TV Networks That Pay Performance Royalties

Thanks to Music1234 for this spreadsheet. Please leave your comments if you have any information on networks/channels that we can designate as paying, or not paying, performance royalties. I will update the spreadsheet.

41 thoughts on “TV Networks That Pay Performance Royalties”

  1. The bottom line is, the networks that don’t pay performance income are claiming they have enough direct licenses to cover all of their music. They actually show the contracts the libraries have signed that include the direct licenses to the PROs. I have confirmed this with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.
    If writers are not getting paid, they need to bring it up with the libraries they wrote for – not the PROs. The PROs require if a licensor issue a direct license, they need to let the PRO know. That’s in the contract that publishers and composers sign with the PRO. Remember, the libraries are not able to receive any publishing performance income either. They do these deals for (1) the upfront money (2) in case they show is broadcast or streamed outside of the network they were produced for so they can receive that income and (3) to get the relationships. Some production companies produce content for shows that air on both non-paying networks and paying networks. For instance, a house might produce for Discovery (who owns Scripps) and Discovery’s networks that do pay. Also, it’s not just libraries doing the direct licenses. Composers who create theme songs also issue direct licenses. I personally know of 2 of them. Same deal – Upfront money, syndication which allows distribution off the non-paying channel and relationships. The PROs are just as frustrated because they cannot collect income from that network unless the network pays them a blanket license (and remember they get a big percentage of the publisher and composer royalty income).

    • More of a reason why this issue needs to be escalated to lawmakers who can re-write the rules to protect rights holders. The situation now is this: Artist spends time creating a piece of intellectual property that has value to a TV network. The only path to renting the intellectual property is through a publisher. Publisher signs a direct license deal giving TOTAL ACCESS to all PRO REGISTERED works in their library. Library makes a profit. TV Network apparently saves a small chunk of cash because the only reason they do this would be to avoid paying PRO’s annual blanket license fees which may be more expensive than direct license blanket deals.

      Artist earns NOTHING as original supplier of the music product TV Network “rents”.

      But here is the real crime here: These TV networks owned by Warner, Discovery, Disney, CBS Viacom, FOX – These are the “big 5” – they are getting away with picking and choosing which channels (DIY, GAC, Food Network, HGTV, ESPN, etc.) do NOT pay PRO’s and others do have to pay PRO’s – ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, MTV, CNN, (See list above)

      This loophole and backdoor deal needs to be closed because Artists are getting screwed! Again! As always! When the Fudge does this stop?

      Also, why is it that we get paid performance royalties for TV spot usages on these networks and not background cue usages?

      None of this ads up.

      Are you guys lobbying ASCAP, BMI, SESAC to raise awareness about this issue? Are you e-mailing links to this thread to all PRO board members, the President of each PRO, and Your Reps at your PROS?

      If not, please take 5 minutes today and e-mail a link to this thread. We have to end this bogus practice. I am sick and tired of seeing hundreds of TUNESAT detections on these stations (that reach 90 million households)knowing that not even a penny is coming my way.

      It’s just wrong!

      • This is not a PRO issue. It’s all about what paperwork the composer signed with the library (or network directly in the case of custom music). If a composer wrote for a library or has a contract with one, they have to take it up with the library. If the composer is commissioned and the contract states they can do a direct license for the money they bought out your works, you signed your rights away. If your contract says they can do it, BUT they have to pay the composer from the upfront money they collect and they haven’t, the composer can take legal action. This is not a PRO issue.

        • I have to disagree with you. The PRO’s job is to collect performance royalties of PRO registered music when it is broadcast to the public on television networks. The Big five conglomerates I mentioned seem to want their cake and eat it too.

          Artists can “direct license” music if they want to. I agree with that. They can engage in “buy outs” and “Work for hires”.

          Most of us signed with libraries like JP and SK and M so that they’d feed the cues to TV shows and we’d get paid on the back end. We know that they have packaged up 200,000 to 1,000,000 titles and are now selling “Direct License” blanket deals to these conglomerates who get away with avoiding the PRO issue on “some” of their networks.

          This is just wrong dachtyl.

          The Artist is NOT getting paid, yet these 5 corporate conglomerates are getting our music form libraries who are also profiting.

          I don’t give a shet what the contract says, there probably are a couple of tucked away sentences that give the library a chance at these sleezy deals without accounting back to writers.

          It’s just wrong and it needs to stop immediately because this precedent can really spin out of control and disrupt the entire business as we know it.

