A campaign has been launched by The Ivors Academy and Musicians’ Union to oppose royalty buyouts for commercial use.
Composers Against Buyouts is backed by the likes of David Arnold and Hannah Peel, and highlights the fact that writers are increasingly being asked to sell their work for an upfront fee for TV, film and advertising use meaning they lose out on royalties over time.
“Understanding the business of composing is complicated, with composers on all different types of contracts. It’s so important that we educate ourselves and each other about what to look out for so we can make a living and sustain our careers," suggested Peel Hannah Peel, who has written music for Games of Thrones: The Last Watch.
James Bond composer Arnold agreed, suggesting the new practice was devaluing a key factor in many productions.
“Music brings films and programmes to life and creates an emotional connection like nothing else," he suggested. "It may not be visible, but it is truly tangible, and the people that create this amazing music should have their rights protected, not eroded.”
According to a 2019 survey by The Ivors Academy, 64% of media composers had seen their fees decreased over the preceding two years, while 70% had worked for free at some point.
“As a community of composers and songwriters, The Ivors Academy has long opposed buyouts and championed royalties," declared Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy. "Our campaign aims to empower and support media composers to successfully negotiate with commissioners and sustain their careers.”
Naomi Pohl, deputy general secretary of the MU added that film, TV and advertising producers needed to have a greater appreciation of the work that went into scoring when negotiating with composers.
“It is increasingly difficult for media composers to make a decent living," she explained. "Commissioning fees should adequately reflect the amount of work involved in writing and producing music for screen and ongoing royalties help to keep composers in the business.”