Turning Performances Into Dollars
After we get all that performance data, it's time to convert it into royalties. For performances on most audio-only media, our award-winning Audio Performance Management (APM) system - developed in-house - automatically matches digital data with the music that ASCAP members have registered with us. The first year ASCAP used APM, we doubled the number of performances we processed annually, from 250 billion to 500 billion. It's a great example of how we're harnessing the power of digital tech to get more ASCAP members paid.
Every performance picked that's picked up in an ASCAP survey generates a certain number of credits. Each credit is worth a certain dollar value. The number of credits for each performance depends upon several factors, among them:
- HOW the music is used (feature, theme, background, etc.)
- WHERE the music is performed (network or local television, radio, cable, etc.)
- HOW much the licensee pays us
- The time of day of the performance (with respect to television and cable)
ASCAP has two special bonus programs to recognize the increased value that frequently-performed songs bring to our repertory. If a song earns a certain threshold of feature performance credits in a quarter, additional credits are added to that song's total credits as Audio Feature Premium (AFP) payments. Songs that have earned over 300,000 feature performance credits since they were first surveyed, and haven't earned an AFP in the past four quarters, are eligible for our Classic Song Bonus when they reach a certain performance benchmark in a single quarter. Both AFPs and the Classic Song Bonus apply to performances on audio-only platforms, including streaming services, satellite radio and terrestrial radio.
Theme, underscore and feature performances in highly rated network, syndicated and local TV and cable series earn additional credits as TV Premium payments. These payments recognize the importance of these highly rated programs to the value of the repertory.
In the case of music used as underscoring in films and television programs, the length, or duration, of the work will affect the number of credits generated. In the case of live symphony and concert performances, the length, or duration, and the instrumentation will also affect the number of credits a particular performance will generate (full orchestra, chamber work, etc.)
Monies to writers and publishers are paid out in separate distributions covering the same performance periods. The dollar value of a performance credit is determined quarterly, taking into account the estimated total number of ASCAP credits being processed for writers or publishers and the total number of dollars available for distribution. A writer's or publisher's royalty check is determined by multiplying the number of credits they earned for performances of their works during a quarter by the dollar value of a credit for that quarter. For example, if a writer earned 10,000 credits for performances of her works on radio and television in a three-month period and the value of one writer credit was $7.80, the writer's royalty check would be $78,000 (10,000 x $7.80).