April 24, 2014

ASCAP Proposes Five Principles for Meaningful Music Licensing Reform

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams Outlines Five Guiding Principles as Federal Policymakers Rethink Decades-Old Regulations that Govern Songwriter Compensation

Tells 1,200 ASCAP Members and EXPO Attendees "The Interests of Music Creators and the Public are Fundamentally Aligned"

paul podium

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams addresses attendees at the 2014 ASCAP General Annual Membership Meeting

Hollywood, CA, April 24, 2014 – Kicking off the 9th ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO, ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams today announced  a five-point plan to guide meaningful music licensing reform in Washington. The announcement was made at ASCAP’s General Annual Membership Meeting, the opening session of the ASCAP EXPO.

An award-winning songwriter and longtime advocate for the rights of music creators, Williams’ opening remarks focused on the unique challenges songwriters and composers face in the digital era: “The rules and regulations that govern how we do business are outdated and don’t work in today’s evolving music marketplace.” Pointing to ASCAP’s consent decree with the Department of Justice, originally created in 1941 and last updated in 2001 before the introduction of the iPod, Williams expressed optimism it would be updated to reflect the realities of today’s music marketplace.

Williams went on to describe ASCAP’s efforts to build consensus among industry stakeholders and policymakers who recognize the need for reform, outlining five core principles crucial to his vision of a sustainable future for music:

  • SIMPLIFICATION: The music licensing process must be simplified, streamlined and reflective of how people listen to music today.
  • MARKET RATES: The free market should determine the value of music copyrights, just as it does in other entertainment sectors.
  • CONSUMER CHOICE: Music fans should continue to have access to a wide variety of music on any platform they choose.
  • CREATOR CONTROL: Music starts with the songwriter or composer, and the interests of music creators should be central to any effort to reform copyright laws. 
  • ACCESS: We must preserve a robust collective licensing system in order to keep the music playing, ensure music creators are fairly compensated for use of their work, and enable new music businesses to launch efficiently and legally.

Williams shared promising signs of progress, noting the recent introduction of the bipartisan Songwriter Equity Act legislation in Congress, a recently announced U.S. Copyright Office study to analyze the effectiveness of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, and strong statements of support from key members of Congress.

“We are working on the front lines,” Williams told the ASCAP members in the audience, saying: “These five core principles will guide the way to a modernized music licensing system that works better for everyone – writers, composers, publishers, licensees and, most importantly, music fans.”

The full text of Paul Williams' remarks is available here.

Later, ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento echoed Williams’ call for members to engage in efforts to reform the music licensing system and shared how the 500,000-member organization is evolving in its 100th anniversary year: “As streaming becomes more popular, we believe the value of your music on those platforms is growing. That’s why our work in Washington to modernize the rules that govern our music licensing system is mission critical.”

LoFrumento also expressed optimism about the future of ASCAP’s collective licensing model: “We see tremendous opportunity going forward – a new era for ASCAP and greater opportunities for our members. But it will take all of us standing together to build a future where creative work is valued as it should be – as the foundation of the entire music business and as the driving force that attracts listeners to all the delivery platforms out there, from old media to new.”

The full text of LoFrumento’s annual ASCAP membership meeting speech is available here.

For more information about the ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO, visit www.ascap.com/expo.

About ASCAP 
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP's mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world's best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business - from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With 700,000 members representing more than 11.5 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. www.ascap.com

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Media Contacts:
Lauren Iossa

Bobbi Marcus
Bobbi Marcus Public Relations