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ASCAP Domestic Revenue Topped $1B for First Time in 2021

The performance rights organization had a dip in foreign receipts, but still ended 2021 with a record $1.3 billion in revenue and $1.2 billion in total payouts.

Even with the lingering impact of the pandemic-induced economic downturn, ASCAP managed to eke out $8 million in growth in 2021 to reach $1.335 billion for the year, or up 0.6% from the prior year’s total of $1.327 billion, according financial results released on Tuesday.

Within that, the performance rights organization distributed $1.254 billion, or a 4% increase over the prior year’s payouts to songwriters and publishers of $1.213 billion.

“We know music creators have been deeply affected by the pandemic, and that is why it is so important that ASCAP has delivered more royalties to our members when they need it most,” ASCAP. CEO Elizabeth Matthews said in a statement. “Through our licensing, advocacy and wellness efforts, we strive to provide both economic and emotional support to our members to help them weather these challenging times and to create a brighter future.”

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Breaking out collections by territory, domestic receipts totaled $1.011 billion, a 4.4% increase over the $968.5 million collected in the U.S. in 2020. That represents the first time that domestic collections have surpassed the $1 billion mark. Within that, domestic distributions increased by 2.42% to $912 million from 2020’s $891 million.

On the other hand, foreign receipts fell by 9.7% to $323.5 million from the prior year’s total of $358 million, and ASCAP said that was “due largely to business closures and the lack of vaccinations.”

Despite that decline, ASCAP appears to have paid out more than it collected, with $341 million in foreign collections being disbursed to members for 2021, or an increase of 5.9% from the $322 million paid out in 2020. ASCAP attributed that increased payout to “technological and distribution process efficiencies” and timing.

The organization noted that since the start of its 2015 strategic growth plan in 2015, its collections have enjoyed a 5% compound annual growth rate, while its members have benefited from an overall 6% compound annual growth rate, while domestic distributions enjoy an 8% compound annual growth rate.

“Music creators have no greater champion than ASCAP,” ASCAP chairman of the board and president Paul Williams said in a statement. “The ASCAP team worked extremely hard for our members for the second pandemic year, helping our community to stay healthy, creative, connected and financially stable during this time.”

As part of its annual report, ASCAP outlined ways it enhanced payments to its members during the past year. The PRO said that in 2021:

  • Expanded its Audio-Visual Premium payment plan (the “AVP”) to ensure that ASCAP composers have the ability to share in the success of top-streamed shows on major “over-the-top” (OTT) streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max. ASCAP continues to have in place an AV premium eligibility for top-rated series on cable and broadcast.
  • Accelerated its Symphonic, Recital and Educational distributions to provide much-needed support to those composers and publishers whose livelihoods were especially impacted by the loss of live performance income in the Symphonic and Concert Music field.

ASCAP also outlined the services it delivered to its members in the past year:

  • The organization continued its advocacy for the rights of music creators in Washington, D.C., with dozens of ASCAP members taking part in virtual ASCAP “Stand with Songwriters” Advocacy Month meetings with key members of Congress in 2021, giving lawmakers a chance to hear directly from members about the policy issues that affect their livelihoods from such songwriters as Gene Simmons, Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo, Suzanne Vega, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Rhymefest, Michael Abels, Joss Favela, John Rich, and Matthew West, among others.
  • ASCAP experience educational series was expanded thanks to the now prevalent increased usage of virtual tools, allowing the PRO to host 22 sessions and two feedback opportunities, drawing nearly 17,000 registrants from 93 countries (a 54% increase compared to 2020) and generating over 41,000 views of its original programming, it reported.
  • ASCAP also started a “Wellness Program,” which offered telemedicine services to its members. As part of that it provided curated wellness articles especially for music creators; and ASCAP Experience hosted sessions addressing mental health, mindfulness and more, according to the PRO.

During the year, ASCAP welcomed 58,000 new members, bringing membership to over 850,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.

“Music gives us the gift of hope, which is so critical as we move forward, Williams added in a statement. “We forge ahead with our work in 2022 with inspiration and gratitude for the trust that our members place in us to enable their livelihoods, protect their rights and defend the value of music.”

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