          Do you agree that Artists should be getting paid for TV broadcast performances on TV networks owned by these big 5 conglomerates? I am seeing Tunesat scenarios where it looks like my music is underscoring 25% of the entire show and I am not getting paid a single cent. This is simply wrong!

          • I agree that it’s wrong. I agree that artists should get paid for public performance income. I am not being antagonistic. I also agree that if you signed an agreement allowing a third party to enter your cues into a direct license without paying to you, that is a terrible choice. It’s a choice that was made by so many composers for so long, that the genie is out of the bottle. So is rev-share, but that’s another topic.

            The contract between the writer and the PRO states that if the PRO has income from a source, it will pay for the public performance. If it does not have the income – the network doesn’t pay them – they can’t pay out of money they do not have. Which sector that paid them would you suggest them taking it from?

            “I don’t give a shet what the contract says, there probably are a couple of tucked away sentences that give the library a chance at these sleezy deals without accounting back to writers.”

            Sadly if composers miss that fine print and sign, this is what gives the network the leverage to tell the PROs they don’t have to pay a broadcast blanket license – because the music they are broadcasting is already covered under a direct performance license by publishers and composers who waived their rights. If the contract you signed did not allow the libraries you mentioned to do this, without being the bank (internal PRO) and paying you your estimated earned performance income in quarterly or bi-annual checks, you have a legal case with the library. In fact, you could get out of your deal for breach and go to someone that holds a higher value in the market.

            I have heard a lot of my music on Netflix, DIY and HGTV and have never seen a penny from the library that commissioned me to write for them and those contracts actually stated that they are supposed to pay me. The crappy thing is, I would have to deal with the headache of trying to pursue legal action and I don’t want to deal with it over 60 cues. I won’t write for them again.

            I am also saddened by composers or artists who give their music to companies on a gratis license, hoping the backend will make it worth it. I have seen enough statements for over 20 years as both a publisher as well as a composer, to know that will put a composer out of business. I think the best ammunition is education and the willingness to hold back your value for someone who will pay for it. Same with decent contracts. I’ve seen plenty that will – enough to have made a living for some time now.

            I think you mentioned something about commercials paying while BG cues aren’t? That is from a different pot paid by the network to the PROs.

            I hear you and I am with you on this, I am only pointing out the facts in the hopes that it will educate others following this thread not to enter into these deals and that will actually help the PROs. The offerings to the networks will be smaller and crappy, forcing them to seek better music. The problem again is that there are too many composers willing to do these things because they don’t know better. I also think composers need to reporting the issue to their PRO when they hear their music. We are all supposed to, contractually if we didn’t waive our rights and are not being paid. At the end of the day though, the PRO will point the problem back to the library that issued the DL and they will be right. It’s happened to me. Cutting them out, hurts them too.

            So what can composers do to fix this? Don’t enter into deals that allow it. Hold libraries that are supposed to be paying you directly, accountable and make a stink. Circulate a petition against them. Tie them up with legal headaches and a hassle. Notify your PRO each and every time it happens.

            • You clearly offer great wisdom on this issue and we do agree on a lot. I too am a big fan of increased education because the lack of it, is certainly not helping writers’ working conditions and compensation. Let’s study the potential “hole” in this contract that allows for “NO PAY TO WRITERS” under these BLANKET Direct License (access to entire library) deal with HGTV, ESPN, DIY, GAC, Food Network, etc….When most of signed our deals 12 years back, we all understood that we’d earn 50% of all direct licenses sold, where if our music was licensed into a project, tv spot, show, corporate video, movie, radio spot, etc…., we’d get 50% of the sync fee, and all the “writers share” of the performance royalties paid by PRO’s. The concept of “BLANKET DIRECT LICENSING” (of the entire music library to DIY, HGTV, GAC, ESPN, etc) was not really clarified during the 2008 to 2014 era. What do you think? Read below:

              9. Compensation to Licensor for a Direct License.
              (a) music publisher hereby agrees to pay to Licensor, as provided in Section 14 below, Fifty percent (50%) of any up-front fee paid by a Third Party User and received by music publisher for the Direct License of a specified Track (such fee, a “Direct License Fee”), upon the terms and conditions
              set forth herein. Without limiting the rights granted to music publisher in Sections 2 and 3 above, Licensor hereby agrees and acknowledges that the amount of any Direct License Fees charged to Third Document Integrity Verified EchoSign Transaction Number: XENFLXQ8XV97C2B

              5 Party Users and the terms of such Direct License shall be determined by music publisher in its sole discretion, subject to the rights granted to music publisher pursuant to this Agreement.

