Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Experience with "Broadjam" - Is it worth it?

Many of my fellow musicians and students may be considering joining websites like Broadjam as they seem to offer good opportunities for composers, especially one's without access to "The Industry."  

Once on Broadjam's list, one gets regular emails with subjects such as:  "Last Chance for $15,000 Piano Licensing Opportunity."  "$30,000 Deadline for Positive and Bright Tracks!"  This sounds great!


I won't answer the question of "is it worth it," but instead I offer the empirical data of my experience with the website.


As my experiment was from 2011, I will offer the current rates for participating in any of these contests or working with Broadjam:


A "Primo Membership" currently costs $19.95 a month, or $199.95 for one year, or $299.95 for two years, or $399.95 for three years.  For this price you get:

  • $5 submissions to all Music Licensing Opportunities
  • Your own templated .com website ($60 value)
  • Direct access to industry professionals.
  • Sell mp3 downloads, and keep 100% of the profits for your first 500 sales
  • Unlimited Song Transmissions
  • 12 Free entries in monthly songwriting challenges ($60 Value)
  • Eligibility for spotlight in the Broadjam Newsletter, sent to thousands weekly.
There is also a Film/TV membership for $9.95 a month or $99.95 per year.  For this price you get:
  • $5 submissions to all Film/TV  Licensing Opportunities
  • Direct access to industry professionals
So here's my story:  

As I was teaching a film scoring class for UCLA continuing studies at the time, back in 2011 I decided to try using the website to market my music - to evaluate the website's value for composers just staring out.  

I also committed myself, for three months, to competing in any contest where my music was appropriate.  I signed up for a year membership and for the period of three months, I was making submissions about four or five times per week or more.

But my submissions, mostly at $5 a piece, were not without qualification.  There were certain contests I would not participate in.

For example, if you read the complete email for the two contest above offering $15,000 and $30,000 for the winner, these also says that the purse is "to be split with the publisher."  

I would never submit for these as my understanding is that if you win these contests, not only do you split the purse, a publisher would then take your publishing to the piece in question.  This did not feel right to me as my publishing and the ability to submit my pieces in multiple places at once is vital to my business.  Therefore, I would only submit to contests where there was no middle man between myself and the client.


After submitting a piece, what would happen then?  

When I would sign into my Broadjam account, I would be able to view a timeline of contest.   It would tell me things like, "On Thursday, June 9th 2011, the provider played 192 song(s).  Your  song, "Priceless Moments" was played.

Likewise, you could participate in a "Peer Review" process where fellow musicians could vote on your piece and how appropriate it would be for the project described.  The song would then be tagged with a peer rating.

For a neophyte composer, having a peer review would be of interest.  Knowing where you stand against professionals is good to know.

However, and there is no way to say this without sounding egotistical - but it needs to be said:  

As an Emmy nominated composer with 20+ years of experience, I would hope that my music would be favorably reviewed.  And I did indeed find this the case.  I was always in the top 5%.  Often I would see messages in the timeline saying my music was downloaded by the provider and under consideration.

But let's look at the empirical data:  

If there were, as it was in one case, 192 submissions, all things being equal, my chances of seeing the full purse for my $5 submission was 1 in 192, or a .0052% chance of winning.  

If you landed in the top 3, often Broadjam would kick in $50 to the second and third place compositions, changing the odds of seeing a return on your $5 investment to 3 out of 192, or .015625%

By comparison, the odds of winning at roulette, when betting on black, are 47.37%.

Still, a was committed to trying.  One win would more than wipe out what I was spending.

And then it happened.  After 30 or so submissions, I finally saw on my timeline:


Congratulations!

The Provider of this Opportunity has selected 1 of your songs, and will be contacting you. Please make sure your contact information is accurately filled out in your Broadjam account.
Please contact Broadjam Customer Service for this Provider's contact information if needed.
Please note: Broadjam is not a party to any contracts you sign with Opportunity Providers.
Here's a sceenshot from my timeline confirming my win:

A few days later I did indeed get an email from "The Provider."  I responded that I was thrilled they liked the piece and asked what the next step was to finalizing the license.

There were no further contacts from Broadjam nor "The Provider," and I never received my prize.  Multiple emails to "The Provider" were never answered.

Thus ended my experiment with Broadjam.  If you have had an experience with Broadjam, I invite you to share it in the comments below.

Like this post?  Check out my other music tech posts!



















