In March 2021 when the UK government had just published the roadmap that would take us out of the third national Covid-19 lockdown, The Ivors Academy and Musicians’ Union expanded their umbrella Keep Music Alive campaign beyond streaming and into the world of media composition. The Composers Against Buyouts Campaign was launched with the ultimate aim of ending the practice of coercive buyouts in the media commissioning space, and with the fantastic support of a campaign advisory group including members of each organisation.
Initially conceived as an industry engagement and information campaign, during the last two years we have organised two music and broader creative industry roundtables at which buyouts and associated concerns have been discussed, run member webinars for media composers covering how to price your work and negotiation skills, arranged for the campaign to have a presence at events including Output Belfast, The Great Escape, the Children’s Media Conference, Sensoria and SXSW. We have met with commissioners and, in recent months, moved the campaign into the political domain by way of a Westminster Hall debate on “Songwriters and Composers: Remuneration” and ministerial roundtable meetings.
Two years in, as well as taking stock of what we have achieved, we have also been looking at the extent to which the campaign focus has broadened to include other issues of fairness in the media commissioning world (e.g. pitching processes, improving diversity, increasing transparency) and taking the opportunity to consider how we might address concerns about the lack of nuance in original campaign name – whilst it has served us well it is now restricting other organisations’ (and some composers’) ability to get involved.
So today at Output Belfast, we are relaunching the campaign as Fair Score.
This new name reflects the fact that the campaign will continue to work towards fairness in the round and respond to all the pressures being faced by our media composer members, that the musical score lies at the heart of this campaigning work and that we want media commissioning negotiations in future to result in outcomes that are fair for both parties – a (match) score that is fair for all.
Kevin Sargent, Chair of the Ivors Academy Media Council and Fair Score advisory group member:
“We believe that existing ‘pay to play’ scenarios, where audio-visual composers are expected to part with their future income streams as a condition of being offered a job are unfair and ultimately discriminatory. Fair Score is committed to educating composers and commissioners alike in promoting fair and sustainable practice in music for the film, television and games sector.”
Claire Batchelor, Ivors Academy Senator and Fair Score advisory group member:
“Fair Score is a campaign that focuses on fairness. As composers, we are often single-person businesses or very small teams. It’s all too easy for us to be offered a raw deal from big companies, trying to etch away more and more of our rights and royalties. It’s important for us to raise awareness using this campaign to all composers who feel alone and underrepresented.”
Timo Baker, composer and Fair Score advisory group member:
“There has been a gradual erosion of composers’ rights, fees and royalty streams over the last two decades, driven by the greed of big corporations. Royalty income is a lifeline and financial imperative for most composers to be able to continue their careers in providing the voice, atmosphere and soul to our favourite movies, TV series and entertainment. Fair Score is here to shine a bright light on these issues.”
Richard Jacques, Ivor Novello Award-Winning, GRAMMY and BAFTA Nominated Composer:
“Copyright is the legal framework that serves both creators and commissioners of music. Fair Score is an important campaign that both educates and informs, ensuring that composers are treated fairly and that copyright is respected within fair and transparent negotiations. This ensures that everyone in the music ecosystem, where all parties depend on each other, are working in a fair environment.”
Mat Andasun, media composer and Vice Chair of The Ivors Academy Media Council:
“At the heart of the business of creating musical works is the concept of royalties – an opportunity for everyone involved to have a share of the works’ success if it sells. It is an elegant and fair solution to the problem of how to share risk and reward. The right to a royalty income as a creator has been hard fought for since the invention of the printing press.
Royalties have sustained the livelihoods of countless numbers of media composers for over a hundred years. Throughout that same period, there have been individuals and companies who have sought to undermine the rights and take those royalties away. They present themselves as disruptors or try to argue that their negotiations are part of an unavoidable new world; but in reality, they are merely the latest in a long line of chancers who want to take what is not rightfully theirs. Fair Score is here to both highlight and prevent such practices.”