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We took strong action to support our community, foster innovation, educate our members, protect equity in the workplace, boost participation in the 2020 election and create a lasting, much-needed transformation in how we treat each other."
-ASCAP President & Chairman Paul Williams
COMMUNITY + ACTION: A Message from ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williams
I hope all of you and your loved ones are staying healthy, finding positive ways to cope and seeing the light at the end of this long tunnel. We all are still facing hard challenges, as individuals, as families, as a community and as a country.
Yet, the eternal optimist in me sees great hope, change and opportunities as we rise above this dark chapter. That’s because I believe in you and the power of our collective. As music creators, you are instruments of healing and your music is giving solace, inspiration and strength to the world. Thanks to you, we are more connected to each other and committed to a better future than ever before.
2020 showed just how essential ASCAP’s work is to the lives of our members. And I am so impressed by the extraordinary efforts the ASCAP team has made to make up for revenues lost due to the pandemic and to deliver the financial security and support music creators need to survive the crisis of our lifetime.
I am in awe of how ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews and the ASCAP team – without missing a beat! – quickly pivoted to remote working and didn’t just respond, but innovated and optimized to help our writers and publishers. In fact, in 2020 ASCAP executed not one but 10 distributions to our members entirely remotely for the first time in ASCAP history.
ASCAP is its members – a gloriously diverse family of music creators, and in 2020 we came together like never before to make a genuine impact. We took strong action to support our community, foster innovation, educate our members, protect equity in the workplace, boost participation in the 2020 election and create a lasting, much-needed transformation in how we treat each other.
We fought hard in Congress for COVID-19 relief measures that would help our members, made a sizable MusiCares donation and launched the Music Unites Us website to share vital resources to help our members weather the pandemic.
We even developed creative new ways to celebrate our members whose music met this challenging moment and succeeded. Congratulations to all of you who topped the charts, made history and shaped our culture in numerous ways.
As we turned the page on 2020, we received important news that affects all of our songwriter, composer and music publisher members. After nearly two years since the US Department of Justice (DOJ) first launched a formal review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, the DOJ officially closed its review and announced it would take no action to modify or terminate the decrees at this time.
ASCAP has long advocated for modernizing our 80-year-old consent decree. And while we were disappointed that no action was taken, we are encouraged to see the DOJ announcement acknowledge some of the following truths: that songwriters are the backbone of the music industry, that collective licensing provides great benefits to music creators and licensees alike, that market-based solutions are the answer – not compulsory licensing, and that songwriters must be paid fairly. This is what we have been saying all along. This is progress.
These acknowledgements are enormously important in terms of how the government approaches our issues moving forward. And it is only possible, thanks to all of you who took action and poured your blood, sweat and tears into sharing your experiences with the DOJ during this process. You made a difference for every single songwriter and composer in America.
As we usher in a new administration and a new Congress in Washington, DC, ASCAP will always be in your corner – leading the way, celebrating your music, advocating for your rights, and making sure your voice is heard. Our commitment to defending the value of your music will never waiver.
Remember, music is a shortcut to emotion. Freedom to feel…and to heal. Today we need your music more than ever.
Thank you for being part of the ASCAP family.
How did we accomplish such progress in the midst of a global pandemic? It helps to have the greatest community of music creators in the world. It also helps to have the greatest team of talented, hard-working and passionate employees committed to the mission of ASCAP, which is to protect and advocate for our members."
-ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews
STRENGTH + RESILIENCE: A Message from ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews
2020 challenged all of us unlike any other year in modern history. It also defined ASCAP’s dedication to our members. That meant strengthening our commitment to our mission to serve our songwriters, composers and music publishers by taking every step necessary to secure their livelihoods and careers. Inspired by our members each and every day, the ASCAP team proved that innovation, efficiency and progress really can be escalated in a crisis.
I am pleased to say that ASCAP overcame the unprecedented headwinds of 2020 to continue its record-breaking revenue streak, collecting more than $1.327 billion in revenues, a $53 million increase over 2019.
