Top TV Producer: “It’s Amazing That We Still Pay Artists Anything for Music…”

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Earlier this month, UK-based artist Whitey ignited a firestorm by exposing the constant demands by TV (and other) producers for free music.  Well, here’s what he’s up against: it’s an interview with one the top music supervisors for television, PJ Bloom, who oversees music decisions for shows like Glee, CSI, and Nip/Tuck.

Here’s what he told MusicWeek earlier this year on the matter.


MusicWeek: How much revenue should people be expecting to make from a sync placement?

PJ Bloom: If you expect nothing, then you’ll probably be very pleased.  If you expect to get one of those $50,000 sync fees then you’re probably going to be quite disappointed.  There was a good moment 7-10 years ago when the retail record business was starting to fail and sync was starting to take over in a lot of ways.  We were spending a lot of money: our budgets were higher, the notion of licensing music had much more value so the fees were much higher.  Fees have systematically gone down and down over the years and that’s going to continue to happen.

Personally I’m shocked that you don’t pay us to get your music in there. I don’t say that to piss anybody off, I’m just saying that it’s amazing to me that we still pay [artists and labels] anything for it.

To me the potential disclosure opportunity is immense and potentially a great thing.  I would argue that if you as music rights owners could buy the right sync you probably would.  It’s the same as purchasing some sort of publicity – or in the States where you have to buy your way on to radio.

But the money is just going down and down.  You can expect to make good money in sync if you work to a quantity concept, rather than spend all your efforts trying to get that singular Grey’s Anatomy use.  Really work hard to make sure you’re blanketing all the [studios], not being overly concerned about what that fee is but more about developing a relationship within the sync community so that people that are in my position, buyers, feel comfortable doing business with you.

If you guys are willing to work with us on our fees but on more of a quantity level then I think everybody is in a position to make this a genuine income stream.”


75 Responses

    • TuneHunter

      He looks like inquisitor who burned Giordano Bruno on the stake 108 years after discovery of America.
      The preachers of FREE are as stupid as those who believe that we are the center of Universe!

    • jw

      I agree…..this guy probably doesn’t know the difference between a C# and a garden trowel.

  1. Minneapolis Musician

    Kind of like payola, eh? To TV producers.

    But the thing is, with the means of musical production being in the hands and home studios of MILLIONS of talented people, there probably IS more music than they need.

      • Minneapolis Musician

        I see a TON of quality. That’s the issue.

        And talent is not rare. Especially for background music for TV shows of today.

        • The Last Newspaper

          I think you may be right, based on what is generationally acceptable. Tell us more.

          • Minneapolis Musician

            Newspaper…I first started being paid to play music in the mid 1970s. Back then you had no access to studios or promotion other than if a label picked you to be their “product”. What you heard on the radio wasn’t the best talent available; it was the talent the music labels chose.

            Today a decent laptop and recording software gives you state of the art recording capability…far more recording quality that the Beatles had. And the Internet gives you a way to be heard.

            If you listen, there is a TON of real talent, buried amidst oceans of simplistic, me, too pop music. But still, an amazing amount of real musical talent is out there. The supply of really fine songs is huge. Therefore the price drops.

  2. Erik P

    How about no one give PJ Bloom ANY licensed music & watch how quickly he start’s offering to pay.

  3. Screaming for vengeance

    Ironic that a skunk like that can be called a producer yet has probably never produced a single original creation. Scumbag should be kicked right in the apple bag.

  4. steven corn

    “Exposure”…”promotion”…where does it stop? Music adds a significant value to a scene in a TV show, movie, or a commercial. It enhances the product. So if the expectation is that the artists should just be glad to get the exposure, how about sharing some of the license fees to those artists that help make the show more compelling (and, therefore, more popular with viewers)?

    If producers want to still get quality music, they have to be as committed to paying for it as much as they are paying for their on-screen talent. Why not just use actors who are willing to work for free? Why? because they want quality actors that bring value to the product. The same applies to the music and sound used in the show. (It also applies to make-up, costuming, etc.).

