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Why You Should Join ASCAP as a Writer and a Publisher
Joining ASCAP as a writer is a great first step in your music career. Here are four reasons to join as a publisher, too.
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Frequently asked questions
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You may join ASCAP if you do not have a valid US Social Security Number or are not a US citizen; however, additional income reporting documentation must be provided with your application. Please go to the IRS website (irs.gov) to obtain a W8-BEN form. When you have completed the application please mail the original completed W8-BEN with your application number written on the top to:
7920 West Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Unfortunately, we cannot disclose phone numbers for specific companies unless they have agreed to allow us to do so. The following companies have agreed to allow us to provide their phone numbers to prospective or current members:
AFTRA (American Federation of TV & Radio Artists): 212 532-0800
Harry Fox Agency: 212-834-0100
Songwriter's Guild: 201-867-7603
Trademark Office: 800-786-9199
U.S. Copyright Office: 202-707-5959/877 476-0778
U.S. Library of Congress: 202-707-5000
A direct license is any license agreement between an ASCAP member and a music user (for example, a radio station, TV network, website, live venue or background music service) granting the user the rights to perform publicly the member's music.
A source license is any license agreement between an ASCAP member and an entity that produces and supplies programs containing your music (for example, a TV production company), granting the right to authorize others (for example, a TV station) to perform publicly the member's music.
If you enter into a direct or source license, you must promptly notify ASCAP of:
- The title of the work or works licensed.
- The writer(s) and publisher(s) of the work(s).
- The name and address of the licensee(s).
- The time period for which the license will be in effect.
- The territories, medium and venue covered by the license.
To properly notify ASCAP of a direct or source license, you must complete and submit the form titled "Notice of Direct/Source Licensing." This form is available for download and submission through Member Access. The Direct License Form can be downloaded from the Messages section of Member Access. Once in Messages, you can select Category: "Statement and Payment Questions" and Topic: "Direct Licensing – Domestic" or "Direct Licensing – International"
You should also attach to the Message a copy of the license (financial terms - such as the amount of the license fee - may be redacted).
You should consider seeking the advice of a music attorney or business advisor before entering into a direct or source license.
You should attempt to obtain as much information as possible about when and how the music will be used and the license terms being offered to others. You may also wish to assess the importance of your specific works or catalog to the music user's business.
Keep in mind that while music users and program producers may offer up-front, lump-sum payments, it may be difficult to value or predict the future commercial success of your musical works.
There may also be instances in which a direct or source license might impact your ability to earn royalties from other music users. For example, if a TV or film producer acquires the performance rights to your music through an irrevocable license, or "buy-out" deal, you will not be able to receive public performance royalties when that show or film is sold or licensed to a downstream music user, or shown or broadcast in a foreign territory.
ASCAP cannot answer inquiries concerning payments for direct or source licensed performances.
ASCAP cannot audit the music user or program producer on your behalf.
ASCAP cannot make up the difference in performance royalties if your ASCAP royalties would have been greater than what you received under the direct or source license.
Although ASCAP cannot advise you on what terms you should seek in a direct or source license, ASCAP may be able to provide you with information on what you might earn in ASCAP royalties if we were to license those performances for you.
No. Titles should only be registered once, and will automatically appear in the catalogs of each entitled party listed on the initial registration.
Please note: If your work is not self-published, we prefer that the work be registered only by the publisher representing your interest.
If your co-writer registered the work with ASCAP, there is no need to register the song again – though it is a good idea to check with your co-writer to ensure that he/she registered it properly.
If your co-writer belongs to a different PRO, you will also need to register your work with ASCAP before we can track it and get you paid.
ASCAP rules permit living members to assign some or all of his or her royalties in certain situations. Permitted assignments include (a) an assignment to repay an advance, loan or line or credit, (b) an assignment to a corporation or similar entity, at least 95% owned by one or more ASCAP writer member(s), (c) an assignment to a living trust, or (d) an assignment to a family member, non-profit, foundation, or charity. Given the unique needs of the estates of writer members, ASCAP also permits the estate to sell or irrevocably assign the right to receive ASCAP writer royalties.
