The Ivors Academy and Musicians’ Union have launched a new campaign, Composers Against Buyouts, to oppose unethical business practices that damage media composers’ rights, earnings and careers. Composers for TV, film and advertising are increasingly being asked to sell their work for an upfront fee, a buyout, which means they lose out on royalties over time.
The Academy and MU are standing with media composers against such short-sighted business practices and calling for rights to be respected. The campaign aims to raise awareness amongst media composers, provide educational support to composers at the start of their career and set standards when composers are commissioned by broadcasters.
Hannah Peel, who has written music for Games of Thrones: The Last Watch, said:
“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.”
Composer David Arnold, who has scored five Bond films, said:
“Music brings films and programmes to life and creates an emotional connection like nothing else. 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.”
Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy, said:
“As a community of composers and songwriters, The Ivors Academy has long opposed buyouts and championed royalties. 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, said:
“It is increasingly difficult for media composers to make a decent living. 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.”
A 2019 survey of media composers by The Ivors Academy showed that 70% have worked for free, 64% had seen commissioning fees decrease over the previous two years, 64% said the commissioning environment is coercive and 86% wanted to see more transparency of information around commissioning practices.
The campaign launches with an animation to explain buyouts to media composers at the start of their careers, which has been produced by students from London College of Communication, UAL as a paid project. UAL is ranked number 2 in the world for Art and Design (QS World University Rankings 2021).