The tough life of music composers just got tougher as the Discovery network makes an unconscionable demand on them.
“Shows on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, HGTV and Food Network may sound very different in the coming months. That’s because Discovery Networks, which owns those and other cable channels, is instituting a new pay policy that virtually assures no composer currently working on their programs will do so after Dec. 31.
Discovery has informed many of its top composers that, beginning in 2020, they must 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.
Music makers surmise that the policy will result in an 80% to 90% drop in their income from these shows. It’s the last straw for many composers who say they will refuse to continue to score such series as ‘Gold Rush,’ ‘Deadliest Catch‘ (pictured) and ‘Alaskan Bush People,’ calling the new contract provisions ‘unprofessional,’ ‘bullying,’ ‘a corporate money grab’ and ‘evil.’
Variety spoke with more than a half-dozen composers who have been informed of the proposal, which is designed to circumvent the 100-year-old system whereby composers are compensated for use of their music in broadcast media. Those royalties are collected and distributed by performance-rights societies ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
Composer David Vanacore (‘Fixer Upper’) says that initial fees are already so low that he and his peers rely on the so-called “back end” payments just to keep operating. ‘There is no way I can support what it takes to do a show based on what they’re offering,’ he says. ‘I don’t think they understand the amount of time and energy that goes into the creative process.'”
For the rest of the story, visit Variety here.