All royalty assignments require a $75.00 processing fee.
If you are interested in assigning your royalties, you may request the required forms in ASCAP Member Access via Member Service Inquiry or by calling ASCAP’s Member Services department at 1-800-95ASCAP (1-800-952-7227). For more information about these assignments, see the Compendium of ASCAP Rules and Regulations, available on our Governing Documents page.
You can submit a claim via OnStage right after you perform live, but there is a deadline:
DATE OF PERFORMANCE SUBMISSION DEADLINE
January 1 to March 31 June 30
April 1 to June 30 September 30
July 1 to September 30 December 31
October 1 to December 31 March 31 (following year)
If you miss the deadline, we will not be able to process your claim. Make OnStage a regular part of your post-show routine!
ASCAP OnStage is not a platform for reporting classical events, i.e., performances in the symphonic, recital or educational fields. To report a symphonic, recital or educational performance, visit the following link: Performance Notification
ASCAP must be able to license the performance or the claim will be declined. Most performances not a part of the Symphonic, Recital or Educational survey are eligible for processing by OnStage, but some are not based upon US copyright law (as described within 17 USC § 110), generally including non-licensable performances such as:
• Musical theatre
• Teaching activities
• Religious services
• Livestock and agricultural exhibits
• Government-sponsored events
• Private parties
• Non-permitted events
ASCAP licenses the public performances of its members' musical works. A public performance is one that occurs either in a public place where people gather (other than a small circle of a family or social acquaintances). A public performance is also one that is transmitted to the public, for example, radio or TV broadcasts, and via the Internet.
ASCAP's customer licensees include: Airlines, Amusement Parks, Bars, Restaurants & Nightclubs, Colleges & Universities, Concert Presenters, Music Venues & Clubs, Convention & Trade Shows, Fitness Clubs, Hotels, Local Government Entities, Radio & Television Stations and Networks, Mobile Entertainment, Websites, Retail Stores and music users in a wide variety of other industries. See the complete list of ASCAP license types on this website. There are over 100 different ASCAP rate schedules covering almost all businesses that perform music.
ASCAP does not license "dramatic" or "grand" rights, or dramatic performances. ASCAP members who write musical plays, operas, or ballet scores deal directly with those who want to perform our members' works "dramatically." While ASCAP does not license "dramatic" or "grand" rights, or dramatic performances of its members' music, an ASCAP license does authorize nondramatic performances of songs from dramatic productions. For more information on "dramatic" or "grand" rights and the distinction between dramatic and nondramatic performances, click here.
ASCAP does not license the right to record music on a CD, tape, or as part of an audio-visual work such as a motion picture, video or TV program. Those rights, known as mechanical and synchronization ("synch") rights, are licensed by writers or publishers.
ASCAP does not license the right to print copies of musical works nor does it license rights to make adaptations or arrangements.
ASCAP does not license rights for recording artists, musicians, singers or record labels. However, artists/musicians who are songwriters can become ASCAP members. ASCAP licenses the performance rights for the music of its members.
If you want to make copies of, or re-record an existing record, tape or CD, you will probably need the permission of both the music publisher and the record label. A music publisher owns the song (that is, the words and music) and a record company owns the "sound recording" (that is, what you hear... the artist singing, the musicians playing, the entire production).
If you plan to hire your own musicians and singers and create an original recording of a copyrighted song, then you need the permission of only the music publisher.
ASCAP does not license recording rights. Recording rights for most publishers can be obtained through a variety of companies, including:
40 Wall Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10005
Easy Song Licensing
2600 N 2nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55411
The name and address of the record company should appear on the record label. The Recording Industry Association of America, a trade organization for record labels, can provide you with more information on the rights of record labels.
