Steve Jablonsky Explains why the Transformers 4 Soundtrack is no longer available on iTunes
Whatever your opinion might be of the Transformers 4: Age of Extinction movie, one thing that is widely agreed upon is that the musical score and soundtrack are amazing. So why is something that is selling like gangbusters no longer available on iTunes? The answer, strangely enough, is money. To sell more albums than 14,999, the AMF (American Federation of Musicians) has rules in place governing soundtracks that sell more than a certain amount. More than that, there are additional fees to sell your work. To explain this “If you want to sell your product, it’s gonna cost ya.” business model in more detail, Steve Jablonsky himself has issued the following statement.
I’ve received a lot of questions on Facebook and Twitter asking why the TF4 soundtrack was removed from iTunes. Here’s the short-ish answer: The AFM (American Federation of Musicians) has rules regarding soundtrack releases and re-use fees. One option they offer is the option to produce and sell 14,999 units without any additional re-use fees. Once sales hit 15,000+ units, additional payments kick in. The number 15,000 was chosen I believe because a good selling soundtrack generally sells around 5k-10k units, so this option provides most union film productions the opportunity to release a soundtrack and sell up to 15k units without incurring any additional re-use costs.
Now because you guys are so awesome, the TF4 score hit 15,000 units really quickly. I honestly had no idea the score had been pulled down until fans started contacting me asking why the soundtrack had vanished from iTunes, only a couple months after the release of the film. I suspected the 15k limit was the reason, a little investigation proved that to be the case.
Some of you have asked another great question: why are TF1 and TF2 still available? For both of those scores, the people responsible for paying the additional re-use costs chose to go ahead and pay them. In other words they allowed sales to go beyond the 15k limit. Different people are in charge of TF3 and TF4, and they have chosen not to pay the additional costs, which is why neither TF3 or TF4 are available any longer. It’s strictly an economic decision. The additional re-use costs can and do add up to significant numbers, especially with scores like Transformers. These movies are huge with a ton of score, and I hire a lot of very talented musicians to perform, which results in even higher re-use costs if we go beyond the 15k limit.
I have had many many discussions about this topic, unfortunately it is out of my hands because I am not the one responsible for paying the re-use fees. For those interested in a physical TF4 CD I believe La La Land records has some unsigned copies left (sorry the signed ones are all gone). After these are gone, the TF4 score will no longer be available. The TF3 score is already gone. My hope is that we will figure out a way to re-release in the future, but for now this is the situation.
This topic is very close to my heart. It’s really hard to put so many months of work into a score and then hear from people all over the world that they would love to purchase your music but they cannot because it’s not available. These are good people looking to buy this music, asking me what happened where did it go, and I don’t have a good answer for them. I’m hoping with more discussion we can find better ways to address this issue. I do believe there are better ways, where everyone can benefit without fans being left out in the cold because they didn’t buy the score fast enough.
So there you have it. As Steve mentions there are some physical copies still available at La La Land records (Which you can purchase here) — but after that, once they are gone, they are gone for good.
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