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#1159751 - 12/18/19 11:58 PM "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog  
Joined: Dec 2006
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Gary E. Andrews Offline
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Gary E. Andrews  Offline
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Portsmouth, Ohio, USA
Shelley Peiken, a Songwriter, posted a timely and cogent blog:
Beware The Buyout! December 18, 2019
I’m sure you’ve all heard rumblings of an uptick in something called “direct licensing” or “buyouts” where a composer is paid a one-time (upfront) fee by a television streaming service or production company for all rights to their work. “Direct licensing” might seem like a more appealing term than “buyout” but the latter is more telling of the cold hard truth: a buyout, unlike the more typical “work-for-hire contract” where songwriters and composers still receive future (back-end) performance royalties, takes it all…even our writer’s share.
This used to be unheard of. The writer’s share of income has always been sacred. If you’re anything like me your eyes are glazing over from all the economic obstacles in the way of JUST WANTING TO MAKE ART…(for a living, of course). As if it weren’t enough that digital delivery has hijacked the lion’s share of our income now we have this to fend off. It’s truly a game of whack a mole. 
We’re living on crumbs and now they want to take the crumbs! 
Michelle Lewis, Executive Director of SONA (Songwriters of North America), says “100% buyouts are an existential threat to composers if they start to become the norm. We can’t let that happen.” 
But it’s already happening…especially to younger composers. According to former ASCAP Executive Brendan Okrent, “Direct licensing is not really a new thing, but with streaming services gaining so much power, it rears its head with a bit more zeal lately especially with new writers who are afraid to pass up work or complain about the terms for fear of being blacklisted.” 
Typically, composers are paid two-fold. In a “work-for-hire” an up-front flat fee covers expenses for recording and producing music: this includes hiring musicians and singers, renting studios and equipment, mixing, engineering, mastering. Often this entire fee is exhausted by the time the score is finished. The back-end writer’s royalties however, are where he or she can earn a living because they’re generated every time a show (and score) is aired and repeated on the screen, in a public place, on a stage, at a bar. So even though a production company may own the copyright to the work (and already receive half of the performance royalties), the composer still shares in the future “performance” income. In a direct license there is no more back-end.
On Dec 11th Billboard ran a piece calling out Netflix and other streaming services for their efforts to upend how composers are compensated for their work. Composers started speaking out about their experience and some even defended Netflix. One Songwriter/Composer/SONA member, who wished to remain anonymous says, “Netflix is actually changing for the better. In my recent experiences with them, they will offer the option of a buyout, however they are clear that you do not have to agree to it. They do attempt to make it a large enough number where someone will be swayed to take it.” 
Another music industry source reported that in his recent dealings, “Netflix made an initial overture of a buyout and then essentially capitulated. They will do that for A-listers.” Ok, but what about the B-listers? Is that code for the young and less experienced? Weren’t we all B-listers once?Variety ran a subsequent piece that confirmed the exploitative strategy but seemed to point the finger more directly at Discovery Network — which owns Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, HGTV and Food Network — pay-channels that use a lot more production music and have taken the approach that if composers don’t accept their buyout deal — 100% of the publishing and domestic writer’s share — not only do they not get the job, but any of their prior cues will be replaced retroactively with music the network owns. This would cut composer and songwriter income by 90% as of December 31st. Happy New Year.
Jess Furman, Sr. Creative Director for Sound Revolver / VP of Synch for Big Noise Music and SONA board member feels that we should '“come up with a rating system … like products that are labeled “organic” or “cage-free” etc — only productions/networks that don’t try to bully their creatives into giving up all their rights would get a stamp of approval.” Don’t get me wrong, Netflix or Discovery, pushy or not, even if you’re merely asking for it, it’s still an obvious corporate money grab. 
SONA has been rallying to take action alongside several other high powered music composers who started a campaign called Your Music Your Future which is getting the word out to young composers not to take buyout deals. The campaign informs the media composing community of their rights and the possible ramifications of giving up the traditional “writer’s share” of royalties. More than 4,000 music-makers have signed up to support the initiative. I signed it. 
I feel like we’re living in a what-can-I-get-away-with culture. Ethics are disintegrating. Greed is rampant. Bullying is trending. So much for Being Best. 😳If this tactics is followed by yet more media outlets, making a living as a composer will eventually become impossible. And as a viewer, your favorite series may start to sound generic, your experience cheapened.
If you’re a concerned creator (and have a Twitter account) Please Tweet this: 
@Discovery Networks found a way to cut your income by 90%. R/T if u think composers should be paid fairly. (read here) https://bit.ly/2qZ423k #DiscoveryGreed  @Gold_Rush @DeadliestCatch @StreetOutlaws #yourmusicyourfuture @urmusicurfuture Sign Your Music Your Future.We need to stick together. Protect each other.And the #MUSICARMY marches on.  
🙏for reading. If you'd like to receive my blog via email or be notified when my new MUSIC comes out please click here. Pick up a copy of the GRAMMY Nominated “Confessions of a Serial Songwriter.” Visit my Serial Songwriter Facebook Page and give it a Like.


