Performing rights organization ASCAP may have experienced a successful year in 2009 with revenues of $995 million, an increase of $62 million over the previous year, but ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento stressed Thursday morning in Los Angeles that the organization is facing a number of challenges in the coming year.

During the general annual membership meeting that launched the fifth annual ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo at Hollywood’s Renaissance Hotel, LoFrumento noted that ASCAP and its more than 380,000 members are currently dealing with several issues. They include the struggling economy, the contract renewal timing of traditional media, the growing resistance by new media to pay fair rates, and the vulnerability of the value of the dollar, he said.

Perhaps the most frustrating of these challenges is that numerous new media companies refuse to pay fair rates for music, according to LoFrumento. Companies ranging from websites to mobile companies “are universally refusing to pay fair rates for the use of your music,” he said. “In fact, in some cases, not even a fair rate — no rate.” To combat this problem, ASCAP is legally battling with more than 10 companies for fair license fees.

Turning to last year’s numbers, LoFrumento attributes ASCAP’s high revenues to “aggressive licensing and legal initiatives,” and he noted that the organization’s members saw the benefits. “The money paid out to [ASCAP members] for their performances reached an all-time high of $863 million,” he said. “That’s an increase of over $45 million, or five-and-a-half percent, over 2008.”

Additionally, ASCAP’s foreign revenues last year grew to a record $301.7 million, according to LoFrumento. “This was a result of two factors: the popularity or your music overseas and foreign exchange rates,” he said.

Looking ahead, LoFrumento pointed out that ASCAP is working with government officials in Washington, D.C., to build awareness of rights in digital streaming. “We believe the stream will be the dominant delivery vehicle of music in the future,” he said.

LoFrumento also announced during the membership meeting that ASCAP plans to launch an application for its Member Access Web site (members.ascap.com), which was introduced last fall and allows the organization’s members access to their membership catalog and royalty catalog. The app will be available for iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices in the coming weeks, according to LoFrumento.

ASCAP’s fifth annual “I Create Music” Expo continues through April 24. For more information, visit ascap.com.

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