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Fair Score Signals New Phase of Composers Against Buyouts Campaign

Explore what Composers Against Buyouts has achieved in the last two years, and why we're taking on the next phase of the campaign under the new banner Fair Score.

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By Kelly Wood Published: 01 June 2023 | 4:14 PM Updated: 14 December 2023 | 1:58 PM
"Fair Score is a campaign that focuses on fairness". Image credit: Stocksy.

In March 2021 when the UK government had just published the roadmap that would take us out of the third national Covid-19 lockdown, the MU and the Ivors Academy expanded their umbrella Keep Music Alive campaign beyond streaming and into the world of media composition.

The Composers Against Buyouts campaign was launched with the ultimate aim of ending the practice of coercive buyouts in the media commissioning space, with the fantastic support of a campaign advisory group including members of each organisation.

What the campaign has accomplished in the past two years

Initially conceived as an industry engagement and information campaign, during the last two years we have:

  • Organised two music and broader creative industry roundtables at which buyouts and associated concerns have been discussed
  • Run member webinars for media composers covering how to price your work and negotiation skills
  • Arranged for the campaign to have a presence at events including Output Belfast, The Great Escape, the Children’s Media Conference, Sensoria and SXSW
  • Have met with commissioners and, in recent months, moved the campaign into the political domain by way of a Westminster Hall debate on “Songwriters and Composers: Remuneration” and ministerial roundtable meetings.

Two years in, as well as taking stock of what we have achieved, we have also been looking at the extent to which the campaign focus has broadened to include other issues of fairness in the media commissioning world (eg: pitching processes, improving diversity, increasing transparency).

Today at Output Belfast, we have relaunched the campaign as Fair Score

We’ve taken the opportunity to consider how we might address concerns about the lack of nuance in the original campaign name and whilst it has served us well, it is now restricting other organisations’ (and some composers’) ability to get involved.

So today at Output Belfast, we have relaunched the campaign as Fair Score.

This new name reflects the fact that the campaign will continue to work towards fairness in the round and will respond to all the pressures being faced by our media composer members. The musical score lies at the heart of this campaigning work, and we want media commissioning negotiations in future to result in outcomes that are fair for both parties - a (match) score that is fair for all.

"Fair Score is a campaign that focuses on fairness"

Composer Timo Baker says: “There has been a gradual erosion of composers' rights, fees and royalty streams over the last two decades, driven by the greed of big corporations.

“Royalty income is a lifeline and financial imperative for most composers to be able to continue their careers in providing the voice, atmosphere and soul to our favourite movies, tv series and entertainment. The Fair Score campaign is here to shine a bright light on these issues”

Composer Claire Batchelor says: “Fair Score is a campaign that focuses on fairness. As composers we are often single person businesses or very small teams. It’s all too easy for us to be offered a raw deal from big companies, trying to etch away more and more of our rights and royalties.

“It’s important for us to raise awareness using this campaign to all composers who feel alone and underrepresented”.

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