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Discovery Networks Deliver Devastating Blow To Music Composers
"Have you heard what Discovery Networks' new policy does to composers' pay? If this dangerous practice of undercutting music makers sticks, the industry has a major problem." –Conversations In Advocacy #72
Making a living making music has never been easy – but it just got a lot harder for many composers working in television. Discovery Networks announced a new policy that would negatively affect those creators who add tremendous value to their programming. In essence, the new policy will require creators to give up all of their past and future performance royalties in the United States. Early estimates indicate this will result in an 80 to 90 percent drop in income for music makers. Ouch.
Discovery Networks owns many familiar stations in the United States, including Animal Planet, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, and the Travel Channel. They count successful shows such as "Deadliest Catch," "Gold Rush" and "Alaskan Bush People" to their roster, and royalties for their programs are collected and distributed by the performing rights organizations ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Composers have been paid royalties under this system for years, and the new policy threatens to change that, instead requiring composers to either accept the new deal or have their music stripped from existing shows and replaced with generic library music the network already owns.
In response to this frightening shift, ASCAP has released a statement condemning the company’s new policy, stating that, "Composers are an important part of the creative teams that make a show successful and it is disappointing that Discovery would not recognize the true value their work brings to their shows."
Also, a group of composers have banded together to launch a website to express their concerns, share information and fight back. Already, nearly 11,000 composers have signed up in support of the cause, a testament to how widespread the financial impact of this new policy could ultimately be.
And if money is the matter here, what will this mean for Discovery Networks' bottom line? According to Variety, "Some estimates suggest that avoiding ASCAP, BMI and SESAC royalty payments might save them $25 million or so – less than 1 per cent of Discovery’s third-quarter 2019 revenue of nearly $2.68 billion."
Worse still, many composers fear the new policy could set a new precedent in the industry, making the already difficult job of earning a living all the more challenging for music creators.
Discovery issued a statement of their own, saying, "Our 8,000 hours of original programming a year drives enormous economic value to the global music community. We compensate countless composers and musicians for their valued contributions, and will continue to do so.”
For more information, visit the Your Music Your Future website, and stay tuned here for updates.