ASCAP Reports 2012 Financials: Distributed $827 Million

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers says revenue from the cable industry and from abroad offset the downturn from radio and retail.

ASCAP collected $941 million in revenue last year, down 4.5 percent from its 2011 total of $982 million. But royalty payments increased slightly to $827 million, up from $824 million in the previous year.

The decline in revenue was due to royalty payment decreases from the radio industry and from retail background-music services, according to the organization. Although revenue declined last year, it still represented the third-highest collection year in the organization's history.

ASCAP says revenue from the cable industry and from abroad offset the downturn from radio and retail. The organization says it expects to present audited results in its year-end report to members.

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According to ASCAP, the collecting society managed to maintain a high level of royalty payments through careful financial management, which anticipated the revenue declines in those revenue streams.

Looking forward to 2013 and beyond, ASCAP is "poised to return to year-over-year growth in our domestic revenues and with foreign revenues remaining consistently high, we are looking forward to a bright future for our members in the coming years," ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento said in a statement.

An important ingredient in keeping royalties at higher levels is improving cost control. The company points out that it produced an 11.3% operating expense in 2012, down from 12 percent in the prior year.

"We are navigating in a complex, rapidly changing environment in which huge, cash-rich technology companies are developing business models that fly fast and free with our copyrights," ASCAP president/chairman Paul Williams said in a statement. "ASCAP's advocacy for our members is a critical factor in ensuring fair treatment and payment."

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During 2012, ASCAP launched a redesigned and enhanced mobile app, allowing music creators, publishers and licensees access to the society's tools on any mobile device, and offered a new program called ASCAP OnStage, which lets members submit set lists when they perform live so that they can receive royalty payments from the concert venues. Another new program, ASCAP Play Music, is a license designed for websites and mobile apps that will make obtaining an ASCAP license easier and more affordable for individuals and small businesses.

In 2012, ASCAP signed multi-year agreements with several major licensee groups, including the ABC and CBS TV networks; the Local Television Music License Committee, representing 1,100 local TV stations nationwide; the National Cable Television Association, representing cable operators; Turner, for all of its channels; Showtime; PBS; and NPR. The organization says the deals complement similar agreements struck in 2011, which included SiriusXM Radio, HBO, Viacom, Netflix, Hulu, Rhapsody, Spotify and the radio industry.

The society also claimed 25,000 new members in 2012, including Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, Big Sean and composer Michael Suby (The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars).

For a graph of ASCAP's Annual Payments to songwriters and publishers (2008-2012), click here.