Learning about ASCAP!


ASCAP is a non-profit organization that aids in protecting their 400,000+ members copyrights, whether it be from a broadcast or live performance.  They have pre-arranged an agreement where they collect all of the fees from the broadcaster (ie terrestrial radio station) or venue(s) avoiding the station or venue having to pay the artist directly or conversely the artist having to send invoices for payment.

ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from the membership. – ASCAP.COM Website November 7th, 2011

ASCAP has a deep history dating back to the early 1900’s and collects on average $900,000,000 in licensing fees while distributing about ~88% of that figure back to rights holders.  They have a deep and rich client list with some of the top names in music including Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Carly Simon, Dr. Dre, Marc Anthony, The Ramones, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and Slayer to name a few.

They claim to license over 11,000 radio stations and 2,000 non-commercial radio stations.  They honor their top members with an annual awards show and host an exposition called “I Create Music” annually that is fully dedicated to songwriting and composition.

ASCAP has existed not without controversy, particularly a case where they wanted to secure licenses for ringtone public performances.  The U.S. District court of New York determined that playing music in public, when done without any commercial purpose, does not infringe copyright.  Recently they’ve been reaching out to sites that embed YouTube videos to secure licenses and demanded payment from Amazon and iTunes for streaming previews.

Its been rumored that ASCAP is very secretive in how they hold board meetings, who attends these board meetings, notes from these board meetings and non-transparency on the formulas which determine how much a song or composition should earn when played on radio or television.

ASCAP charges a $35 application fee and doesn’t charge its membership an annual fee, instead taking up to 12% of overall revenues to pay for its overhead.

ASCAP claims to have the ability to nurture music makers throughout their careers with workshops, showcase opportunities, as well as benefits packages like membership in the U.S. Alliance Federal Credit Union, discounts on health, dental, instrument and life insurance as well as discounts on various music-related retail products, hotels and rental car bookings.

Make sure to develop a relationship with someone at any PRO.  Have a point of contact if you have questions or want to take advantage of their services available to you.


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