Friday 18 November 2011

Record Labels and Media Monitoring

As a fledgling Record Label, the biggest challenge is to ensure a high utilization of the catalogue across different media such as Television, Radio, Internet, Synchronization in Ad Films, Mobile downloads etc. 
In the case of Television, the Record Label can either do an annual deal with the Television Channel or “pay as you use”. In an annual deal the Channel pays a lump sum amount on an annual basis for the utilization of Record Label’s library (catalogue and upcoming titles), whereas in a “pay as you use” scenario the Channel pays each time it utilizes the track owned by the Label.
W.r.t “pay as you use”, there are two scenarios:
Scenario 1
The TV Channel’s Business Operations Manager gets in touch with the Record Label, informs them about the track that the Channel wants to use in Soap/Reality/Event etc., and confirms the License fee. Upon positive confirmation from the Operations Manager, the record Label is good to prepare the invoice, receive payment against the same and issue the License for Telecast of Songs/Music.
Scenario 2
The Supervising/Executive Producer of the Soap/Reality/Event etc. utilizes the Song/Music owned by the Record Label and miss to inform about its usage to the Business Operations manager. The said usage comes to the notice of the Record Label.  Although utilization of the track without the permission of the Record Label amounts to infringement of copyright, in the interest of business and to develop a long term relationship with the Television Channel, the Record Label approaches the Television Channel and informs them about this usage. However the Operations Manager requests the Label to provide exact details like Name of the Album, Name of the Track, Name of the Programme in which the track was utilized, Time of telecast etc. to confirm the usage.
Providing video recording of the claimed usage by the Record Label to the Channel sufficiently confirms the claimed usage. The big question is:
How can a Record Label obtain the Video recording of a Programme that has already been telecast?
OK, I can hear the clamoring of Youtube, Hulu etc..but what if it’s not there?
Enter the world of Media Monitoring Services..
Television Monitoring is one of the services provided by Media Monitoring Agencies. The Monitoring Agency records, retrieves, transcribe, translate, and deliver reports in various formats. They also provide archived recordings of telecast on various Television Channels.  The Record Label can employ the services of these Monitoring Agencies to obtain customized reports on the usage of its catalogue by various Television Channels.
Some examples of Monitoring agencies are Esha News, Perfect Monitoring, TAM etc.
The purpose of employing the services of monitoring agencies by Record Labels is to ensure the compliance of the contract terms between the Record Label and the Television Channel apart from checking unauthorized usage of the tracks owned by the Record Label.
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Typically a half hour recording for a single channel costs anywhere from INR 175/- to INR 500/-,(could vary from agency to agency). However if the requested recording is more than a year old, one has to pay a premium.
In case the requirement of the Record Label is to get a monthly report on the usage of its tracks, a single report say Song Report By Brand or Trailer Report by Brand typically costs INR 30,000/- to INR 50,000/-.
Illustrated below are typical costs involved in setting up Record label’s own monitoring infrastructure. Though the estimates are illustrative the Bill of Material mentioned in the estimate will give the reader of this post a fair idea of the actual costs involved. Also note that the estimates do not cover the cost of sophisticated software employed by professional monitoring agencies to keep the human intervention minimal. In the below estimates, the capability of the employee manning the monitoring desk is critical to mark instances wherein the tracks from Record Label’s library are played. It will be fair to assume that the employee has sufficient knowledge of the tracks owned by the Record Label.
Please note that the cost is proportional to the number of channels to be monitored.

 I hope the information provided in this post will be helpful to the readers and will aid them in a similar situation.
As always, I’ll request the reader of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

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