of my career. Because of this, I obviously don’t have as much presence on TV as other composers with 500-1000 tracks. I was suprised however, to find so many different usages for the 50 tracks I had uploaded. Some tracks I uploaded to be fingerprinted have not been used at all, but some have proven to be a lot more popular. I’ve tracked uses from UFC to the History Channel and even a Spanish tv show called Aurora. Its interesting to see which cues get re-used over and over and which cues are just one off uses.
About 2 months ago, I started checking my PRO statements and noticed the usages showing up on my royalties – the real test will come in about another 18 months when I check all of the usages against all of my royalty statements from IMRO to make sure they match. If they don’t, then I’ll be in a great position to prove my cues were used and show the exact dates, times, and audio clips of the usages.
TuneSat are always developing their service and upgrading different parts of the composer accounts – for instance, a few weeks ago I was invited to a demo of the new features they had implemented in the account section which allows you to view all of the same usages on a show into bundles – meaning you can get a good overview of everything (see video below for example). I gave them some feedback on some features I would be interested in seeing, and they were very receptive of this feedback, which again is a great thing to see.
The Future with Tunesat
Last week, I caught up with Melissa and Chris to discuss what features they had been working for the future and what Tunesat was moving towards. I was suprised at how much they have going on! First of all Internet Monitoring. Less than a few years ago, monitoring your music on tv was the next big thing (and it still is). Nowadays, with technology progessing as fast as it is, companies like Tunesat have the ability to start tracking where your music is used all over the internet. The internet being a vast and ever expanding cloud, its obviously near impossible to track every single web page in the world, but they’re off to a great start so far. Tunesat currently have over 600 million web pages indexed and can detect music on webpages to online radio stations. Currently in beta, this technology is astounding in my opinion and will be very interesting to see how it goes when launched.
Having partnered with License Stream, they have been working together for a year now, looking at implementing the technology to roll it out to all users once out of beta.
Another feature Tunesat are looking at offering in the future, is video clips. They have had numerous requests from composers to be able to view a video clip of where their music was used on tv (including me) and are hoping to be able to offer this at some time, either as an addon service for everyone, or just “a la carte” to anyone that requests the clips now and again, once their data centres have been upgraded.
Something which Tunesat are looking at getting more involved with is the composer community as a whole. If you think about it, its relatively easy to contact the large publishing companies/music licensing stores etc. to offer your services – however, composers by nature, are dotted all around the world making it far harder to reach everyone in a simple stroke. Therefore, Tunesat are hoping to reach more into the composer pool in the coming months and looking to make it even easier for people to sign up on a one by one basis. I found it to be a fairly simple process, but they’re looking at stream lining it further so that everything can be done online – including signing up, uploading tracks for fingerprinting and adding more to be fingerprinted later on. This is actually great news as it does make the overall process quicker and more simple – once everything is automated, they’ll be able to spend more time on reaching out to people, rather than processing paperwork etc.
After a number of months with Tunesat, I can see that I may have started with them a little prematurely. Currently, my tracks don’t have enough uses each month on tv to pay for the service – ie. its costing me more money to pay for TuneSat than it is saving me. However, I don’t see this as being a problemas the benefits outweigh the costs.
Music Supervisors – If your music is used on a particular show and you’ve tracked it on Tunesat, you could sit by and be happy it was used. You could also take it as a sign that the music supervisor of that show liked your music a lot, and might need more in the future. John Fulford mentioned on his podcast that he often looks into who the music supervisor was for the show that used his music and contacts them directly to see if they want more music. Why not? Sounds like a great idea, and a brilliant tip in my mind. You have nothing to lose, and might be able to bypass the music libraries, earning you the full fee from the music supervisor rather than 50%.
PRO Payments – TuneSat is a reliable way to track your PRO payments and ensure your royalties are paid correctly. With re-titling becoming a bigger model in the industry, it can make it harder to track your music usage. TuneSat provides and easy way to do this, and follow up on any non paying usages.
Demo Reel – Some people may disagree with this practice, but I’ll list it anyway. People starting off in the industry may want to build up a demo reel/list of clients. Although you didn’t actually write custom music for the shows, you can find the shows online and download the clip that uses your music and include it in your demo reel – its a handy way to showcase your music if you don’t write a lot of custom music for clients.
So if you have a large number of tracks used on tv – get in there now! Tunesat are great and I honestly think their service is great! (and no they didn’t pay me to say that!)