As if it couldn't get any worse...
First the Netflix / streamers push for buy-outs detailed in The Hollywood Reporter article linked in our previous news post, and now this...
We've just noted this Variety article which reports that Discovery Networks (which owns Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, HGTV and Food Network etc) has informed all composers working on it's shows that they must, from December 31st 2019, "give up all performance royalties paid for U.S. airings, and that they must sign away their ability to collect royalties on all past shows on its networks."
Not unlike Netflix in our previous news post, it appears Discovery is requesting all composers sign "direct source licenses" which will enable them to bypass Performing Rights Organisations (PROs) like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. This means other than the upfront fee there will be no royalty payments for public performance of the music on any Discovery Network channel or affiliate, and no subsequent re-licensing fees for re-use worldwide, on any show, or across any media, ever.
Put very plainly, THIS IS NOT ON.
As you all know, the up-front fee only just covers the costs of production and running a successful business with all the over-heads that come with this job we all love. It's been reported that up-front fees for some have declined up to 50% over the last 20 years, and not only is Discovery not offering any "financial component to compensate me for any domestic royalties they are asking me to sign away" but they are issuing veiled threats that if composers don’t take the new deal, "their music will be stripped out of existing shows and replaced with generic library music that the network already owns". This would represent many composers' “retirement,” which, according to Society of Composers and Lyricists President Ashley Irwin, is "important to every film and TV composer because (unlike almost every other creative job in Hollywood) they have no union protection and the benefits that usually affords. “The closest thing we have to a pension plan is that royalty stream that comes through the performing-rights organizations. If that goes away, we’ll have nothing.”"
There is a growing community supported by luminaries such as John Powell, Carter Burwell, Hans Zimmer and more called Your Music, Your Future. Consider supporting their fight to retain adequate payment for what we do, and to preserve our royalty stream!
The AGSC recommends you NEVER give up your Writer's Share, NEVER give up your publishing without being adequately compensated for the loss of this right, NEVER allow your music to be re-used across different programs or media without receiving remuneration for this re-use.
Remember, if you are an APRA member, you have already assigned all rights in any current or future works to APRA which enables them to collect performance royalties on your behalf. Because of this you CANNOT relinquish your Writer's share of public performance royalties for a screen production, and signing a contract, whether that be a “buyout”, “direct license”, “work for hire” or “direct source license” stating that you relinquish your Writer's share would be in breach of your APRA membership. This protects Australian screen composers, and means that contracts of this nature are NOT Australian practice.
Please, read the Variety article and the Hollywood reporter article above, get fired up and share with your networks and across your socials. And please contact the AGSC if you come across any deals like the ones mentioned in the article below. Lets stick together on this one. Our craft is under threat of extinction.