    • Jeff Robinson

      Absolutely. The right music is an imperative and essential element to any video/film related product.

  5. Minneapolis Musician

    But this valuable exposure has to lead to something that PAYS.

    And making recordings doesn’t pay…people expect that to stream for free.

    And he doesn’t think he really should pay for background music on TV, or in movies. So that won’t pay.

    Bars and restaurants now want you to pay to play, again, for “exposure”

    What is all this exposure is good for, if nobody will pay for anything musicians do?


  6. What A Load

    Hey PJ, do you tell the camera guy, “Yo dude, this gig isn’t going to pay you any MONEY but you will get amazing EXPOSURE when the audience sees your name in the credits.” See what happens then dude. It would be one thing if making the music was free, but it isn’t and the people who make it deserve to get paid. What about the actors? Should they be happy for just the “exposure?” A guy who works for Glee said this? Really?! Listen to his wording also when he says that giving the idiot music supervisors tons of music for practically nothing can eventually be a “genuine INCOME STREAM.” He uses the term “income stream” meaning that in order to make a “genuine LIVING” you would need to have this same sort of deal – tons of music for almost nothing – with several different music supervisors/tv shows/etc. Wow. This guy really thinks people are that stupid. The real lesson is this musicians/artists: “Exposure” is bullshit. Don’t sell your art for free. If you value yourself and the craft you’ve worked all your life to master, then make these jerks PAY you for it! They have the money so don’t sell yourselves short!

  7. jw

    This isn’t about work-for-hire, you can’t compare it to what a camera man does. That’s just ignorant. This is a licensing vs product placement debate.

    There is no single correct response to these kinds of requests. No blanket statements apply here.

    So much of it has to do with awareness. If it’s an established song & a good placement, you’re almost certainly going to get a bump. Badfinger got 5000+ downloads the night of the Breaking Bad finale, & the song has well over 2m plays on Spotify now (more than 6x any of their other songs). They’ve even re-recorded the song to make more cash off of the surge in popularity (which I think is pretty shady, but they’re certainly allowed to do whatever they please).

    If it’s not an established song, but there’s some kind of support behind the song, the awareness can be invaluable. A review that says “the song from that episode of Girls” is much more likely to translate to someone checking the band out. “Oh, I know that song!” or “I think I’ve heard this somewhere…” are what you want… most people don’t just go out & buy a song the first time they hear it. Anyone who works in radio can tell you that. That’s why the Black Keys did so well off taking every single sync they were offered.

    If you have nothing going on, & the sync is likely the only way anyone is going to hear the song, that’s probably not going to translate to very many sales & you might as well try to get all of the cash you can out of the sync.

    The same goes with the opportunity itself… if it’s a good spot, you’re more likely to get something off of the back end. The smaller the spot, the more interest you have in the up front cash (up until the point that you’re just doing something for charity). If it’s some two-bit reality show, of course people aren’t going to flood iTunes looking for your song. But if it’s Glee, that’s a completely different story.

    At least that’s how I see it.

    • what?

      so badfinger made… $3500 from the song in itunes sales? and another couple hundred from spotify micropennies… hmm. If they rerecorded the song… my guess is they barely broke even. not a good argument for ‘exposure’. especially with a band that is long established and quite well known.

      i bet they got a synch fee tho. so that’s where they made money (and on royalties of course.)

    • Remmet

      You keep mentioning “songs” as if vocal music is the only type of music used on a show’s soundtrack. There are a lot of very talented instrumental composers who have invested a lifetime of effort and education; developed expertise in production, engineering, orchestration, and myriad other skills; and taken on the never-ending expense of instruments, hardware, software, outside musicians, etc., etc. And frankly, we don’t feel like working for free. And unlike the few lucky songwriters or bands, our instrumental cues are not very likely to generate thousands of Internet sales, even though they are just as essential to the success of the show as any other element.

      • jw

        Oh certainly. If you can’t leverage the exposure, the exposure has no value. Obviously. And you should negotiate accordingly.