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
1020 19th St. NW, Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 775-0101
Fax: (202) 775-7253
The annual rate depends on the type of business. Generally, rates are based on the manner in which music is performed (live, recorded or audio only or audio/visual) and the size of the establishment or potential audience for the music. For example, rates for restaurants, nightclubs, bars and similar establishments depend on whether the music is live or recorded, whether it's audio only or audio visual, the number of nights per week music is offered, whether admission is charged and several other factors.
Concert rates are based on the ticket revenue and seating capacity of the facility. Rates for music used by corporations ("Music In Business") are based upon the number of employees. College and university rates are based upon the number of full time students; retail store rates depend on the number of speakers and square footage. Hotel rates are based on a percentage of entertainment expenses for live music and an additional charge if recorded music is used.
Because ASCAP has over a hundred different licenses and rate schedules, one will likely fit your needs. ASCAP operates under the principle that similarly situated users should be treated similarly. This assures fairness and consistency in our licensing. For example, rates for restaurants of the same size, with the same use of music are the same regardless of whether the restaurant is in Oshkosh or New York City.
Licenses for jukeboxes are available through the Jukebox License Office. The JLO makes it convenient and economical for you to obtain the permission you need for your jukebox by serving as a "clearinghouse" that provides authorization to perform virtually every copyrighted song in the United States and much of the world.
The JLO is a joint venture of the United States performing rights organizations, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. The JLO offers a license which provides total access to all songs in the ASCAP, BMI and SESAC repertories. The Jukebox License Agreement is a single, economical, annual license that provides the authorization required to publicly perform copyrighted songs on a jukebox. Jukeboxes that are licensed by the JLO, must display a certificate in the title strip holder of each jukebox. If you see a jukebox without a certificate, please complete and return the Tips card or email the name and address of the location and name of jukebox operator (if known) to email@example.com.
Establishments where music is performed by some means other than the jukebox (DJ's, bands, tapes, etc.), still need a separate license from ASCAP (or the individual copyright owners) covering these other performances. The Jukebox License Agreement only provides authorization for jukebox performances.
The jukebox, or "coin-operated phonorecord player," qualifies for the Jukebox License Agreement if it is a machine or device that:
- is used solely for non-dramatic public performances of music; and
- is operated by coins, tokens, currency or the like; and
- is operated by patrons of the establishment (not employees), who make their selections from a list of titles; and
- is located in an establishment making no direct or indirect charge for admission.
If your jukebox fails to meet any of these criteria, it does not qualify as a "coin-operated phonorecord player" under the Copyright law and performances on that jukebox cannot be licensed through the JLO.
Please contact the JLO with any other questions you may have or to obtain a jukebox license.
Section 110(5)(B) provides a limited exemption for certain performances of music in food service, drinking and retail establishments by means of radio and television transmissions.
The exemption applies only to performances of music originated by a broadcast radio or television station or a cable system or satellite carrier, only if no direct charge is made to see or hear the performances, only if the performances are not further transmitted beyond the establishment where they are received, and only if the original transmission is licensed by the copyright owners -- that is, the radio or television station, cable system or satellite carrier is licensed by the copyright owners or their performing rights organizations.
The exemption contains objective standards which will enable both music users and copyright owners to determine whether particular radio and television performances are exempt from copyright liability. Two types of music users are exempt, under different standards: a food service or drinking establishment (defined as "a restaurant, inn, bar, tavern, or any other similar place of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink, in which the majority of the gross square feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that purpose, and in which nondramatic musical works are performed publicly") and an other establishment (defined as "a store, shop, or any similar place of business open to the general public for the primary purpose of selling goods or services in which the majority of the gross square feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that purpose, and in which nondramatic musical works are performed publicly").
A food service or drinking establishment is eligible for the exemption if it (1) has less than 3750 gross square feet of space (in measuring the space, the amount of space used for customer parking only is always excludable); or (2) has 3750 gross square feet of space or more and (a) uses no more than 6 loudspeakers of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space; and (b) if television sets are used, there are no more than 4 televisions, of which not more than 1 is located in any 1 room and none has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches.
