American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers collected $933 million last year, an 8% increase from the $863.3 million gathered in 2007, management of the member-owned organization announced at the annual meeting that kicked off its New York Sessions event.

At the same time, payouts increased 10.2% to $817 million from the $741.3 million paid out in 2007.

For the period, operating expenses came in at an all-time low of 11.3% of revenue. In the prior two years, the organization's expense ratio was 11.9% and 12.1% in 2006.

But the organization added that despite its record revenue collection, it
"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," the organization said in the announcement on its financials.

"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, said, "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."

He said 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. He also said they must give music creators fair compensation, considering the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent and earned annually by these digital companies.

ASCAP continues to offer an array of programs and initiatives, including: "A Bill of Rights for Songwriters & Composers"; ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO, an April 23-25 national conference in Los Angeles, dedicated to songwriting and composing; Mediaguide, which tracks broadcast and Internet radio performances via digital fingerprinting technology; PREP (Performing Rights Enterprise Program), a technology platform that gives members online
access to ASCAP's performance and royalty distribution databases; ASCAP Network, an online music showcase delivering nearly 3 million streams a month; and MusicPro Insurance, which provides affordable instrument, studio and tour insurance coverage to thousands of music professionals, regardless of performing rights organization affiliation.