Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How ASCAP screws smaller artists...

... and by "smaller", I mean all but the two hundred biggest acts in America.

Zoe Keating plays cello, and does fairly well in terms of bringing in an audience and selling tickets. Obviously, there are expenses involved in hiring venues, as she explains:

For example, at one concert I played last month the gross ticket sales for the night were $9336. Of the many expenses deducted, one of the items was $86 to ASCAP.
What is this? This is the nightly portion of a license fee that the hall pays to ASCAP for the permission to perform music by ASCAP artists in their venue.
But not to worry, eh? Because Zoe is playing her own music, and is registered by ASCAP, so she'll eventually get this money back, right?

Er... no:
The customer service representative on the phone said there was nothing for me to claim. He informed me that ASCAP pays out performing royalties only to the 200 top-grossing concert tours, as determined by Pollstar. They also pay royalties for “Live symphonic and recital concerts”, whatever they are (he said I don’t quality for those).
There is some sort of grudging contest where you can register to "win" a tiny portion of the money that ASCAP have collected in your name.

ASCAP have a lot to say about the "theft" of "intellectual property", but they seem to have no problem in stealing money from all-but-200 acts to give to the 200 acts who least need the money.

The difference being, of course, that it's actual money ASCAP are stealing, rather than nebulous, potential, possible money.


2 comments:

Phips said...

well they pay out to the top venues because those are the only ones they really look at. technically they should be polling all venues that have a blanket license or per program license through them but there's just so many that they dont do that. however, if this artist would contact ASCAP directly and specifically tell them that she performed this and this venue they have to pay her royalties. ASCAP is a non-profit and theyre mandated to pay performance royalties when a performance is made.

simon h b said...

Hello, Phips - it's not the 'top venues', it's the 200 top artists who get the money; and as the quote shows, Zoe Keating did contact ASCAP, and it was ASCAP who told her they won't pay her unless she's one of the top grossing artists.

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