An other establishment (e.g., a retail store) is eligible for the exemption if it (1) has less than 2000 gross square feet of space; or (2) has 2000 or more gross square feet of space and satisfies the same loudspeaker and television set requirements as for food service or drinking establishments.
Of course, this exemption is limited to those radio or television performances; the law requires that public performances of copyrighted music by other means such as live music, karaoke, CDs, MP3 and digital files, background music services and DVDs require permission obtained either from the copyright owners or from their performing rights licensing organizations.
The ASCAP radio license does not provide the right to authorize retransmissions of broadcasts of ASCAP music over loudspeakers in stores, restaurants or other locations open to the public, or by means of music-on-hold systems.
The ASCAP license does not provide the right to record copyrighted music, or change the lyric of a copyrighted work and use it in a commercial jingle or station promotion. These are known as "mechanical" or "recording" and "synchronization" rights and you should deal directly with the copyright owners for permission to record music or change a song. You may also want to contact the Harry Fox Agency at (212) 834-0100.
- Access to every variety of music you need to attract and entertain your viewers.
- The immediate right to perform great new music written or published by our members.
- Access to perform music in the repertories of similar foreign performing rights organizations in nearly every country around the world where copyright law exists.
- The right to perform music in commercials and jingles.
- An indemnity if a claim for infringement is made against you, your staff or your advertisers based on the performance of our member's works.
ASCAP's license fees for radio are the product of negotiations between ASCAP and prominent radio broadcasters, principally members of an industry-wide committee, the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC). All of the RMLC members are broadcasters, and represent the entire spectrum of the radio industry. While a court is available to determine fees if necessary, over the years ASCAP and the committee have always been able to agree on license fees and terms.
ASCAP and the current RMLC-negotiated license agreements cover the period January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2016.
ASCAP and the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) have concluded negotiations on a new industry-wide license agreement ("2010 Radio Station License Agreement") that covers the period January 1, 2010 - December 31, 2016. This Agreement was also approved by the ASCAP Rate Court on Friday, January 27, 2012. The Agreement, which has ended the previous federal Rate Court litigation, provides for a return to a revenue-based fee structure, and expanded coverage to accommodate the radio industry's evolving distribution platforms: Internet websites, smart phones, and other wireless devices ("new media uses"), and HD/Multicasting radio channels.
The agreement provides that interim fees paid during 2010 and 2011 are now final, subject to $75 million in credits attributable to those years. These credits will be allocated to stations in annual $15 million installments from 2012 through 2016. For the years 2012 through 2016, stations electing to operate under a blanket license will pay 1.7% of gross revenue less a standard deduction of 12% for terrestrial analog and HD/multicasting broadcasts and a 25% standard deduction for new media uses. Stations operating under a per program, or "program period," license and that have no performances of feature ASCAP music will pay a fee of 0.2958% of gross revenue less the same standard deductions. Supplemental fees for program-period stations will be consistent with those required under the 2004-2009 license agreement.
Your annual license fee reports must be submitted electronically and ASCAP and the RMLC are working together to provide stations with a simple method of reporting that will be available to all licensed stations in 2013.
- Access to every variety of music you need to attract and entertain your viewers.
- The immediate right to perform great new music written or published by our members.
- The right to perform music in the repertories of more than 90 affiliated foreign societies.
- The right to perform music in commercials and jingles.
- An indemnity if a claim for infringement is made against you, your staff or your advertisers based on the performance of our members' works.
The ASCAP license does not provide the right to record copyrighted music, or change the lyric of a copyrighted work and use it in a commercial jingle or station promotional announcement. These are known as "mechanical" and "synchronization" rights and you should deal directly with the copyright owners for permission to record music or change a song. Contact information for specific works in the ASCAP repertory can be found on the ASCAP website, mobile.ascap.com/aceclient/AceWeb/. You may also want to contact the Harry Fox Agency at (212) 370-5330.