        To me, that’s a completely different scenario.

  8. TuneHunter

    Actually he might be correct, it is in line with my idea that Radio should not pay any royalties.

    Exposure like that, or any exposure, including elevator exposure should be an opportunity to discovery moment monetization – it should allow for reasonable acquisition or addition of the tune to your playlist.

    Providing that services like Shazam will stop to be slaves of the pirates and start to work for themselves and musicians.

    • Minneapolis Musician

      What monetization? Don’t they all want it for free, for all purposes these days?

      Too much supply of “good enough” music for the purpose intended.

      Hence the price has dropped to zero. And offers useless “exposure”.

      Just sayin’.

      If the public’s tastes ever turn to a type of music that is really hard to create, with a natural scarcity of talent who can do it, then you will see the price soar.

      • TuneHunter

        You would make instant $200K if your song would run on Glee and Shazam, Soundhoud or Gracenote would sale on your behalf.
        Instant enrichment for you and Shazam!
        As it is they will send freeloader to torrent or certified by labels YouTube and you, the owner, will get nothing!

        To conclude, Mr. Bloom is correct – if your tune is brilliant it might be a good deal for musician to pay Glee $50K to earn instant 150K and kindle new carrier.
        Again providing that the discovery services like Shazam are not voluntary slaves of the pirates.

        • Minneapolis Musician


          Who would pay you the $150,000 if your music was on Glee after you paid them $50,000 to put it on Glee?

          YouTube views?

          • TuneHunter

            Folks who would love your tune – to hear it again they would purchase it via Shazam for just 39 cents at instance – no drifting. Actually they would have no info to drift – would be stressed and would PAY!

            As we are Shazam will give for free your tune info to freeloader he he can rip it out for free from torrent or Tube. We have to switch to Discovery Moment Monetization. You like it you buy it now!

            Shazam has 400 million users and is screwing you and own investors – kids never made a penny.

            Twitter with 220 million users and ability to sale nothing (but some ads) is worth 30 billion.
            Time to wake up music executors!

          • vp219

            i’ve been saying this for years musicans need to find away to appeal to peoples impulse buying instincts, the less barriers present the more money we can make off our artistry

          • TuneHunter

            Discover Moment Monetization, or instant sales (whatever way you call it) THE ONLY WAY TO GO in the era of total access – otherwise you will get nothing!
            It is very easy to implement. …and folks will pay – good tune is liek a sex or narcotic.
            You cannot have better mechendise to trade. We know how big is drug industry and we know you got to pay $1 for a single use condom! (even at Walmart!)
            Lets take advantage of this professor has to say:
            Again 100 billion dollar music industry is around us – musicians you have to unite and kick executors at RIAA and labels to acction – the recovery has to start there.

  9. Local Talent Buyer

    I read and write one sheets every day. I buy and sell performance contracts. When I recommend potential acts for some events, inevitably the client picks the act with such things on their one-sheet as “this song appeared on (name your fav tv show or movie) soundtrack” My clients expect the talent to be skilled and professional at what they do. From their they base their picks on what the talent has done professionally. It’s all about the resume kids.

    • Minneapolis Musician

      And when they win these local events, do they get paid much, if anything?

  10. Local Talent Buyer

    ps … pls forgive typos. It’s early. I just poured coffee. 😉

  11. licensor

    It might be true that a song with lyrics can get an artist exposure in a show, but the same is not true for instrumental music. As someone who’s licensed music to major films, TV shows and ads, in my experience the instrumental music bed can make a film or a TV show compelling, but that doesn’t lead to viewers to discover the music. Producers always want to pay in exposure. Its the music attorney’s job to push back against that. If an artist’s sound is unique enough, they will pay for it, although I agree the fees are going down because there are so many desperate artists and labels who will say yes to anything.

  12. what a liar

    Being a publisher himself, mister P. J. Bloom has great interest in devaluing the work of others.

    Is Black Magnetic Music Publishing company giving sync licenses for free?

