The Support Group Blog

The Royal Treatment

The Support Group Helps a National Entertainment Company Manage Royalty Reporting

What’s a well-known, national entertainment organization to do when they need a way to track the music for their many television programs? Turn to FileMaker Pro, of course.

Six years ago the company faced a significant challenge: how best to log all of the music “cues” that are used for their television shows? It is not unusual for a single episode to have anywhere from 30-50 different tracks; given the number of shows the company airs this can add up to an average of 10,000 cue sheets per quarter. The producers need to record the song usage not just for their own internal purposes but so that it can be accurately reported to performance-rights organizations such as ASCAP and BMI. It was clear they needed a database, so they approached The Support Group with their vision for building one. The result was a cue-tracking system that logs each cue sheet by program name, airdate, territory and show number, ultimately allowing each user to enter the list of related cues for each sheet, which consists of the song title, composer name, and publisher information. The collected data is then used to generate thousands of pdf files, which are then reported for royalty collection on a quarterly basis. The new reports are much more efficient and accurate than the old manually prepared ones, and generating them from the database requires considerably less man hours.

It was also the beginning of a long and successful working partnership. Over the years several members of The Support Group team have helped to contribute to the development of the system, most recently New York office Systems Engineer Kathryn Anderson. “Kathryn was a quick learner,” says the company’s Music Specialist, “and she fully understands every aspect of the system.” The client adds that it is sometimes hard for her to articulate exactly what she needs, but “I can tell Kathryn what I’m looking for and she’ll give me a few different options. We have a great working relationship.”

Both the system and the partnership have continued to evolve over the last 6 years. The structure has been updated, features have been added, and new entry controls have been implemented to help maintain the integrity of the data. Script changes were added to make the pdf conversion of their thousands of cue sheet reports a smoother process. Most recently the client began accessing the system on her iPad via FileMaker Go. It speaks a lot to the stability of the system that no additional programming was needed to make it iPad-ready; the client says she installed the application, opened up the system and “it works like the full version.” The client is the only administrator on the system and therefore the only person that can make high-level changes. Because most of the producers work off hours, it is not unusual for new music requests to come in at night or over the weekend. Being able to access the system on her iPad allows her to log the new changes right away from wherever she is.

In addition to Anderson, the client reports that all of the staff she’s worked with from The Support Group has been “responsive and respectful. I’ve never been disappointed with their results.” It is not unusual in her business for emergencies to crop up at the last minute, but according to her, The Support Group has never left us hanging. “Time is of the essence here,” she says, “but we always feel like we are a priority client for them.” She adds, “It’s amazing how I can just ask for 5 key things I’m looking to have implemented and then quickly see a result. I say it all the time - they are truly gifted.”

“Plus,” she adds, “they’re just nice people.”

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