The new agreements are being provided to all eligible stations that are either represented by the TMLC or have agreed to be bound by the terms of the ASCAP/TMLC agreement. The principal features of the new license agreement are set forth below, with links to the new license agreement and Judge Cote's Final Order.
There are two steps to the TMLC's allocation formula. First, the industrywide fee is divided among all the television or "ADI " (Areas of Dominant Influence) markets across the country. For example, Omaha is a market; Dallas-Fort Worth is a market. The share of the total for each market is weighted according to size. The Dallas-Fort Worth market is weighted higher than Omaha, for instance, because Dallas-Fort Worth has more viewers. The result is that total fees paid by all of the stations in the Dallas market are greater than total fees paid by all of the stations in the Omaha market.
Once the total fee for a market has been calculated, it is allocated to the individual stations in that market. This allocation is based on verified household ratings: i.e., how many people watch each station. A highly rated station in a market will therefore pay a greater fee than a station with a low rating. And, overall, a highly rated station in a large market will have a higher blanket fee than a highly rated station in a small market.
A copyright owner has a number of different exclusive rights contained within a single copyright (often referred to as a “bundle of rights”). One of those exclusive rights is the ‘Performance Right’ or the right to “perform the copyrighted work publicly.” See the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C § 106(4). ASCAP licenses the non-dramatic public performance right of its members’ works to music users for a fee and distributes the license fees received as royalties to ASCAP members.
For more information about music licensing, please visit our Licensing FAQ. For more information about copyright, please visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s website at http://www.copyright.gov. If you have any questions or concerns about your copyrights, you should consult an experienced attorney.
Compositions receive federal copyright protection as soon as they are fixed in a tangible medium, which is most often achieved upon writing or recording the work, but registering your works with the Copyright Office provides you with certain benefits under the law. ASCAP does not register works with the Copyright Office and submitting your work to ASCAP for registration with ASCAP is not an alternative to Copyright Office Registration.
ASCAP members are solely responsible for all issues relating to copyright, including registration, renewal, and termination. For more information about copyright registration and other copyright issues, please visit The U.S. Copyright Office’s website at http://www.copyright.gov. If you have any questions or concerns about your copyrights, you should consult an experienced attorney.
Copyrights do not have an unlimited duration. Works created on or after January 1, 1978 (or created but unpublished before 1978) have a single copyright term that extends, in most cases, for the life of the author plus 70 years (or in the case of co-written songs, plus 70 years from the last surviving author’s death). These works do not require renewal to exercise the full life of the copyright.
The concept of renewals affects only "pre-1978" works (i.e. works in copyright before January 1, 1978). For any of these works, the copyright term is divided into two terms: (1) an initial term of 28 years following the earlier of the work's (a) creation and publication with notice or (b) registration, and then (2) a renewal term of an additional 67 years. Because more than 28 years have passed since December 31, 1977 (the last day before the effective date of the "new" Copyright Act), all pre-1978 works that are still in copyright are now in their renewal terms. In order to obtain the renewal term for pre-1978 works, filing a renewal registration with the Copyright Office may be necessary. Generally, only works copyrighted prior to January 1, 1964 require renewal registration with the Copyright Office.
The renewal belongs generally to the writer. However, if a writer enters into an agreement assigning the renewal term and the writer is still alive when the renewal is to become effective, the copyright in the renewal term will belong to the assignee (e.g., the publisher). However, if the writer in such case dies prior to the renewal, then the copyright law grants to certain surviving heirs the right to claim the renewal term despite the writer’s previous agreement.
ASCAP does not file copyright renewals on behalf of its members. For more information about duration, renewal and other copyright issues, please visit http://www.copyright.gov. If you have any questions or concerns about your copyrights, you should consult an experienced attorney.
