Discovery Networks has abandoned a plan to eliminate royalties to music composers for its shows on HGTV, Food Network, Animal Planet and more. The move by Discovery came after pressure from composers and their advocates.
Discovery said in December it would no longer pay royalties on music composed for its US TV shows, past and future. Instead, composers would only get an initial fee and foreign royalties instead of US royalty payments collected through performing rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Those that balked at that deal would have their music stripped out of the existing shows, Discovery said.
The US royalty payments make up a majority of composer incomes, and the proposed deal predictably drew outrage from the affected music creators. Now, the themes and underscores creators will continue to be paid as they have been for decades.
The Production Music Association, an organization representing many composers for music featured on Discovery Networks shows, announced the deal in a statement. “Discovery has decided that their US channels will remain operating ‘as is’ under the traditional performing-rights model.”
Discovery confirmed that message.
A successful social media campaign called “Your Music Your Future” was a key to the pressure on Discovery. Many prominent composers supported the campaign. The PMA also cited Shawn White, VP of global music for Discovery, “for this decision. We greatly appreciate this and look forward as a community to working together with Discovery to provide their programming with the best quality music possible,” the PMA statement said.
National Music Publishers’ Association President & CEO David Israelite also issued a statement.
“We are pleased Discovery Networks has chosen to no longer challenge the established system of paying composers performance royalties. Attempting to avoid fully and fairly compensating composers would have devastated countless creators and set a dangerous precedent. Other networks should take note and avoid threatening the livelihoods of songwriters and composers by pushing them into upfront payment models that ultimately devalue their work.”