              10. Collection of Gross Administrative Receipts. music publisher shall collect all Gross Administrative Receipts earned by and derived from the Licensed Tracks pursuant to or as a result of any Licensed Use in perpetuity. “Gross Administrative Receipts” is defined as any and all revenue
              (other than Direct License Fees) derived from any such Licensed Use (less amounts paid to or deducted by sub publishers, sub licensees, agents, collection agencies, local performing and mechanical rights societies, applicable taxing authorities and any insurance or commission payments), and
              includes, without limitation, fees paid by third parties (including Third Party Users) (i) in connection with music supervision, research and curation services provided by music publisher; and (ii) in connection with any license to exploit a specific quantity of the Tracks together with other master recordings (and the compositions embodied therein) not owned or controlled by the Licensor (so called “blanket fees”); provided, however, that music publisher shall not collect any so-called “songwriter royalties” or any “writer’s share” of public performance income payable to Licensor, or such other royalties as specified below.

              In no event shall music publisher be responsible for the payment or collection of any third party royalties or other payments, including but not limited to songwriter royalties or the “writer’s share” of any royalties or other payments with respect to any Track, and Licensor shall only look to music publisher for the payment of such Direct License Fees received by music publisher as provided in Section 9(a) above. Licensor shall be solely responsible to monitor or
              engage in the maintenance or procurement of a valid license from ASCAP, BMI or any other performing rights society, and music publisher expressly disclaims any obligation to do so.

              11. Allocation of Gross Administrative Receipts.

              For its services hereunder, music publisher shall retain and be paid all of the Gross Administrative Receipts derived from the Licensed Tracks for the life of the subject use, which shall include, without limitation, the “publisher’s share”
              and “publisher royalties” of public performance income.

              (b) Music Publisher shall maintain true and complete books and records concerning payments of Direct License Fees due to Licensor hereunder. At any time within one (1) year after any payment statement is rendered to Licensor hereunder, Licensor shall have the right to give Music Publisher written notice of Licensor’s intention to examine Music Publisher’s books and records with respect to such
              statement. Such examination shall be commenced within three (3) months after the date of such notice, at Licensor’s sole cost and expense, by any certified public accountant or attorney designated by Licensor, provided he (or any member or associate of the firm within which he is affiliated) is not then engaged in an outstanding examination of Music Publisher’ s books and records on behalf of a Person
              other than Licensor. Such examination shall be made during Music Publisher’s usual business hours at the
              place where Music Publisher maintains the books and records which relate to Licensor and the applicable
              Direct License Fees and which are necessary to verify the accuracy of the statement or statements specified in Licensor’s notice to Music Publisher and the examination shall be limited to the foregoing.

              Licensor’s right to inspect Music Publisher’s books and records shall be only as set forth in this Section
              14(b), and Music Publisher shall have no obligation to produce such books and records more than once
              with respect to each statement rendered to Licensor. Any Person conducting an examination pursuant to this Agreement shall execute a confidentiality agreement prior to conducting such examination, in form and substance as determined by Music Publisher, in its sole discretion.

              • Happy to take a crack at this but first, you say: The concept of “BLANKET DIRECT LICENSING” (of the entire music library to DIY, HGTV, GAC, ESPN, etc) was not really clarified during the 2008 to 2014 era.” This is not true. Libraries have been doing Direct Licenses since ESPN launched. Scripps followed their model. I’ve been in the library business since 1995 and small handful of libraries around at that time were doing them.

                Para 9 refers to “Sections 2 and 3 above” which is not included in your comment, so I’m not clear there. That being said, for the rest of the included agreement, here are the holes.

                9. “Licensor hereby agrees and acknowledges that the amount of any Direct License Fees charged to Third Document Integrity Verified EchoSign Transaction Number: XENFLXQ8XV97C2B”
                What in the world is that? And what “Fees” is it referring to?

                “5 Party Users and the terms of such Direct License shall be determined by music publisher in its sole discretion, subject to the rights granted to music publisher pursuant to this Agreement.”

                I don’t know what a 5 Party User is, but this implies that the publisher can grant a “gratis license” and if so, there will be no licensing income to share with the composers.

                10. “Collection of Gross Administrative Receipts.” This sentence: “(“less amounts paid to or deducted by sub publishers…. “in connection with music supervision, research and curation services provided by music publisher;”……

                Are they actually deducting an admin fee from your earnings for doing music searches for clients IN ADDITION TO the 50% they are taking automatically? YIKES!!!! If they charged a Direct License portion of a blanket fee, which was to be allocated to the composers, they could say their music director/playlist curation fee was equalled or exceeded what they collected.

