PRO SERIES Considerations of ASCAP & BMI Part II: ASCAP

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We’re back with round two of our PRO series, Considerations of ASCAP and BMI. This article will focus on the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). In Part I, we laid down some fundamentals so if certain terms sound new be sure to check out the first article.

ASCAP was founded in 1914, making it the first PRO in the U.S. Similar to BMI, it is headquartered in New York City. In 1919, ASCAP joined with the Performing Rights Society (PRS) of Great Britain to permit each respective organization the right to represent each other’s members’ in their respective territories. Notable members of ASCAP include Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and The Beatles as well as Kendrick Lamar, Katy Perry, and Ariana Grande.

ASCAP has grown popular among the indie artist community because its founders are musical artists, composers, and publishers themselves who can directly relate to the struggles faced by artists. ASCAP’s contracts are “non-exclusive” which makes it possible for foreign artists to become members (foreign artists may also be able to join BMI as well. Artists should always get permission from their country’s PRO before seeking U.S. representation and don’t forget to file out U.S. tax forms!). Their contracts automatically renew on a yearly basis and there is a one-time $50 application fee for registering as a writer and publisher (so $100 if you register as both). Similar to BMI, we don’t recommend you quit your day job as royalty payouts are based on complex calculations and paid out 6-7 months after the end of a quarter.

We liked that their site has a simple category breakdown of the different genres they service and displays the abundance of workshops they offer their members in various locations (Nashville, Los Angeles, New York City). You can even research data relating to music material via their ASCAP Clearance Express (ACE) feature. Their website has a lot of information to sift through which can make it seem a bit overwhelming.


➢   Clearly lays out the genres they provide service for

➢   Offers lots of workshops and opportunities for aspiring artists throughout the year, perfect networking and education for newbies

➢   Database “ACE” that allows you to research files online



➢   Website layout has a lot of information that can seem overwhelming to sift through

As always, it’s important for you as an independent artist to do your own research to understand how the industry works and affects you! Happy researching!

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