2020 marked the sixth year of ASCAP’s strategic plan to transform its business and grow revenues. During the execution of the strategic plan from 2015 through 2020, ASCAP exceeded performance goals and drove ASCAP revenues to a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and ASCAP distributions to a 7% compound annual growth rate.
2020 domestic and foreign revenues both saw significant increases. As compared to 2019, foreign revenue rose by 9% to $358 million. Domestic revenue for 2020 was up by 2.5% at $969 million, an increase of $24 million from 2019. The growth of domestic revenue was driven in part by gains of 28% in audio streaming revenue and 8% in audio/visual, matching shifting music consumption trends during the pandemic. ASCAP’s strategy to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 helped to offset uncontrollable declines in other sectors, including a 30% decline in revenues from businesses that were shut down or at reduced capacity during the last three quarters of 2020, such as live concerts and events, music venues, bars, clubs, restaurants, retail stores, hotels and more. During a time period in which the global pandemic directly affected revenues for many companies that license music, ASCAP grew royalties for its songwriter, composer and publisher members by $29 million, or 2.5%, for a total of $1.213 billion available for distributions. Domestic distributions from ASCAP-licensed and administered performances hit $891 million, an increase of $22 million and foreign distributions totaled $322 million. As a reminder, ASCAP operates on a not-for-profit basis and distributes all revenues collected, less operating expenses.
How did we accomplish such progress in the midst of a global pandemic? It helps to have the greatest community of music creators in the world. It also helps to have the greatest team of talented, hard-working and passionate employees committed to the mission of ASCAP which is to protect and advocate for our members. Together, we harnessed strength and resilience to overcome the many challenges this crisis has thrown at us.
When COVID-19 first hit last March, ASCAP seamlessly pivoted to remote work and gave our employees the tools, support and flexibility to adjust their lives to continue to deliver excellent service for ASCAP members.
We quickly made operational changes and expense cuts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact. We optimized and aggressively executed our collection efforts. As so many of our valued licensees closed their businesses or suffered revenue declines, we finalized important deals with major licensees that were positively impacted by consumer behavior during the pandemic. We did this to make up for revenue loss in categories that were outside of our control. In addition to the many multi-year deals already in place for 2020, we closed or renewed over 130 deals in categories such as Cable, Broadcast TV, radio, Audio/Visual and Audio Streaming.
We accelerated our distributions, including our Symphony, Recital and Education royalties, and adjusted our financial management protocols to stabilize distributions and give our members more financial security going forward.
We completed system upgrades to boost performance and continued with the migration of our infrastructure to the cloud, all while improving security and increasing efficiency and reliability across all of our tech operations.
ASCAP also continued to push for greater transparency in the music industry with the launch of Songview, a comprehensive data platform developed in partnership with BMI. The from-the-ground-up innovation enables ASCAP and BMI to display more detailed, authoritative and consistent copyright ownership data for performing rights for more than 20 million songs in our combined repertories for the first time.
All of these major projects make us more effective and efficient and better able to respond in the future to changes within the industry.
Supporting our members also means celebrating their successes and fostering the next generation of music creators. To accomplish that in 2020 we reimagined a full schedule of member events on multiple virtual platforms and later, launched and promoted new virtual stages to give our songwriters and composers a chance to share their talents with the world during lockdown. ASCAP Experience: Home Edition brought ASCAP’s conference for aspiring songwriters to an even bigger audience, drawing more than 10,000 attendees from 120 countries around the world.
ASCAP’s seven traditional red carpet award shows recognizing the most-performed works of our songwriters and composers across the musical spectrum transitioned to ASCAP social media platforms, giving every winning member a chance to shine. The virtual events drove a 277% increase in our social media engagement including participation from some of the world’s biggest music creators such as Billie Eilish, Cardi B, Diplo, DaBaby, Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
I am so grateful for the incredible work that the ASCAP team delivered in 2020 and continues to deliver around the clock today. Their dedication to serving and supporting you is greater than ever. I promise you that we will remain laser focused on fighting for you and your families. Thank you for your ASCAP membership and for trusting us with protecting the world’s greatest music.
GROWTH + REACH
ASCAP elected more than 58,000 members in 2020 and is now home to approximately 800,000 songwriters, composers and publishers. We continue to attract and retain some of the world’s most talented songwriters and composers, thanks to the incredible efforts of our Membership team.
