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Music must-have: A Friend in the Music Business: The ASCAP Story

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Holidaze? We are already thinking of Cupid and his arrows.
On February 13, 1914, a group of the nation’s most distinguished and popular songwriters gathered in New York to support the mission of ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. A few years later, ASCAP received its mandate from the Supreme Court to collect royalties for the public performance of copyrighted material.
Over the ensuing century, ASCAP has been as prominent a force for the advancement, nurture and financial wellbeing of songwriters as any record label or publishing outfit one could care to name. With a responsive board of directors made up entirely of songwriter/composer and publisher members, ASCAP has defended creators’ rights at every turn against those who would seek to devalue music. Today, with copyright under renewed assault, that mission is as resonant and vital as ever, along with its relatively new role as nurturer of the young artists who represent the future of music.
In A Friend in the Music Business: The ASCAP Story (Hal Leonard Books, $29.99), music writer Bruce Pollock looks back ASCAP’s influence on the music industry over the last 100 years and its continued relevance and importance today.Pollock opens with chapters covering the early triumphs of ASCAP co-founder Victor Herbert, who championed the cause of his fellow composers and lyricist in the halls of Congress in 1913, and Gene Buck, who guided ASCAP through the “Golden Age” of pop songwriting from the mid-1920s through the 1930s.
He then looks at the influences of radio, one of ASCAP’s prime sources of income since its inception in the 1920s and, in time, one of its prime sources of conflict, and television, where Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood songs found a whole new audience through adult-oriented hosts like Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey. The emergence of rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1950s; of Bob Dylan and an influx of new folk, pop, and rock writers soon after; and Barry Gordy’s decision to move his massive catalog to ASCAP in 1971 all get their due.
In bringing the story to the present, Pollock examines the complexities of giving songwriters their just rewards in the age of the Internet.
For 100 years, ASCAP has been guided by the same defining quest to protect the rights of composers and songwriters---in Congress and in the courts, over the airwaves and in cyberspace, at home and abroad. A Friend in the Music Business: The ASCAP Story tells how ASCAP has become, for those who hope to make a living making music, now more than ever, “a friend in the music business.”
Save the pub date: February 4, 2014.

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