ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) released its financial results for 2010 at its General Annual Membership Meeting in New York City.
Total revenues and member distributions were below the record highs reported last year as a result of businesses using music experiencing the impact of a slower economy, unfavorable rate court decisions and a reduced interim radio rate.
The financial distributions to members, at $845 million, were down 2.1% in 2010 versus 2009. Putting this decrease in perspective, no other U.S. performing rights organization has ever reached the $800 million dollar level in distributions. In fact, during the past three years, ASCAP has distributed over $2.5 billion to its member owners.
ASCAP revenue, at $935 million, while 6% below the all time high level reached in 2009, was consistent with the level reached in 2008. The impact of a weak economy has had a lagging effect on ASCAP, resulting in lower payments from those customers paying on a percentage of revenue basis. In addition during 2010, ASCAP received a reduced interim radio rate. The final radio rate will be set at the conclusion of a rate court proceeding, most likely in 2012.
According to John LoFrumento, ASCAP CEO, "ASCAP continues to benefit its member owners by rewarding them financially, by enhancing their career success and by protecting their copyrights. Looking to the future, we see ongoing challenges to member financial distributions. We are working tirelessly to add new licensing opportunities and to utilize new technologies to control operating costs. Over the next twelve months, ASCAP will maintain its fight for fair songwriter and composer compensation through creative licensing negotiation and litigation when necessary and appropriate."
Performing rights organizations around the world are at a critical point in establishing fair compensation for the contributions made by songwriters, composers and music publishers to the success of new and existing online and wireless businesses. ASCAP is leading the fight in the courts and in Washington to generate recognition of the value of the creative content provided by its members to these large and small music leveraging entities. The economic future of all music creators depends on winning and ASCAP's strong effort will continue for the foreseeable future.
Despite significant, yet necessary legal costs associated with the effort to generate fair payment, ASCAP's reliance on new cost saving technologies and very tight expense control resulted in a relatively low 13.9% operating expense ratio. By minimizing operating expenses, ASCAP maximizes financial distributions to members. During 2010 ASCAP's new, state of the art distribution system provided members unprecedented access and control of their works through Member Access. And in a first for a performing rights organization, an iPhone app was created putting the advantages of Member Access in members' pockets while on the go. At the same time, ASCAP's website at ascap.com was redesigned and effectively upgraded with added functionality.
As 2010 came to a close, ASCAP elected its 400,000th member. Over the course of the year, ASCAP again added over 32,000 new members who chose to be a part of the world's leading performing rights organization. ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization owned and governed by its members. This difference is the primary reason why over 600 aspiring and established songwriter, composer and music publishers join ASCAP every week. The member ownership difference, without the distraction of ownership conflict, is a clear reason why ASCAP can better meet the needs of serious music creators.
The continuing success of ASCAP members was made clear in a recent analysis of Billboard's first 1,000 #1 hits. Since 1952, 709 ASCAP writer members dominated those 1,000 #1 hits, more than all the other performing rights organization affiliates combined. And in 2010, many important new members joined ASCAP, including an incredible group of songwriters and producers like Justin Bieber, Boi-1da, Melanie Fiona, Gabriel Flores, Evan Frankfort, Savan Kotecha, Lucero, No I.D., Kevin Rudolf, T.I., and Julieta Venegas, and some outstanding composers such as Karrin Allyson, Joshua Bell, Doug Cuomo, Rupert Gregson-Williams, Sharon Isbin, Tim Jones, Fred Sherry, and John Sponsler.