An education campaign created in the United States to inform creators on the growing practice of copyright buyouts is being extended globally with a new online resource, “Your Music Your Future International”.
Composers and songwriters for film, television and other audiovisual media have depended for more than a century on a ‘typical deal’ which allows them to collect royalty income in exchange for granting their copyrights to broadcasters, digital streaming services and other users of their works.
Today, across the globe, that 100-year precedent is increasingly being challenged by companies who insist that composers accept buyouts of their rights (including performing rights) as a condition of being employed or commissioned for a project. In this scenario, composers are expected to create music in exchange for a one-time fee instead of receiving continuing income for their work.
The works of songwriters and composers (just as of screenwriters and directors) are an invaluable and inextricable part of the storytelling in film, TV and all other audiovisual media. Traditionally, royalty income has been the only dependable source of earnings for these creators. The growing practice of buying out their rights (including performing rights) changes the remuneration equation with important implications for creators’ careers.
To raise awareness of this global issue for creators, a new international education resource is now being made available, bringing together the US music creators’ movement Your Music Your Future and CISAC, the global confederation of authors societies with 230 members in over 120 countries and territories.
Your Music Your Future was founded by composers, for composers in the US in 2019 and is dedicated to educating fellow creators about their options for compensation and the ramifications of their choices, including accepting total buyouts of their work. The campaign is strictly educational, taking no sides in the debate, and has built a community of more than 15,000 members.
With the help of CISAC, the campaign is now being extended to help educate composers and songwriters across the world. A new website, Your Music Your Future International, covers topics including the options of royalties vs buyouts, the typical use of buyout clauses in contracts and the different laws governing buyouts internationally. The initiative is also supported by CIAM, the International Council of Music Creators.
CISAC President, Abba co-founder, Björn Ulvaeus says: “In the post-COVID world, the issue of copyright buyouts matters more to creators than ever before. Artists, composers and authors have to be aware of their rights, understand their options and make informed choices on the way they are paid. Their future livelihoods depend on it”.
Your Music Your Future founder, composer Joel Beckerman said: “This is a movement, for composers by composers, to educate our community on the choices with respect to performing royalties. The aim is to bring this vital educational message to all music creators everywhere. As music creators we are all in this together, and education is the key to ensuring their ability to support their families and put food on the table”.
CISAC Director-General Gadi Oron said: “Copyright buyouts are a growing concern for creators and for CISAC societies which represent them and protect their interests. By partnering with Your Music Your Future, CISAC helps fill the information gap and provide a practical and useful educational resource about buy-out contracts and creators remuneration. This should assist creators in making an informed decision about contracts they’re offered and their options”.
Key topics on the website include:
- what are total buyouts?
- why buyouts are becoming more prevalent
- how “buyout clauses” work in contracts
- royalties vs lump sum: weighing up the options
- varying laws surrounding total buyouts in different regions and territories
- how creators can raise awareness for greater legal protection of their works
Eddie Schwartz, President, International Council of Music Creators (CIAM): “Ongoing royalty streams from the uses of my songs, and performing rights revenues in particular, are a mainstay of my livelihood. I certainly understand the attraction of accepting a lump sum payment instead of any future royalty income, but it is a decision creators must consider very carefully. Your Music Your Future is a great place to gather the crucial information that will allow music creators to make an informed choice, and one that may well affect them profoundly for years to come.”
Annette Barrett, President, Independent Music Publishers International Forum (IMPF): “The new global educational initiative from Your Music Your Future and CISAC is very welcome. Educating composers and songwriters on their rights, what they’re due, how the payment system of royalties works, and how changes to a once-off payment model can be detrimental to their entire career, and remuneration, is vitally important; IMPF fully supports CISAC and any such effort in this regard.”
CISAC – the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers – is the world’s leading network of authors’ societies (also referred to as Collective Management Organisations, or CMOs). CISAC protects the rights and represents the interests of creators worldwide. With 230 member societies in 121 countries, CISAC represents over four million creators of music, audio-visual, drama, literature, and visual arts.