  13. David

    For someone who must be a smart guy, Bloom says some stupid things. Not least the last point, his claim that ‘everybody is in a position to make this a genuine income stream’. How does that work then? Bloom wants to drive payments per use down to nearly zero, so the total payment can only rise if the total amount of music used is greatly increased. But that can’t happen. TV shows and films are saturated with music already. Practically every moment that isn’t dialogue has music. (In the rare cases that it doesn’t, that is an artistic decision of the director, which won’t change just because music becomes even cheaper.) So short of cutting down drastically on dialogue – or playing several pieces of music at once! – there just isn’t scope for a great increase. Did Bloom not think for a moment before opening his pie-hole, or does he take his audience for fools?

  14. Tom Green

    It’s not as if there isn’t a precedent, from within our own ranks … I know of a few people who’ve had a chance to play support to some very big acts indeed, but they/their management/their label didn’t have the wherewithal to PAY the very big act for the …. exposure.

    This has never been any kind of clean business, and right now, as the Minneapolis Musician says, Supply & Demand, in tandem with early 21st century capitalism (as virulent as late 19c capitalism, but on internet-fuelled steroids) is going to make sure fees will keep going down. These people know the music industry is on the skids, and anytime any predator smells fear, that’s the time to move in and break the neck. It’s a power game. They have it. We don’t.

    • TuneHunter

      I agree with you – big scale model of your schematic is VEVO wimp inside of the Google pirate boat.

  15. New Business Model

    PJ’s got it right – and his model should be extended to other creatives: the actors, screenwriters and directors. I mean all the TV channels are doing is promoting them so why should they pay them, the producers are doing everyone a big favor and it’s time we woke up to it! And other thing that PJ is probably working on right now – artists should be paying us for wearing their promotional t-shirts with band names and tour dates.

  16. p

    i’m pretty sure Music Week didn’t report that accurately. He issued a statement after.

    • Big Ron

      Nope, Music Week reported his comments accurately. I was at the AIM Synch Seminar where he expressed these views with perfect clarity.

    • Iain Scott

      Do you know where? I can see no retraction (at least not through a quick search).

    • Yves Villeneuve

      More likely he is retracting because others are starting to raise the price on what he wants to receive for free.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      I searched, and found, that statement. Bloom didn’t deny saying any of it, and MusicWeek stuck very firmly by the quotes and reporting. He did say this:

      UPDATE: Bloom clarified that he personally didn’t “think any of you should necessarily give [music] away”, telling Music Week that he has to personally fight for fair sync fees for artists and rights-holders from studios that are reluctant to pay top dollar to use tracks.


  17. Jason Miles

    I can just say that we need to get Medevil on people like this. How dare they question our worth and our lifetime of dedication to be the best at what we do. There is no future with attitudes like this and it pisses me off

  18. again

    he keeps saying this to improve his own bottom line: as a supervisor, he makes money not having to pay out money, whether it’s being rehired because he was able to bring the music in under budget, or getting to keep a percentage or pay himself some of the savings (somehow, i suspect he’s also a musician… if i had time, i’d check his ASCAP publishing credits on songs used in shows he’s also supervised. i’d be willing to bet he shows up as a songwriter… and that he also got synch fees).

    as a publisher, he convinces artists to accept nothing; he gets his volume / quantity by subpublising aritsts wanting exposure, so he can do deals fast cuz he can say there’s no fee for artists on is roster. so he’s creating an expectation of nothing, from which he benefits.

    bottom line, of course, is that if he had the belief that people should be compensated for their efforts (not ‘entitled to’, but because they should be) it would be a different story. it’s like the billionaire Koch bros., or CEO bankers cashing out by destroying the middle class. they can, so they do.

    final note: exposure does nothing. my music (‘pop’ songs with vocals) has appeared in some central scenes in high profile shows (nothing as big as glee tho) and i’ll see dozens and dozens of views on youtube popping up in countries where the show is airing, and can tell when reruns air years later because it pops up again… people go to youtube, or more likely, torrent, after all that ‘exposure’. some buy, but very little.

    exposure only works if you have advertising, real music videos, major print coverage, etc. Even macklemore got local radio play before tv synchs, not the other way around.

