But Warns that without Fair Licensing Fees from Digital Channels, the Livelihoods of Music Creators Everywhere Are Threatened

New York, NY, March 10, 2009: – Consistent with its history of leadership on behalf of music creators, top performing rights organization, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers) today reported a record level of money collected for its members in 2008. Representing nearly 350,000 music creators (including lyricists, songwriters, composers and publishers of music from every genre), the member-owned organization generated over $933 million dollars while making royalty payments of more than $817 million. It also reported an all-time low operating expense ratio of 11.3 percent.

Yet despite these record numbers, ASCAP anticipates challenges ahead relative to compensation for its members' music performances. Specifically, many of the businesses that are driving an explosive growth in music use across digital channels have yet to agree to fair licensing terms for the use of ASCAP members' works.

"ASCAP worked hard in 2008 to collect and distribute the most money possible for hard-working songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers," said John LoFrumento, ASCAP CEO. "We also continued providing a strong slate of professional development opportunities, such as the annual ASCAP 'I Create Music' EXPO, and intensified our advocacy efforts on behalf of all music creators, through initiatives like the 'Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers.'"

But in looking ahead, LoFrumento sounded a note of caution. "Digital use of music is skyrocketing, which should be good news for all music creators. Yet to date, we have faced strong resistance on the licensing front from many digital businesses. If this continues even as digital music use explodes, music creators will have a much tougher time earning a living from making music. It is vital that all users of music in the online, mobile and other digital areas come to the table in good faith to negotiate fair licensing fees for music performance. And considering the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent and earned annually by these digital companies, music creators also need to be compensated fairly for the use of their works, especially when they are being used as the foundation for many of these same businesses," he said.

In the face of a changing industry and growing challenges for performance rights compensation, ASCAP continued to drive an array of programs and initiatives focused on career advancement, professional development and rights advocacy. These include:
  • 'A Bill of Rights for Songwriters & Composers,' a grassroots advocacy and awareness-building initiative launched to remind the public, members of the music industry and U.S. legislators of the central role and rights of those who conceive and create music.
  • ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO, the first and only national conference dedicated to songwriting and composing, that has welcomed more than 6,000 participants in its first three years. This year's EXPO will take place April 23 -25, 2009, in Los Angeles.
  • Mediaguide, which tracks broadcast and Internet radio performances via digital fingerprinting technology. In addition to supporting ASCAP's performance tracking, it also generates revenues from independent labels and publishers as well as from advertisers and a range of technology companies.
  • PREP (Performing Rights Enterprise Program), a sophisticated technology platform that gives members online access to ASCAP's performance and royalty distribution databases. Additional components of PREP will roll-out in 2009.
  • ASCAP Network, an online showcase for the music of ASCAP members, delivering nearly 3 million streams a month (
  • MusicPro Insurance, providing affordable instrument, studio and tour insurance coverage to thousands of music professionals, regardless of performing rights organization affiliation.
"We will continue to provide as many opportunities as possible to our members to advance their careers," added LoFrumento. "This includes ongoing work on the part of ASCAP to be a vocal advocate for our members' rights."

Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization (PRO) representing the world's largest repertory totaling over 8.5 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from nearly 350,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members. ASCAP has representation arrangements with similar foreign organizations so that the ASCAP repertory is represented in nearly every country around the world where copyright law exists. ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based upon surveyed performances. ASCAP is the only American PRO owned and governed by its writer and publisher members.


Pauline Stack

CooperKatz & Co. for ASCAP
Kathleen Reynolds