In the current state of the industry where we all should be supporting each other and fighting the same fight, ASCAP has chosen to retaliate against members who move to another PRO.
As the co-founder and president of SMACKSongs, I read with interest Ed Christman's recent article in Billboard, headlined Shane McAnally's Dispute With ASCAP Puts 'Premium Payments' in Spotlight. I was stunned at the outright half-truths and misrepresentations made by ASCAP in their response to Billboard's queries.
This entire process has been eye-opening as a music publisher -- not just on behalf of Shane McAnally, but on behalf of the dozen other current songwriters we publish at SMACKSongs. How can we encourage our writers to affiliate with a PRO that essentially holds a writer's songs hostage? How can we support an organization that so blatantly tries to retaliate against members if they happen to find a new champion at another PRO? In the current state of the industry where we all should be supporting each other and fighting the same fight, ASCAP has chosen to retaliate against members who move to another PRO. Funny enough, in response to a similar situation involving ASCAP members who had resigned from BMI in the mid-1980s, ASCAP's then-CEO Morton Gould stated: "BMI should treat all writers equally and should not adopt policies that trap writers economically and impede their mobility among organizations." It would be great if ASCAP's current management team held the same beliefs because its current philosophy is to trap writers and their works by making it economically impossible to exercise "mobility among organizations."
When ASCAP implemented the hit song premium in 1994, the purpose was and currently is to (1) reflect the importance to ASCAP's repertory and its licensees of works that achieve high level performances on radio and (2) to compensate members whose works "have a unique prestige value for which adequate compensation would not otherwise be received by such writer members." In Shane's case, ASCAP continued to license his works to radio through 2016. Shane had eight No. 1 records post-resignation that ASCAP licensed to radio -- yet, the co-writers of those same records received premiums from ASCAP while Shane did not. How can the same song have a "unique prestige value" to the radio licensee that benefits one writer but not for another writer on the same song? We believe firmly that the Consent Decree was put in place to prevent this very type of behavior.