  19. Iain Scott

    Do you know where? I can see no retraction (at least not after a quick search).

  20. hippydog

    He’s right in some ways, but his huge ego is making him look like a dick..

    I have no facts to back it up, so its just an opinion..
    1.) The chevy commercial I think did more for Fun!’s popularity then Glee did..
    2.) Glee DID BREAK ‘we are young’, there is no denying that.. but, it could be argued that breaking that song (and having it hit #1) did as much for Glee as it did for Fun!.. IE: For the first time it was shown that having your NEW song on Glee was a good thing, (and not just for making old songs popular again, or songs that had been around for awhile)..
    It also gave Glee a bit of ‘cred’ it didnt have before..

    My point is.. Glee lucked out with a good choice..
    They “backed the right horse” per se..
    but that doesnt mean all TV shows have the same power, nor should get everything for free..
    simple concept .. when you stop valuing the product, you start to get crap, if your first decision is to go even cheaper (to try and get more value), then you quickly spiral down to the worst common denominator..

  21. buck shine

    hmmm..grand theft auto makes billions …and they pay 5,000.00 per song tops ……american idol will pay a mere 400.00 to give a song exposure… this why more and more of our pop “stars” these days come from multi-millionaire families who finance their kids way to “exposure” like lady gaga, miley cyrus, robin thick, little wayne who then also funded nicky minage, or the disney crop who made their money from tv first ? I’m not sure what we songwriters/entertainers can do to change this as we are in a worldwide economic slump but it seems to be directly changing our culture : (
    were as many rich kids in the past becoming pop “stars” ? i’d love to know if I’m stuck on the wrong issue here…….

  22. buck shine

    if these music placement folks for tv really want to expose the artists music to a new audience, do any of them state the name of the song and artist on screen while it’s playing ? I know american idol at least mentions the name of the song for their 400.00 pay out but does their kind of exposure really help ?

    • more

      i’ve had had tracks on shows where they do the icon pop up with name. don’t recall seeing significant difference in follow ups, but I do think it’s a good idea.

      • lady miss kier

        that’s good to hear about the pop-ups but sadly ….not so good that it hasn’t affected sales or gig offers…if that’s what you meant. I’ve had the same experience from a song I wrote on American Idol…it seems to have had a reverse reaction and made the song less in demand because of the cheese factor of the show….there’s no way of knowing though in this economy. everybody seems to be struggling but those top 1% CEO’s .

  23. Marc Alan

    Considering all the people in the world that now consider music free it is an understandable situation that TV shows don’t want to pay for it either. Also given the laws of supply and demand that there are so many songs by so many artists looking to get placement and take nothing for their work, and so few shows looking to use those songs; that the price continues to be driven downward.

    But it is absurd to suggest that the artist pay to get placement as some promotional opportunities, since other than using the snip of the song the shows do little to highlight the artist or promote the song. Perhaps they could do more in that area to make it worthwhile for the artists to contribute the use of the song like featuring it prominently on the show’s website, or allowing use of the video from the show for a music video for the artist, and then featuring that video on their site. Then you’re talking promotional value in exchange for using the song.

  24. the deaf pretend to be listening

    The productions he is involved with sound like shit. Over-compressed, limited to death, shitty mixes of music material that the composers crafted with great taste and care.

    These “producers” you are talking about are deaf assholes who only care about themselves and always, ALWAYS, have an agenda to push.

  25. Karen S

    he’s a music supervisor, so the less money spends on music the more goes into his pocket.

