ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, topped $1 billion in revenues for the second year in a row. For 2015, ASCAP generated revenues of $1.014 billion, up 1.14 percent from the $1.003 billion generated in 2014.
Within that, domestic receipts grew to $716.8 million, up 9.3 percent from the prior year's total of $655.8 million. ASCAP also increased domestic distribution by 6.2 percent, to $573.5 million. While ASCAP doesn’t break out revenue growth by category until it issues it annual report to members, it says that general licensing grew $11 million, or 9.1 percent, which means that it collected $130.8 million from bars, restaurants, music venues and background music services. That's up from $119.8 million in 2014.
Also, total distributions to its members and foreign performing rights organizations declined to $867.4 million from $883.5 million, a drop of 1.82 percent.
“ASCAP's superlative results mean we are doing the best job possible for our songwriter and composer members even as we advocate for changes to the outdated music licensing laws that disadvantage songwriters in today’s digital world,” ASCAP president Paul Williams said in a statement. “These results are a testament to why the world’s most talented songwriters choose to call ASCAP home.”
ASCAP was more successful in reigning in expenses in 2015, as those costs declined to 12.3 percent of total revenue, likely due to a drop in litigation fees. In 2014 its expenses comprised 12.7 percent of total revenue. Meanwhile, the number of transactions it handled grew to 570 billion, up from 500 billion in the prior year.
Foreign receipts declined 14.1 percent, to $298 million from the prior year’s total of $346.8 million, due to the negative impact of the strengthening U.S. dollar.
“2015 was a winning year for ASCAP members, who are the heart and soul of our organization,” ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews says in a statement. “While the music industry is in the midst of tremendous change, ASCAP has stayed ahead of the curve with a strategic focus on revenue growth, operational efficiencies, technology and service innovations demonstrating that the collective licensing model delivers the best value proposition in the performing rights world… we remain committed to transforming into the most progressive operation ensuring that songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers can enjoy a sustainable living in today's music marketplace."
In addition to the service it provides to its members, Williams added that “ASCAP is a tireless advocate for the rights of music creators who depend on ASCAP to earn a living, whether it’s on Capitol Hill or at the negotiating table, and we are truly invested in their success."
ASCAP says it has more than 10 million songs in its database and a total of 560,000 songwriter, composer and music publishers members, including some who renewed their membership: Iggy Azalea, Calvin Harris, Led Zeppelin and Meghan Trainor among them. 40,000 new members joined during the year, including Fetty Wap.