ASCAP Payment System

How ASCAP Calculates Royalties

Generally, royalties for a single musical work, in any surveyed medium, are the product of this calculation:

Use Weight


Licensee Weight


"Follow the Dollar"


Time of Day


Premium Credits




The factor, or value, attached to each type of performance (theme, background, promotional, etc.)



This factor reflects the license fee paid by a station (or group of stations) and the number of hours included in the appropriate survey. The licensee weight is also referred to as the "hook-up" weight with respect to network television, reflecting the number of stations carrying a broadcast. Other surveyed media - such as the 300 highest-grossing live concerts, symphonic and chamber concerts, websites, background music services, airlines, circuses and ice shows - are also assigned "weights" based on license fees paid to ASCAP.



This factor ensures that the license fees that ASCAP receives from any medium are paid to writers and publishers for performances on that medium. The money we receive from radio stations is paid out for radio performances, the money we receive from TV networks is paid out for TV performances, etc.


TIME OF DAY WEIGHT (if applicable)

On television, the value of a performance can vary depending on the time of day; for example, whether it takes place in prime time or in the middle of the night.



Audio Feature Premium Credits (AFP - for audio performances only, where applicable): Songs that earn certain threshold numbers of audio feature credits in a quarter receive additional credits in that quarter. These credits are applied to performances on radio, satellite and audio streaming services.

Classic Song Bonus Credits (for audio performances only, where applicable): Songs that have earned over 300,000 feature performance credits since entering the ASCAP survey will receive additional credits if they hit a certain performance benchmark in a single quarter. These credits are applied to performances on radio, satellite and audio streaming services.

TV Premium Credits (for TV performances only, where applicable): Theme, underscore and feature performances in highly rated network and local TV series earn additional credits as TV Premium payments.

ASCAP Members are eligible for premiums in respect to performances licensed by ASCAP. Such eligibility does not apply to performances directly licensed by Members (and not licensed by ASCAP) to licensees.




When all of these factors are computed, we arrive at the number of total performance CREDITS. After establishing the number of credits generated by a performance, the next step is to allocate these credits among all of the writers and publishers of the work based on the SHARE each should receive. ASCAP is advised of the correct shares to be paid when members submit Title Registrations. For example, if two co-writers of a song share royalties equally, each will receive 50% of the total credits. The final step is to multiply credits by the appropriate CREDIT VALUE to arrive at the ROYALTY payment.

The credit value accounts for financial income (investment income and other non-license fee income); all members share in financial income in proportion to their credits for surveyed performances.

ASCAP does not set aside money for unregistered or otherwise unidentified shares of a work. When the registration is received, we will make an adjustment in an upcoming distribution for previously processed performances in accordance with our adjustment policy.