13 comments:

  1. Craig, a few things to note:

    1) For me, the huge red flag right at the outset is being in any kind of pay-to-play situation. Broadjam is not the creative. They are not directors, producers, editors, or writers. They are the middleman. They are asking for you to PAY them to give you (dubious and unprovable) access to the creatives. In my opinion, this is wrong.

    2) Double-whammy that even after you've paid your membership fee, you still have to pay them to submit to an individual opportunity.

    3) How do you have ANY assurance that the opportunities are real at all? Maybe they just make up a brief and insert some false play counts and run away with hundreds of dollars from each gambler.

    IMO this is NOT a professional business, nor is any business that works on this model. The creatives are out there. Find them on LinkedIn or research their earlier work or google for them. You can kindle relationships with these people and get briefs right from the horse's mouth.

    Your chances of placement may still be 1/200 (or worse) but you should never be in a pay-to-play situation. This is just ripe for corruption and I wouldn't be shocked at all if some or all of it was faked.

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  2. I have a totally different take on this whole issue.

    Much of the bias I read in Internet posts like this have one common theme. Pay-for-play is a rip-off. My guess is that people who complain about this aspect of the music business, similarly want "everything for free"......an attitude that is swelling in our society and in our country.

    First of all, very few things that "are free" really have much value.

    So, here is my take. I do NOT see these kinds of services as pay-for-play. I good ones, I see as.....PAY FOR SERVICES. The good services provide a service that saves me time, gives me VALUABLE feedback on my songs, provides access to industry professionals that I would otherwise NOT have access to and can open doors for me.

    I have been an ASCAP songwriter for over 50 years and write and compose daily to this day. I place a lot of music using numerous resources and have a LOT of music being used and placed. I also have a LOT of rejection, but that is part of the process. Sometimes, my song or composition is JUST NOT right for an opportunity.....I understand that because I have worked as a music supervisor on numerous projects and know the process is fast, furious and a song has to grab you right away to be considered and saved for later review.

    Broadjam, as an example, has been the most effective pay-for-service service that I have used. There is a discount on the $5.00 pay-for-service submission if you have a song is included in any Top Ten Chart at Broadjam, you pay $2.50.

    I remember talking to Michael Laskow at Taxi and he said the submission fee was used to pay reviewers and it also acted as a "firewall" to keep people from just sending in 50 songs for a listing, so the "fee" works as a self-policing tool to make those submitting the songs to be much more selective when submitting songs to a listing.

    I see that there are numerous perspectives in play here. One is from the "submitter" (wants an honest service, (free stuff?), wants success and wants feedback and doors opened), the business provider (needs to be paid to do the work and provide the service, saves the submitter time by doing the work for them) and the lister (who's wants quality submissions that answer his needs quickly, so they can move on to the next project or the stages in the project they are working on). Moreover, there are other other issues that can pop-up while working on a project.

    I try to learn from every success AND rejections, it makes me smarter and more selective when making submissions. Moreover, I DO NOT feel that there is anything wrong with PAYING for a service that save some time (time=money).

    Finally, who are our competitors? Other writers, and there are a LOT of good and great writers in the world who are trying to make a living or some shekels to pay their bills and support their efforts.

    BUT, do NOT forget the pair of 800 pound gorillas in the room.....i.e.....the huge corporate music libraries, the indie music libraries.... the corporate libraries have sales people pounding a way on the phone calling producers of films and shows. Song pluggers are out there hustling, too...... So, to compete, we artists have to work as hard as they do and use every tool available to help us succeed. So, I see pay-for-service (play) companies as a valuable partner.

    Are their bad ones? Sure. But, there are a lot of good ones, too.....so do your homework and do NOT fall into the habit of complaining about have to pay people to help you.....

