An Update from Paul Williams During the Pandemic

April 3, 2020

Dear ASCAP members:

I hope you, your families and your loved ones are healthy and safe during this extraordinary time. The global COVID-19 crisis is having consequences for people all over the world, including our own communities of songwriters, composers, music publishers and our licensing partners whose businesses are suffering major financial setbacks. We know the economic uncertainties this creates for everyone in our community.

I want you to know that ASCAP is doing everything possible to meet this challenge on your behalf and to ensure the flow of royalties to our members. For the first time in over a century, with ASCAP employees working entirely from home, we were pleased to have delivered our First Quarter Publisher Distribution on March 20, and we are on track to deliver our Second Quarter Writer Distribution on Tuesday, April 28.

Every day, the dedicated team at ASCAP is working long hours from their homes to deliver the best possible services to you, our members. ASCAP moved quickly to ensure the well-being of our employees by shutting down all of our offices on March 16. Our offices will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

As COVID-19 has continued to escalate and more and more of our licensee businesses have shut down, we have had to carefully review our cash forecasts and plan for more disruption to our revenue collections and member distributions. As I mentioned in my last letter, the pandemic will have a material and negative impact financially on almost every category of licensing, so it is important to ensure that we are prepared for a decline in both revenues and distributions, which is why we took the step weeks ago to freeze numerous operational expenses.

We have also had to transition to a more flexible distribution schedule throughout the remainder of 2020 and 2021. For example, prior to COVID-19, we had planned to send the writer distribution on Monday, April 6 and, as noted earlier, today we determined that the writer distribution will be sent on Tuesday, April 28. If you receive a check by mail, please note that the US Postal Service is also experiencing delays in some geographic territories. 

One thing the coronavirus crisis has taught us is that we are not alone, even in our current isolation. ASCAP worked with our industry partners to petition Congress to include financial relief and protections for songwriters and composers as part of the massive government relief package. Our industry is also coming together in support of MusiCares’s special coronavirus relief funds for our community. ASCAP will be supporting their efforts specific to songwriters and composers.

Two weeks ago, ASCAP launched Music Unites Us, an important web portal for our members and the community, with vital information to help our members cope with this crisis, including how to access financial relief through government and other programs and many more resources. I encourage you to visit often as our team updates the site with important information on a regular basis.

Connection is at the heart of creating music. I have been encouraged and inspired by the many ASCAP members who have come together virtually to share your music and your stories. We have already lost some beloved members of our community and our collective sadness is profound. At the same time, our collective humanity will bring us through this crisis and music will lift us up, as it always does.

Wishing you strength and health.

Paul Williams
Paul Williams
ASCAP President & Chairman of the Board