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#1159764 - 12/19/19 08:39 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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Everett Adams  Online Content
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The rich want to get richer so they will steal where ever they can and there are a lot of poor people compared to rich people so lets steal from them the little they have. Welcome to the world of greed. What well known songwriter died with 36 cents in his pocket while others became rich using his music, was it Stephen Foster?. That is when they brought in one cent royalties for using music so this travesty would never happen again. We are working our way back to that again.

#1159770 - 12/19/19 09:37 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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Fdemetrio Online content
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I think If anybody has any kernel of a chance of making it in songwriting, they will probably have to give away songs just to break the ice. Unless you have a Bohemian Rhapsody or Hotel California in your catalogue, they probably dont NEED your song anyway, they would be doing you a favor using your song for free.

If you are lucky enough to get exposure from that song you gave away, it might open a door for you.

I have written probably 500 songs or more since day one, if anybody wants one for free, you got it buddy, just give me credit!

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 12/19/19 09:42 AM.
#1159775 - 12/19/19 10:31 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Well,
Selling rights to a work you created probably requires some education on your part. Don't leave it to others because they will most likely take advantage of you not because they want to but they can't do your work for you. If selling some right to your work make sure that right is spelled out in the contract. Not only in music but Photography and Scripts as well. An oz. of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Ray E. Strode
#1159776 - 12/19/19 10:34 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Fdemetrio Online content
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Fdemetrio  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Well,
Selling rights to a work you created probably requires some education on your part. Don't leave it to others because they will most likely take advantage of you not because they want to but they can't do your work for you. If selling some right to your work make sure that right is spelled out in the contract. Not only in music but Photography and Scripts as well. An oz. of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


lol. Now Ive changed my mind, NOBODY gets a song for free from me...ya hear?????

#1159777 - 12/19/19 10:51 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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Gary E. Andrews Offline
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Gary E. Andrews  Offline
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Portsmouth, Ohio, USA
A good place to start when transitioning from creative hobbyist to commercial endeavor, is www.copyright.gov .
Knowing how to 'claim' and Register your 'right' to 'copy' your Intellectual Property enables you with 'legal' standing under federal law.

Most of us start as hobbyists, just writing because the spirit moves us, or we think we've found a clever way to say something and have put it in Lyrical form, to the extent we know how. Developing 'know-how', by formal study, might be our next tactical step, studying our own works, studying other people's works, reading books on Songwriting. And we may even explore a musical instrument to give us a medium for bringing a Lyric to a higher quality-of-competence for communicating its virtues to listeners.

But the commercial aspects are likely the last thing we 'study', if we 'study' it at all. More likely is that we're out there on the stage, presenting our art, perhaps with no idea of monetary value, 'ownership', or 'market potential', or the long plastic hallway Hunter Thompson warned about. We'll put a locking gas cap on our cars, because we know thieves are out there, but we're less protective of our art. We don't suspect thieves who wear suits and rob you with a fountain pen.

Someone expressed it as, "Don't wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting." TV Public Service Announcements used to say, "The More You Know." Being 'educated' to the degree possible enables you to help yourself and help anyone else you need in your journey to market, your lawyer, and you should know you need one, your management, the people who ask you to sign your name agreeing to terms of a contract 'they' wrote for the purpose. 'They' know what's in the contract, and how your signature, as an adult, legally commits you to abiding by it. They know about a 'conversion clause' and you may never have heard of it. They know how Royalties are paid, Publishing Royalties, Songwriting Royalties, Synchronization Licensing, and contracts.

'They' have a whole business, a company, with offices and secretaries and other employees, and connections, so it seems like they have all the power. Your power is that you 'own' a product you created, out of your own mind, that has value in a marketplace, and they want it. If they could have created something as good they would, and do. They know where the money comes from and try to monopolize 'ownership', pushing the Songs THEY own, so all control and Royalties will flow back to them. But they're not as good as you, naive, creative, able to express love stories and party realities as subject-matter for your Lyric, maybe able to set your words to music in appealing ways, unique and not sounding manufactured like theirs. So they desire your product. There's a demand for your product. They want to get in on the profit earned by supplying that demand. They may try to get you to sign away your 'whole' company, writing it into a contract you may read but may not comprehend the full range of its wording and what it implies for the 'ownership' you have, until you sign.

"If you are thinking one-hundred years ahead, Educate The People." Kuan Tzu said that.
Educate Yourself. I said that.


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#1159779 - 12/19/19 10:55 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Well FD,
There is nothing wrong with giving someone your work for free but be sure to give it in writing to protect yourself and the other party. My former Publisher has at least 3 songs out there that are being used but because he didn't do his homework he has nothing to show for it!


Ray E. Strode
#1159781 - 12/19/19 11:07 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Fdemetrio Online content
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Fdemetrio  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Well FD,
There is nothing wrong with giving someone your work for free but be sure to give it in writing to protect yourself and the other party. My former Publisher has at least 3 songs out there that are being used but because he didn't do his homework he has nothing to show for it!


Well im sure there's a smidgen of a percent of a chance that any song you give away becomes a monster hit and pays you big. Another smidgen, that it makes ANYTHING. and then 98 and a smidgen percent chance it makes nothing. I agree get it in writing, that you have to be at LEAST credited.

#1159783 - 12/19/19 11:13 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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PA
I've had some buy-outs, but it doesn’t fit Shelley Peiken’s definition of buy-outs. The buy-outs I’ve had are nothing more than allowing the client continued use of the buy-out music. Rather than a one-time use, the client can use it for future projects. Of course, the client usually pays 5X’s the single use license (which is a good thing for us). I still receive ASCAP royalties, and the publisher can still license this music to other clients. So, this kind of buy-out is a plus for the composer.

John smile

#1159802 - 12/19/19 05:36 PM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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PA
Also, the buy-out client is still responsible for turning in cue sheets for all future projects (that require cue sheets). The biggest problem in the tv/film music industry is having cue sheets turned in. Tunesat estimates that 80% of cue sheets aren’t filled.

John smile

#1159817 - 12/20/19 08:38 AM Re: "Beware The Buyout" Shelley Peiken Blog [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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In the late 90's, I attended a very high powered panel discussion with major labels, publishers, producers, artists and writers. Also on the panel were two "tech guys" talking about this thing coming called "THE INTERWEB." It was highly contentious, but mostly talked about the revolution coming and how it would benefit everyone by being able to get music worldwide. Toward the end, one of the tech guys said "But in the future, songwriters will have to get used to not having royalties, because they won't be there."

From that moment, the industry changed, with everything being centered on the artist, everything done in house, and the focus on the songs becoming secondary to the popularity of the artist and ARTIST BRANDING. Everything we see, is living up to that. "Buy outs" are going to be the coming thing and songwriters can try to educate or band together, but when you have a supply that vastly exceeds any demand, you are going to either have to adapt to it, or end your involvement. The industry and the public, no longer HAVE to HAVE any of us. If you don't like it, you can not play.

Like everything, "visability is viability" and if you have songs that are EVERYWHERE, around artists that are EVERYWHERE, you will probably do well. If not, you probably won't. Like most in the modern era, no one HAS to play. If you don't like the rules, don't.

MAB


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