  26. Chords-of-fame

    I can’t say it’s a stretch in thinking. Ugly, but conceivable. I mean, brands all the time pay for product placement for their pepsi cans, cars, etc in movies, so why not the music too? As much as i dont agree with the concept. And you *know* someone will pay it at some point – a major label looking for their marketing break (50% recoupable to the band’s account of course!) Alas then it becomes the domain (like radio, & everything else) of those with deep pockets – the majors! And the decision becomes not about the best music, but who will pay! Ugh. The flipside is of course the argument that the acts will benefit from the uses. But look at some of the artists on the Twilight series – probably the biggest soundtracks & sync uses of the last few years. Eastern Conference Champions? As much as it may have been a great placement for them, it’s not as though it has made a long lasting upward swing to their career.

    The interesting twist to this is I do believe PJ has his own music publishing company. So is he going to fork out the cash for placements? And I also think his wife has a pitching company, commissioning on placement fees. So if it heads that way does her income dry up too?

    Mind you… if you hear the word on the street, this may not be the ugliest set of circumstances in that world. Stories abound of music supervisors asking/getting kick backs for sync usages. And for asking for a percentage of the publishing in return for using a song. Not saying it’s across the board, but supposedly these things happen.

    Will be an interesting space to watch. Though the results may not be pretty. PJ may have come across as a bit brusque with his comments, but he is probably speaking the truth.

    • more

      a long time ago the trend was for music supervisors to take a percentage of the publishing, which meant they’d only pitch/use songs which they partially owned. many, many of them do it. and if you don’t give them some publishing, they won’t take on your song.

      in PJs case (his wife’s too?), he probably does this, and so he benefits by saying “yes” to no synch fee ( more likely to get trax used), because he’ll have a 1000 or 5000 song library he and/or his wife can pitch/use; if he owns 50% of each song, he makes a lot on royalties eventually; but imagine the artist, who gets one, or very few songs actually used: no upfront synch fee, and not much royalties on a song or two (versus PJs hundreds he’s able to place over time). so again, he benefits from being able to say ‘free of synch fee’ to productions he’s involved in.

  27. rikki

    as a DJ i agree we have Katrina flooded the market with the most vile ghetto crap available, and the air head chicky poo sound and rock “artist” who dont have a freakin clue what a danceable guitar solo is

    So pay for mediocrity? pay for auto tune? pay for lip synching? why?

  28. Richard Stefan

    as a DJ i agree we have Katrina flooded the market with the most vile ghetto crap available, and the air head chicky poo sound and rock “artist” who dont have a freakin clue what a danceable guitar solo is

    So pay for mediocrity? pay for auto tune? pay for lip synching? why?

  29. pay-up

    well of course Fun’s “We Are Young” could benefit from the exposure or “promotional opportunity” that a major sync can provide…they’re represented by a major label (Fueled By Ramen/Warner Music) They already had a machine behind them, the sync just provided a spark. The whole “exposure” aspect doesn’t always create dollars, especially for many BV use’s that are sometimes barely heard or even noticed. Yet that song still provides strong value to the content in which it’s synced to. So tell me how good “exposure” is for that…?

  30. Anonymous

    how about we just quit making music and play for our families and let you guys crash and burn. thats my plan if i ever have my way about it.

  31. Bee3Bob

    Why does anyone in his right mind give this guy a job? Why doesn’t he do HIS gig for exposure? I bet he makes quite a few bucks for creating NOTHING. He probably couldn’t play “Chop Sticks” if his life depended on it.

  32. pessnick

    Well, he probably thinks that meat grows on trees, milk bottles are filled by angry-white-females and radio was by-product of Steve Jobs’ search for peace in mid-east,
    It’s also a well recorded fact, that tv shows without any music are highly succesfull.
    Bloody idiot!

  33. GGG

    Now that I reread this after a couple days, is his tone him saying he’s surprised they pay at all because the exposure alone should be worth it, or he’s surprised that music budgets (of which he has no control) have shrunk so low it’s amazing there still even is one?

  34. Music Producer

    This blog is fantastic; what you show us is very interesting and is really good written. It’s just great!!

  35. PJBloomDikhead

    Dicks like him that have screwed up the music business not places like napster or other free music download sites. This guy is a crazy ass he’s killing the music. Don’t do business with him!