The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has announced that it distributed more than $827 million in royalties to its songwriter, composer and publisher members in the calendar year ended 2012, a slight increase over 2011.
2012 became the fifth year in a row that ASCAP distributed in excess of $800 million to its members – the only performing rights organization to do so.
ASCAP maintained its high level of royalty payments to members through careful financial management, which anticipated revenue declines from the radio industry as well as settlements with background music services resulting from the DMX rate court decision. At $941 million, annual revenues were strong – the third highest ever – but down 4.5 percent from 2011.
Growth in cable revenues and continued strength in foreign revenues were the primary factors in mitigating the impact of the radio and background music revenue declines. Due to continued industry growth and several major settlements, cable revenues were up 20 percent. ASCAP also saw revenue growth in new media and general licensing categories, including bars and grills, hotels and pop concerts.
ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams comments: “Our goal in 2012 was to ensure a healthy, steady stream of royalties to our members who depend on ASCAP’s advocacy and collective licensing to pay the rent and put food on the table. The music of our members is more popular than ever all around the world, especially through the proliferation of online and wireless services.
“We are navigating in a complex, rapidly changing environment in which huge, cash-rich technology companies are developing business models that fly fast and free with our copyrights. Only a thriving community of songwriters and composers – who can make a decent living from their work – can ensure a vibrant music eco-system going forward. ASCAP’s advocacy for our members is, as always, a critical factor in ensuring fair treatment and payment for their work.”
ASCAP continued to upgrade its business systems in 2012 through IT innovations and ongoing, cost-saving operational improvements that resulted in an 11.3 percent operating expense ratio as compared with 12 percent last year. That ratio remains among the lowest for PROs worldwide.
ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento notes: “Looking forward to 2013 and beyond, the news is good. We are poised to return to year-over-year growth in our domestic revenues and with foreign revenues remaining consistently high, we are looking forward to a bright future for our members in the coming years. Our members depend on our ability to provide the most effective licensing and global administration of performance royalties as well as the fairest, fastest, highest payments possible.
“Through recent advancements in our state-of-the-art distribution technology, which is unparalleled anywhere in the world, we see great opportunity to provide the best advanced administrative and rights management services to creators and copyright owners – large and small.”
In 2012, ASCAP successfully concluded multi-year license agreements with several major licensee groups, including the ABC and CBS Television Networks; the Local Television Music License Committee representing 1,100 local TV stations nationwide; the National Cable Television Association representing cable operators; Turner for all of its channels (TNT, TBS, CNN, etc.); Showtime; and PBS and NPR.
These deals, along with several major multi-year deals signed in 2011, including XM/Sirius Radio, HBO, Viacom, Netflix, Hulu, Rhapsody, Spotify and the radio industry, provide continued certainty for our members and are emblematic of the ongoing strength of the ASCAP licensing model for the future.
ASCAP also expanded its suite of online tools in 2012. A new program, ASCAP OnStage, is an addition to ASCAP’s public performance survey and provides members with a simple online interface that lets them submit their setlists and provides them an opportunity to receive royalties when their music is performed live at venues of all sizes throughout the country.
Another new program, ASCAP Play Music, is a license designed for websites and mobile apps that will make obtaining an ASCAP license easier and more affordable for individuals and small businesses.
Also in 2012, ASCAP launched a redesigned and enhanced mobile app, allowing music creators, publishers and licensees access to ASCAP’s tools on any mobile device.
ASCAP welcomed nearly 25,000 new members in 2012, among them are Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, hit songwriter/rapper Big Sean, composer of “Vampire Diaries” and “Pretty Little Liars” Mike Suby, country songwriter/performers Kip Moore and Jerrod Niemann, regional Mexican group El Pelon del Mikrophone and breakout rapper Kendrick Lamar.
As the dominant creative force in music, ASCAP members continued to take home the lion’s share of industry honors and awards, and to write the most-performed and best-loved music in the world. Just this week, this year’s inductees to the Songwriters Hall of Fame were announced and they are all ASCAP: Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler & Joe Perry, Foreigner’sMick Jones & Lou Gramm, JD Souther, Holly Knight and Tony Hatch (PRS). Tyler & Perry, as well as Lionel Richie, Diplo and Ne-Yo, will be featured speakers at this year’s ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO taking place in Los Angeles on April 18-20, 2013.
[Note: Financial results reported in this press release are un-audited. Independently audited results will be available in May 2012.]