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  3. I've been a member of Broadjam since 2003, and I can say with certainty that it may not be a complete scam, but they use deceptive practices to encourage ppl to submit licensing opportunities, few if any will ever materialize. If you look at their "Success Stories" some LA sleaze ball that is selected for everything(name withheld but statistically it's impossible for his shit music to be picked for anything....u may get a track on Bad Girls Club. Maybe once a year someone gets a good slot on a show or sells a song to a country artist. I kept an acct there for a decade just because $20 is chicken feed to get a worldwide platform for your music...I even had a DJ in Australia contact me to play my music on a Queensland FM station !! But the crooks at BJ had nothing to do with that. Many of those early years was when it was just getting off the ground and Licensing wasn't a big issue. But the site has turned into a fraudulent scheme machine. After being "Selected" for dozens of projects, I wasn't NEVER contacted by anyone. Back then Broadjam didn't put a disclaimer up that says "once you give up your money, it's between you & the other party". I contacted Roy Elkins and he actually called me at one point to smooth me over and claim that "we don't work with any of those ppl any longer". That was his answer to dozens of "selections". I could accept a 50% rate, but I wasn't contacted by anyone...until I was suddenly selected by a listing that was supposedly from Bacardi Liquors for a web campaign. Although the original posting had a much higher figure, someone of indeterminate origin parked $200 in my Paypal acct. I was more interested in having my music used by Bacardi, so I tried several times to contact this unknown person to get info on a public airing...that never happened. I had enough of what was surely a scam or a very deceptive practice to get fees from submissions. I stopped submitting for at least a solid year. I saw a listing that had an $8000 price tag up front, I thought maybe I would try again. I was "Selected" and given the name of a legitimate producer or supervisor in the music business. I was once again very excited, maybe my luck had turned. So far, the "final determination" has lapsed a month back, I have heard NOTHING from "Big Rob Williams" (who I just found out lives in South Africa, not Atlanta as I had thought). So, I think they are now using legit music biz names and setting up dummy dupe persons with an identical name who will surely live in Nigeria or the Moon. This is just a modification of the same old shit from Roy Elkins and his one minion who stuff that money right in their pocket. The whole thing is an elaborate fraud. I've filed an Internet Fraud Report with the FBI but so far I haven't been contacted. The bottom line is you don't pay legitimate ppl to listen to your music. If you do, you're just gonna have to learn the hard way, $5 at a time...

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    Replies
    1. Broadjam is trying to make amends for my situation. The music business is as competitive as it gets in light of home studios producing broadcast quality product. Although I have a legitimate complaint with the past, BJ is implementing transparency checks so members will not feel like they are just being used as suckers to take money off of. I suggest that members not invest too much in licensing until they decide if it's worth paying a fee for. Being "selected" doesn't mean you have the gig. I think BJ should change that term to "selected-conditional". Or "selected-with exceptions". That way members don't get too excited when they see it next to their submission. That is the main issue I have with BJ, and they should seriously consider changing it. Broadjam has value beyond licensing listings. Making contacts, collaborating, selling swag, posting videos, having a sync'd 2nd website all have value, and $19.99/month is very reasonable. And be very careful of signing over your songs, you will never get them back and it may be the Golden ticket that you knowingly misplaced. The main thing is to make music, do reviews of others and you will make fast friends, and contacts are the most valuable thing you can have in the music business.

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    2. I have paid probably a few hundred dollars in submissions to Broadjam over 5 or 6 years, and I only submit when I have a song that fits the description very well (and also include a link to other material that the person could listen to). I have yet to get a single placement. Meanwhile in another library, I have had close to 500 placements, without having to pay anything upfront (they take 50% of any revenue they generate, which is standard). I have more "success stories" on a regular basis than it seems all of Broadjam as a whole, based on their occasional "hey we got a song on this cable TV show!" emails seem to indicate. I agree that the whole thing seems dubious at best.

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    3. In the great Goldrush, thousands of people came to search for very little. Who made the money?
      Those that set up the stores to sell shovels and pans! That's all Broadjam is and unless you all realize this you will throw good money after bad.

      Delete
  4. TenVolt what site are you using that is letting you submit to shows without having to pay anything upfront??? -Chris Wayne

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    Replies
    1. I don't have a site. I have music supervisors and personal contacts….

      Music Dealers used to do it, but they went under.

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  5. Well I'd rather not give specifics and create competition for myself but I'll say it's not submitting to shows directly, it's submitting to libraries that have no submission fees that I've had the most success with. Not a lot of upfront money, but steady royalties via ASCAP for hundreds of (mostly) cable TV shows that then get syndicated in other countries as well.

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  6. I have been using Broadjam for a couple of years .. spent quite a bit on them ..got offered their " if your song makes more than $5000 we will own your copyright forever" for all of my songs ... (no thank you),won the song of the month contest, been considered and SELECTED but ..never hearing back ...never receiving a cent. Yes I agree BJ is a scam.

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  7. Make Money in Music! This book will show you how - with sections on all the ways a Successful Musician can make money, without being a star.

    ReplyDelete