                “Licensor shall only look to music publisher for the payment of such Direct License Fees received by music publisher as provided in Section 9(a) above. “

                Same comment as above about the publisher having the right to grant a gratis license. Composer can contact them about not getting paid, but they can claim the license fee was $1 and therefore only .50 is the 50% split among all tracks included in the deal. Total crap.

                11. Looks like you have a window to examine the books. I can’t see the terms under which they allow you to do that though. They mention Section 14(b)

                Can’t you withdraw your tracks from this deal and take your tracks to a contract that is more transparent – or sell them to a library that has a reputation for deals that have integrity? Sounds like they have great value since they are being used so much. Surely there is a window for termination?

                • Hi dachtyl,

                  It’s great to have your input here. I have no incentive to dismantle my deal with this publisher because they do produce results. Yes, I can get out whenever I want through written notice. I’d advocate to all writers to make sure you never sign perpetual deals. We all never know when we have to take our property back and move onto other opportunities.

                  Anyway, it just would be great if these networks would not by pass PRO’s and have the ability to buy BLANKET DIRECT LICENSES to gain access to an entire catalog. It’s just a shame. It’s a never ending war against music artists. Corporate America just does everything in their power to not pay music artists fairly, Spotify included. It’s an unconscionable way to profit (for the supplying library) and create cost savings (for cheap TV network).

                  I do not know what else to say, the practice just feels…well…unjust, disgusting, and wrong. Shows get our soundtracks, Library is paid, Show gets the music they need, Artist gets ….hmmm…NOTHGING! or “exposure!” LOL!

  2. Shows on networks that are owned by Scripps (DIY, HGTV, Travel, Food Network, etc.) generally don’t pay PRO, they do what’s called “direct licensing”. Interestingly “direct license” was originally created for the benefit of composers so that the PROs would not have a monopoly. Composers and publishers could go outside the PRO system and negotiate their own license deals. What happened was later on, music libraries started signing blanket deals with these shows (one fee for access to thousands of songs) and not sharing any of that money with their composers. So our songs pop up all over these channels and we don’t make a penny, at least not for US broadcast. International still pays PRO but it’s generally peanuts. Certain libraries are notorious for these deals.

    I’m not sure how it works, but some shows on a network like Scripps do pay PRO while most don’t. It could be a matter of whether it’s an outside, independent TV production company.

    • @Advice,

      “BTW, PRO money comes from TV production companies, not the networks. ”

      This is not true according to my sources. I had a face to face meeting with SESAC in Santa Monica, CA. two years ago and they told me point blank that TV networks pay the PROs to create the pot of royalty money for writers and publishers. This is logical. Disney (ABC), CBS/ Viacom, NBC Universal, and now the newly merged conglomerate which just happened today Warner and Discovery have merged…These are the companies that need to “rent music” to broadcast on their shows. They also collect all of the advertising revenue they sell, a percentage of their advertising revenue gets paid to the three USA PRO’s in the form of annual blanket license fees. This creates the pot of money to get distributed back to writers when their music is performed on air.

      The HGTV, DIY, Food Network, ESPN, BTN etc…workaround for these conglomerates still makes no sense. Bottom line: Artists are getting screwed in this back door deal with libraries selling blankets for access to the entire library, Cue sheets are not mandated, and writers are not getting paid at all.

      Everyone is benefitting nicely from this deal but the artists who supply the music. It is sickening. When you study the spreadsheet, pay attention to “number of households reached”. These TV networks are reaching close to 100 million households, only 15 to 20 million less than the Big networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX.

      • Blankets themselves are not the problem, it’s libraries doing blanket deals for direct license and sharing none of that revenue with composers. That revenue split wouldn’t be huge but it would at least be something. The only thing you can do as a composer, it’s not provide music to libraries that do this. But of course, for every one of you, there are 10,000 willing. I’m not sure direct licensing itself will go away (should it?) as it was really created to prevent PROs from having a monopoly. What we have here is more a perversion of it’s purpose.

      • Art,

        I stand corrected on HGTV. I watch House Hunters and always hear my music. Just checked the BMI statements. No payments.

        Why is this s***t even legal?

        • Write to the President and top executives and board members of BMI and ask that very question. This is the whole point of this thread. It would be nice if these networks (cooking channel, HGTV, DIY, WE atc….) paid performance royalties for all shows they air. Then again, why do they pay for TV spot performances, but not “in show” performances? Any opinions on Hallmark Channel?

