Celebrating ASCAP at 100

by | Feb 26, 2014 | Music Contracts & Law

ASCAP hit its 100-year milestone on February 13th. For an entire century, the leading U.S. performing rights organization has made it possible for American songwriters, composers and music publishers, who create the music the world loves, to thrive alongside the businesses that use their work. As it approaches its birthday, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is celebrating its 100-year history – and looking ahead to its future – by launching its 100 Years, 100 Days campaign and website.

The site features an interactive timeline of ASCAP’s rich history. Each day a new year will be unveiled, revealing a fascinating trove of photographs, facts and important milestones that tell ASCAP’s – and America’s – musical story in an exciting new way. The ASCAP100 site  also debuted a commissioned short film, Why We Create Music, directed by Michael Marantz, providing a behind-the-scenes look into the creative process of a veritable who’s-who of today’s top songwriters and composers collaborating on an original score.

The film combines interviews and the musical gifts of 15 ASCAP members – all of whom are at the top of their field and have been recognized by Pulitzer Prizes, Grammys, Emmys, Oscars and Dove Awards: Aloe Blacc, Claudia Brant, Carter Burwell, Amy Grant, Josh Kear, Savan Kotecha, David Lang, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, Bear McCreary, Ne-Yo, Stargate (Tor Hermansen & Mikkel Eriksen), Dan Wilson and Bill Withers.


ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams says, “Since ASCAP is its songwriter, composer and music publisher members, this is an exciting opportunity to honor and thank the men and women whose music has moved the world for 100 years. ASCAP’s story began with a group of visionary leaders coming together to build a sustainable future for music creators and music lovers alike. The ASCAP100 site shows how our unwavering commitment to that mission is as strong today as it has been throughout our incredible history.”

Since its founding, ASCAP has played a vital role in helping American music creators embrace the country’s founding ideal of freedom of expression by ensuring they’re rewarded for their work. The organization has seen its ranks grow from a small band of music visionaries in New York City in 1914 to 470,000 current members – a majority of which have joined in just the last four years. ASCAP processes a staggering 250 billion performances annually, resulting in $4.2 billion in distribution to members in the last five years alone. And its reach is international: ASCAP works with reciprocal partners in more than 100 countries to diligently collect foreign performance income – an increasingly large percentage of overall revenue, now at about one-third.

Perhaps most importantly, the ASCAP100 site serves as a reminder of ASCAP’s ability to adapt with changing technology and industry paradigms. When it was founded, ASCAP helped its members collect earnings from a single type of performance royalty; today, it tracks revenues from every type of public performance imaginable in an ever-increasing variety of platforms – from an underscore in a TV show, to radio, to live concerts, to myriad performances on licensed wireless and online platforms. As the number of performances promises to multiply in the century ahead, ASCAP’s proven ability to adapt assures its members will be compensated for types of performances as unfathomable to them now as Spotify was to its founders.

The site launches with the interactive timeline; as each year in ASCAP’s history is revealed online, a wealth of new content becomes available, including key events in ASCAP history, world history, and relevant artwork. The site bridges the gap between old and new, as a Spotify embed of an important song or musical work and the modern day impact of ASCAP’s historic achievements is included with each year. With a constantly changing music industry, ASCAP is always evolving to lead in licensing new media. The site also includes a Thunderclap widget to allow visitors to schedule a “Happy 100th Birthday, ASCAP” wish via social media.

Given the rapidly changing music industry, performance rights organizations have to evolve, too, and no one is adapting as quickly as ASCAP. Processing over 250 billion performances a year, no other entity can do what ASCAP does as accurately and as quickly as they can, nor provide the level of performance information and detail that they do. Having already accomplished 100 years of success in the U.S., the world’s largest producer of creative works will continue to pave the way in licensing new media and adapting to rapidly evolving business models.