SUCCESS + IMPACT
In 2020, ASCAP members and their incredible music met this challenging moment and succeeded. They wrote and published #1 songs on 27 separate Billboard Year-End Charts, and broke numerous streaming and chart records. They earned the music industry’s highest honors, in every genre imaginable. They made Grammy history. They won Oscars and Golden Globes, CMAs and Pulitzer Prizes, daytime and primetime Emmys, Latin Grammys and World Soundtrack Awards. And so much more.
ASCAP BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The 12 writers and 12 publishers of the ASCAP Board work hard to protect and support the interests of ASCAP members.
First row (l-r) Irwin Z. Robinson (Publisher Vice Chairman), Paul Williams (President & Chairman of the Board, songwriter), Marcus Miller (composer), Joel Beckerman (composer)
Second row (l-r) Doug Wood (composer), Alex Shapiro (composer), Barry Coburn (publisher), Bruce Broughton (composer), Carianne Marshall (publisher)
Third row (l-r) Caroline Bienstock (publisher), Dan Foliart (Writer Vice Chairman, composer), Dean Kay (publisher), Desmond Child (songwriter), Evan Lamberg (publisher)
Fourth row (l-r) James M. Kendrick (Treasurer, publisher), Keith Hauprich (publisher), Jimmy Webb (songwriter), Laurent Hubert (publisher), Leeds Levy (publisher)
Fifth row (l-r) Mary Megan Peer (publisher), Michelle Lewis (songwriter), Peter Brodsky (publisher), Richard Bellis (composer), Rudy Pérez (songwriter)
Music Unites Us: Resources to keep you healthy, creative and financially stable during the epidemic
ADVOCACY + PROTECTION
When the pandemic hit, ASCAP fought hard in Congress for COVID-19 relief measures that would help our members, helping to rally a broad music industry coalition. We also made a significant MusiCares donation specifically earmarked to help our members in need as a result of the impact of COVID. We also launched the Music Unites Us website to share vital resources to help our members weather the pandemic.
Later in the year, we introduced the ASCAP Citizen campaign in partnership with HeadCount, to inspire music creators and fans to vote in the 2020 election. The campaign featured original content from top ASCAP members like Cardi B, The Go-Gos, Taking Back Sunday, The National, Brothers Osborne, Cassadee Pope, Avenue Beat, Jermaine Dupri and mxmtoon, among many others.
INNOVATION + EXPLORATION
In 2020, ASCAP sponsored an 11-week ASCAP Lab Seed Project challenge for university students, in partnership with NYC Media Lab, to nurture emerging talent pushing the envelope of music creation tools and experiences to benefit ASCAP members and drive innovation in the music industry.
In addition, The ASCAP Lab welcomed Grammy-winning guitarist and songwriter Vernon Reid to the group as Artist in Residence. Reid appeared at the NYCML Summit October 9 in a keynote conversation with finalists from the Seed Project called “A Musician’s Perspective on Innovation and Its Role in the Creative Process.”
SUPPORT + DEVELOPMENT
In 2020 we continued to support our members far beyond quarterly royalty payments.
As the year began, we presented our Sundance ASCAP Music Café, our only 2020 live event and a fantastic showcase highlighting our members from across the musical spectrum.
We also shifted our annual conference, The ASCAP Experience, to a virtual format in record time. Over eight weeks, we hosted 38 sessions with leading ASCAP members, and helped over 10,000 registered participants from over 120 different countries with unique advice and career development guidance from the best in the industry.
DIVERSITY + INCLUSION
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis policeman in May 2020, we launched our Fight for Change resources page, raised money for Color of Change and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund with an employee match program and worked for racial justice and police reform bills on the federal and state levels.
We initiated ASCAP ASPIRE, a new annual paid summer internship program for HBCU students to nurture talent and empower the next generation of Black leaders in the music and entertainment business.
ASCAP recognized Juneteenth as an official company holiday to honor the historical celebration of emancipation in America and also made Election Day a company holiday to give employees more time to exercise their right to vote.
MUSIC. MORE THAN EVER.