Discovery Networks, parent company of Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV and Animal Planet (among others) is moving towards a “direct license” format, essentially cutting out music composers’ residuals. This was a long-standing policy at Scripps Networks and was rumored to be implemented at Discovery after the $12 billion Scripps acquisition last year.
Discovery has been notifying production music companies that beginning in 2020, they must forego all performance royalties for U.S. broadcasts (collected by ASCAP, BMI and SESAC), in addition to signing away any right to collect performance royalties on previously broadcast shows on Discovery Networks.
Traditionally, domestic royalties make up 80%-90% of the total performance royalty stream for such programming. Networks can often pay music vendors little (if any) upfront monies in favor of bountiful performance royalties as the shows air.
This decrease in royalties would be nothing short of a financial disaster for composers who work on Discovery Networks content. Estimates place the annual performance license of Discovery at $25 million, which is a small percentage of Discovery’s most recent quarterly revenue estimate of $2.68 billion.
Many people are hopeful for a fair resolution. Industry heavyweights Russell Emmanuel (Extreme Music) and David Vanacore (Vanacore Music) have spoken to Variety on record to condemn this initiative. Vanacore (among other established composers) have formed www.yourmusicyourchoice.com , an outreach portal designed to engage new composers on the potential pitfalls of direct licensing deals.
Stay tuned to ProductionMusicNews.com for updates as this story unfolds.