Are buyouts the only way forward for young composers? Think again, says Your Music Your Future/UBC/CISAC panel
What’s the best deal for a young composer licencing their music to a broadcaster or digital platform? Traditionally, royalties have been the way to build your career, but increasingly, music creators are getting asked to sign over their rights for a single lump sum payment.
This was the question at the heart of a discussion panel “Royalties vs Buyouts”, bringing together the global education campaign Your Music Your Future, Brazil’s music society UBC and CISAC, the global confederation of authors societies.
Moderated by UBC’s Peter Strauss, experts discussed the growing global phenomenon of buyouts and the pressure on composers, desperate to get ahead in their career, to accept them. Composer Joel Beckerman, who founded the composer-led YMYF information campaign in the US, highlighted many options that are available to composers instead of accepting a buyout. But creators need to find out about them – and that’s what Your Music Your Future is all about.
“Performance royalties allow composers to earn a small royalty which are in direct association with your contribution to the work. Buyouts essentially mean you get one lump sum fee up front, and you never see a penny after that.”
“These are the choices for composers, and there are many things you can do to understand your rights. This is a career, and if you want to have a career and not just a gig, you need to be knowledgeable and not just accept what’s been put in front of you.”
Buyouts have rapidly become a global issue, helped by the growth of powerful global streaming services. Despite the patchwork of different legal environments, composers – and the societies representing them – are dealing with the same issues around the world. CISAC and UBC, along with the global community of CMOs, have a key role to play supporting members, advising them on their rights and raising awareness of their options.
Cristina Perpiñá-Robert Navarro, CISAC’s Director of Legal Affairs outlined the confederation’s legal guidelines and analysis of the different legal frameworks around the world. This led to CISAC’s partnership with Your Music Your Future. With a developed composer-led campaign already running in the US, CISAC has helped societies adapt the campaign for creators in their own territories – led, far, by France, Spain, Finland, Portugal and Brazil.
Young composers are vulnerable and may not know their rights – that makes the role of authors’ societies and global support all the more important, says Cristina Perpiñá-Robert Navarro.
“When creators face buyout provisions in contracts, many of them don’t want to object to these clauses, they fear being blacklisted, so it’s important to get the message out that there are other options. And this is what collective management was made for – it gives the creators a strong bargaining position. The reason why buyouts are easy to enforce is they are dealing with young composers who are vulnerable.”
Marisa Gandelman, copyright expert and former head of UBC, observed the impact of buyouts in the Brazil market. The traditional performing rights royalty deal is increasingly being supplanted in the streaming world by imposed buyouts that are unfavourable to composers. The approach is: “I pay you very little and you give me the music and forget about your existence. It’s a confusing situation. This is why we want our composers to go together with Your Music Your Future.”
Brazilian lawyer Ygor Valerio added further analysis of the economic and other factors driving the increased practice of buyouts in Brazil and elsewhere.
A recording of the panel, attended by 190 creators, music sector representatives and policy makers, is here.