          Also NY Composer, I have an opening theme of the local news on WPIX New York Channel 11. While this is “Local” , NYC also happens to be the largest city in the country with 15 million viewers as the total market size/ reach. The track opens the 7AM news, every single day. It will be interesting to see if my pro considers this. Any thoughts on that one?

          • Music1234,

            I speak to the Executive Office at BMI a few times a year. Their answer is very easy and convienent. They just say that BMI collects what the networks report. They can’t do much more. That’s total BS IMO. I truly believe it’s WHO you are at BMI, which determines payment amounts, etc.

            Do you think Danny Efman gets screwed on TV spots or ads? Is his team chasing down payments? No. All of our money is going to big time names.

            As far as Network payments. I got royaly screwed on a bunch of promos on CBS that played for 1:45. I got horrible payments for them. BMI looked into it and claimed the reason was that the Neilson ratings were low. Keep in mind that during the airings, the whole country was basically locked down and people stayed home. Poor ratings?… Uhhuhhh….

            • I don’t understand if Tunesat can capture every broadcast, why aren’t PRO using the same technology? This seems so simple. Also, why wait to get a payout every QUARTER? Technology can recognize songs instantly, and people can be paid instantly through Venmo and other services. It seems to me this industry is ripe for disruption…

              • Disruption is underway. BMAT detects and reports to many European PRO’s. I heard that some European PRO’s may eventually ignore manually produced “cue sheets” and rely solely on BMAT reports.

                Soundmouse detects and reports to PRO’s (ASCAP being one of them) but does not share the detection data with writers (They have data to hide from writers LOL!)

                Tunesat helps a lot but they do not pick up every station in every country. We still have a long way to go for full fingerprint detection transparency.

                Oh, and by the way, BMAT and Tunesat are not exactly cheap services for writers and publishers with larger catalogs.

                The entire business is designed to keep as much money away from artists as possible. Music Producers are ALWAYS the last to be paid in the food chain. We eat last. Always. Spotify, Apple and PRO’s eat first, Music Publishers eat second, writers eat left over scraps last. This is why I have said a million times ownership and control of your catalog is the only way forward.

                Frankly, if money is a motivation for anyone getting into this business, and it does seem like wall street and private equity investors have A LOT of interest in music royalties, just know that only crumbs on the floor will be served to you, last, as always.

                • Well in that case I am both disheartened AND encouraged by your reply. Disheartened because “producers are ALWAYS the last to be paid in the food chain… only crumbs on the floor will be served to you.”

                  But encouraged because technology is moving in our direction – removing the self-involved, self-dealing, dishonest middle man can only be good thing. The more technology can make our business transparent, the better.

                • Curious: Have folks found that BMI will accept Tunesat data? I’ve noticed that Tunesat often misses valuable seconds of performances (especially when the music’s low under VO).

                  I ask as I’ve heard anecdotes of BMI simply telling Tunesat claimers they need to contact the production company, who have no vested interest in helping you, unless they’re missing a publishing portion they own.

            • “They just say that BMI collects what the networks report. They can’t do much more. That’s total BS IMO. I truly believe it’s WHO you are at BMI, which determines payment amounts, etc.”

              I wonder if that actually translates to: “the libraries you’re writing for have to get off their asses and chase their clients down to submit accurate cue sheets. Or maybe they’re engaging in direct licensing.”

  3. “Also, for DIY, we do have a “Y” there for “yes” but only because for whatever reason, I seem to be paid for one show on that network, but others…..hmmm….I think not.”

    Same here and also for The Cooking Channel.

  4. The following networks found in the spreadsheet also pay performance royalties:

    TV One
    Big Ten Network
    Paramount Network
    Tennis Channel
    MLB Network
    Smithsonian Channel

    HBO Latino

    And here are some networks that also pay royalties but aren’t included in the spreadsheet:

    Sportsnet NY
    Womens Ent
    Spike TV
    Lifetime Women
    Comcast Sports
    Direct TV Sports
    Echostar Sports
    In Demand Sports

    Data was taken from my BMI statements.

  5. Thanks for posting this Art. This should give all USA writers a lot of clarity in terms of which networks actually pay performance royalties. It would be great if some publishers can chime in and study this and add their opinions too.

    Also, for DIY, we do have a “Y” there for “yes” but only because for whatever reason, I seem to be paid for one show on that network, but others…..hmmm….I think not.

    I also think that makes the situation more frustrating. I’d love to ask BMI and ASCAP why some shows pay and others do not. Finally, I will add that PRO’s seemingly pay for TV spot performances on most networks, but some TV shows seem to get a pass for background cues which also is an inconsistent and confusing scenario.


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