PMA’s Update on Discovery Networks & Performance Rights
Status update as of January 23, 2020:
Dear Creative Community,
Some very good news. We have been informed today by Discovery Networks that in regard to performance rights, Discovery has decided that their US channels will remain operating as is under the traditional PRO performing rights model. The PMA would like to personally thank Shawn White and everyone at 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.
If anyone has any questions, please email them to Morgan McKnight, Executive Director of the Production Music Association, who will collate them so we can get responses from Discovery and get back to you. Morgan’s email is email@example.com.
Thank you very much.
December 19, 2019
The Production Music Association (PMA) represents hundreds of music libraries containing works by tens of thousands of composers and it is our mission to preserve and protect the value of music.
Discovery Networks has informed many of its top libraries and composers of changes to its licensing model that would deeply impact the livelihoods of composers creating or supplying music for Discovery’s programming. In the current model that Discovery operates under, all composers are compensated by their performing rights organizations for performances on Discovery networks. It is reported that Discovery is moving away from this model, working to buy out future performance revenue for many of its programs, valuing those rights dramatically below PRO rates. A number of libraries have also reached out to us regarding Discovery’s no sync/back end performance rev share deals requests.
Status update as of December 19, 2019: Discovery reached out to us yesterday and stated that they would like to assure the music community that they are committed to providing compensation to music providers for music in Discovery programming, that they will be continuing to operate under the PRO model for all current and past programming and that music providers will continue receiving royalties through the PRO’s for such programming. They also stated that they will evaluate new programs on a case-by-case basis based on the creative needs of the programs.
While we appreciate the statement regarding fair compensation and current and past programming, we strongly believe that the PRO model is the best way to ensure that music providers receive the fair value for their creative work and do not understand what “providing compensation” and “evaluating new programs based on the creative needs of the programs” truly means nor do we support this vague approach.
Discovery Networks is one of the world’s largest global media conglomerates, with annual revenue topping $10 billion and is a company built on quality intellectual property. We share the industry’s surprise and shock that they would be willing to impose such a policy on publishers, composers and songwriters who are an essential part of the programming they create and market. At the same time, Discovery’s CEO earned combined salary and stock compensation last year of $129 million.
This shortsighted effort by Discovery circumvents the 100-year-old system whereby composers are compensated for the use of their music in broadcast media and undermines the ecosystem of world-class writers, musicians, mixers, assistants and others who rely on these revenue streams to be able to continue to supply the music that has enriched worldwide television programming since TV’s earliest days. These changes take advantage of libraries and composers who either don’t know better or who have no choice, they create a dangerous precedent and they have the potential to decimate composer livelihoods, potentially reducing revenue from Discovery programs by upwards of 80-90%.
Here is how it looks to one composer:
“I’ve contributed music to Discovery’s most successful and long-running shows and the Discovery Music Source library consistently for close to 10 years. I’ve devoted countless hours to their projects and have done my best to support their creative vision with my music.
Even if I were willing to work for a company which shows such little appreciation and respect for those of us who have devoted our lives to mastering our craft, I simply could not afford to take the work under these terms.”
The PMA is aligning with other music advocacy organizations around the world and has requested a meeting with Discovery to urge them to value its creative partnership with music creators and suppliers rather than asking for music for free, undermining long established income streams and demanding royalties on songs it didn’t create and doesn’t own. We believe that Discovery’s new practices are simply wrong and need to change.
We are actively engaged on this important matter and will do everything we can to help preserve the value of music. We would like to give a special acknowledgment to Your Music, Your Future for their efforts in highlighting these vital issues www.yourmusicyourfuture.com.
Please contact Morgan McKnight (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to contribute in any way to helping us defend the value of music.