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ASCAP Payouts Top $1B for Second Straight Year, Total Collections Rise 7.26%

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) says in 2018 its collections grew 7.26% to $1.227 billion in the year -- up from $1.144 billion in 2017. The performance rights…

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) says in 2018 its collections grew 7.26% to $1.227 billion in the year — up from $1.144 billion in 2017. Overall, the PRO noted that its total distribution to members and publishers topped the $1 billion mark for the second year in a row.

Of ASCAP’s collections, $906 million came from domestic receipts, representing a 7.09% increase over 2017’s $846 million U.S. collections. Its foreign receipts totaled $321 million, up 7.7% from $298 million in the prior year.


The $1.109 billion ASCAP paid to artists and publishers in 2018 comprises $814 million in domestic distributions with another $295 million paid in foreign distributions. The domestic distribution increased 12.6%, or a total of $91 million from the $723 million distributed in 2017; while foreign distributions showed a 3.87% growth from the prior year’s $284 million.

“ASCAP’s outstanding 2018 results were driven by our team’s laser focus on making smart, strategic deals to yield growth and stability for our members,” ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews said in a statement. “Four years into our six-year strategic plan, we are seeing healthy year-over-year compound annual revenue growth rates averaging 7%. In 2018 alone, our commitment to efficiency and innovation allowed us to pay more than $100 million more to our members in distributions than the prior year all while we continue to take the steps necessary to protect their future. “

She added the PRO owes its success “to the popularity of the ASCAP music repertory, which is beloved and enjoyed by listeners around the world on every platform.”

ASCAP noted that it has improved member services, including introducing an “interactive features that allow members to visualize their earnings across multiple pay periods, as well as a new member enrollment experience which simplifies the account setup process.” Furthermore, ASCAP said it extended its innovation into the mobile space last year, launching a downloadable Mobile Pass that enables members to share information more easily with collaborators and simplifies registering songs.


“ASCAP members know that they belong to an organization that is always in their corner, whether we are nurturing their early careers, closing important licensing deals with music users or fighting for their rights in Congress 2018 was a year of great progress for songwriters and composers with the passage of the Music Modernization Act,” ASCAP chairman of the board and president Paul Williams said in a statement. “As we go forward, ASCAP will continue to put its resources toward securing every dollar earned by our members and advocating to ensure that they can have a sustainable livelihood.  There is still more work to do to modernize music licensing laws and bring us closer to a free market and fair value for songwriters’ creative work.”

ASCAP releases its financials every year to coincide with its “Create Music Expo,” this year being held in Los Angeles beginning Thursday.

ASCAP said its audio streaming revenue and general licensing had increased, giving percentages but not supporting data like the revenue amounts involved. For the last three years ASCAP has declined to reveal a breakout of its revenue by media, something it previously did annually until 2015. 

The non-profit organization only offered a rough percentage for its overall cost structure, saying it was near 10% of revenue — which would put that amount at about $123 million. But it also no longer reveals how much it is spending on its various cost centers, something it also previously disclosed until 2015.

During 2018, ASCAP noted, its talent team had made a number of signings landing artists and songwriters Migos, Cardi B, Alicia Keys, Louis Bell, Starrah, St. Vincent, Savan Kotecha, Greg Kurstin, French Montana, Miguel, Mike Will Made-It, Kehlani, Calvin Harris, Gucci Mane, Marco Antonio Solís, Goldlink, Meek Mill, Jared Gutstadt, Ashley Gorley, Joseph Trapanese, David Vanacore, James Taylor, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, Natti Natasha and the estates of Bob Marley and George Michael, among others. It said new members included songwriters Amy Allen (Halsey, “Without Me”) and Scott Harris (Shawn Mendes co-writer) and film composer Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL).