ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the only member-owned performing rights organization in the U.S., representing over 600,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, announced record-breaking revenues and distributions for 2016, Year Two of its six-year strategic transformation plan to secure the future for music creators and publishers in the rapidly changing music world.
ASCAP collected record-high revenues of $1.059 billion in 2016 and distributed more than $918 million to its songwriter, composer and music publisher members. Distributions were up 5.6% over the prior year.
Revenues from ASCAP’s licensing efforts in the U.S. alone grew nearly 6% in 2016 to $759 million, up $42.2 million over 2015, fueled primarily by a 41% increase in revenues from audio streaming services as well as higher revenues from satellite radio and General Licensees, such as bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels, live concerts and more.
Foreign revenues totaled $300 million, up $1.5 million year over year in U.S. dollars. ASCAP’s international revenues would have exceeded last year’s performance by $12.9 million had it not been for the strengthening U.S. dollar which resulted in lower foreign exchange rates.
Domestic distributions of $631 million from ASCAP-licensed and administered performances in the U.S. grew nearly 10%, up $55.5 million over 2015.
ASCAP operates on a not-for-profit basis and delivers about 88 cents of every dollar collected back to members for performances of their music. With a 2016 operating expense ratio of about 12%, ASCAP remains among the most efficient Performance Rights Organizations in the world, while transforming to stay ahead of massive changes in the music industry.
ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews commented: “ASCAP’s record high revenues and distributions in 2016 are a testament to the amazing repertory of music we are privileged to represent, and to our investment in innovations that enable us to continue to grow revenues, leverage our scale and increase efficiencies in our operations. ASCAP is committed to transforming and innovating to secure a healthy future for music creators and publishers. In 2016 alone, we processed over one trillion performances, welcomed 40,000 new members, and secured a steady stream of future royalties for our members by closing multi-year deals across all major platforms, including satellite and terrestrial radio.”
ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams added: “ASCAP’s strong financial results matter for each and every songwriter, composer and music publisher who makes a living from our creative work, from those just starting out to those whose music is beloved around the world. I am also incredibly proud that ASCAP continues to lead the fight for much-needed changes to U.S. music licensing regulations that are grossly unfair to songwriters and copyright owners.”
REVENUE GROWTH IN GENERAL LICENSING
ASCAP’s strategic investments to grow General Licensing revenues continue to pay off for members with a 7.2% annual growth rate over the past four years. ASCAP licensed over 18,000 new businesses in 2016 and also instituted a number of innovations in General Licensing, such as greater automation in reporting to drive compliance and create efficiencies that reduced our cost of new license acquisitions over the last three years by 50%.
ASCAP continues to strengthen and modernize its core operations. ASCAP entered into a new strategic and long-term data agreement with Nielsen to provide greater depth, transparency and reporting and tracking accuracy to ASCAP members.
ASCAP also modernized its employee benefits with a move away from an outdated pension plan towards smarter 401K and retirement savings plans that give employees more control while reducing ASCAP’s future cost base. This change will save the organization between $24 and $32 million in future years.
DIGITAL INNOVATIONS FOR MEMBERS AND LICENSEES
In 2016, ASCAP delivered several innovations to provide best-in-class digital experiences and new support services to members and licensees. These innovations make it easier for members and licensing partners to manage their catalogs and do business with ASCAP.
ASCAP’s website at ASCAP.com was completely redesigned and relaunched, including its dedicated “Member Access” portal, resulting in a 200% increase in member engagement while also lowering costs through better self-service and automation. ASCAP’S public ACE repertory database of over 10.5 million works was redesigned to include ASCAP shares of licensed-works, making it more transparent, easy-to-search and a valuable tool for licensees, music supervisors and members.
MEMBER SUCCESS AND GROWTH
The value of the ASCAP license continued to climb in 2016 thanks to the incredible success of the music of ASCAP songwriters who wrote or co-wrote nine of the top 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart, and wrote 14 of Billboard’s year-end chart-topping songs. Chart-topping members included Justin Bieber, Noah “40” Shebib, Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, Shellback, Ashley Gorley, Drew Taggart, William Larsen, Enrique Iglesias, Mhmd Rahman, Silverio Lozada, Matt Crocker, Joel Houston, Salomon Ligthelm and Matthew West.
In 2016, ASCAP renewed agreements with many of the biggest names in music, including Kelly Clarkson, Max Martin, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Skrillex, Timbaland, Hans Zimmer and the estate of Johnny Marks, writer of Christmas classics like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas.” ASCAP also welcomed The Beach Boys legend Mike Love, Latin superstars Carlos Vives and Fonseca, Adnan “Menace” Khan (producer/co-writer of Desiigner’s #1 song “Panda”), Nashville star Clare Bowen and Karey Kirkpatrick (co-creator of the Broadway smash Something Rotten!).
In 2016, ASCAP demonstrated commitment to nurturing its members’ success. ASCAP convened high-level song camps aimed at crafting future hits, and brought promising young talent together for networking events and intensive workshops dedicated to film scoring, pop songwriting, musical theatre and more. ASCAP showcases remained popular draws at the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW, and the 11th annual ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO was the most successful ever, drawing well over 2,600 attendees to meet face-to-face with their musical heroes for three days of networking, education and inspiration.