Congress provided a means for recapturing the extended term where rights had been assigned or licensed to third parties. Specifically, if a writer or one of a writer's statutory heirs entered into an agreement assigning or licensing a renewal copyright before January 1, 1978, whatever rights were granted could be recaptured for the duration of the renewal term. (Note that the only grants subject to this form of recapture are those made by the writer or a statutory heir while living, not any grants made by will.) If the writer is still alive, the writer may exercise the recapture himself. If the writer has died, the recapture may be exercised by the writer's surviving spouse and children (including grandchildren by a predeceased child), or, if there are none, by the writer's executor or administrator. The recapture provision applies only to works in copyright before 1978 and are not works made for hire.
The recapture must be exercised by following a specified notification procedure during the 5-year period beginning 56 years from the date copyright was originally secured, or beginning January 1, 1978, whichever is later. If a termination notice was not effectuated during that 5-year window, a second termination option exists to reclaim the final 20 years of the renewal term (added under the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright term Extension Act). This second option for recapture must be exercised during 5-year period beginning 75 years after copyright was originally secured.
ASCAP does not effectuate recapture copyrights on behalf of our members. For more information about renewals and other copyright issues, please visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s website at http://www.copyright.gov. If you have any questions or concerns about your copyrights, you should consult an experienced attorney.
The Copyright Act affords a writer the opportunity to terminate any transfer or license of works made by the writer on or after January 1, 1978. This right of termination applies only to agreements that a writer has made during his or her lifetime and not to any copyright grant contained in the writer's Will.
The right can be exercised by the writer him or herself or, if the writer has died, by the writer's surviving spouse and children (including grandchildren by a predeceased child). If the writer is not survived by any spouse, child, or grandchild, the right to terminate the grant passes to the writer's executor or administrator. The result in all cases is to recover all rights that the writer had granted, regardless of any agreement about the work to the contrary.
Termination can take effect only during the 5-year period beginning 35 years after the date of the grant, but a notice is required to initiate the termination. This notice must be sent between 2 to 10 years before the effective date of the termination and recorded with the Copyright Office. Because this termination right applies only to grants related to works made on or after January 1, 1978, the year 2003 is the first year that termination notices could have been sent, and 2013 is the first year that any will take effect.
When planning for the disposition of the copyright in a work that the writer has previously transferred or licensed, keep in mind the possibility that the grant may be terminated and the rights recovered.
In order to process a member's request to update a work records pursuant to a termination, ASCAP requires:
• Correspondence from the claiming publisher describing the request, along with instruction as to the ASCAP publisher member that is to receive the reclaimed interest received by ASCAP no earlier than one quarter in advance of the effective date;
• A copy of the Notice of Termination as served on the original grantee, which should include a list of works claimed, along with evidence of recordation with the Copyright Office. (Note: Evidence of submission of the Notice of Termination to the Copyright Office is sufficient, we do not need to see evidence of completed recordation)
Cover letters and copies of notices should be submitted in ASCAP Member Access via Member Service Inquiry (Category: 'My Catalog', Topic: 'Copyright Claims - Reclamation of Post-1978 Works'). Please note that ASCAP can accept claims no more than one quarter in advance of the effective date.
Be advised that ASCAP will not make a determination of the sufficiency of the request, but will provide a copy of the Notice of Termination to the original grantee to confirm the termination before updating our records.
ASCAP does not terminate transfers of copyrights on behalf of our members. For more information about terminations and other copyright issues, please visit http://www.copyright.gov. If you have any questions or concerns about termination or your copyrights, you should consult an experienced attorney.
- Visita nuestra página de internet en www.ascap.com
- Selecciona “Manage Account", bajo la seccion de Music Creators
- Ingresa a tu cuenta de Member Access usando tu nombre de usuario y contraseña. Si no has activado tu cuenta de Member Access, podes activar tu cuenta hoy haciendo click en “Activate Your Account Now!”
- Haz click en “Register A Work” y sigue las instrucciones para registrar sus canciones.