Last time we met, we went over the benefits of joining a Performance Rights Organization (PRO). We covered one of the three PRO’s found in the United States, BMI. We dove in a bit, going over the costs of joining and what they offer to their members. This time we will take a look at ASCAP or the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Taken straight from the ASCAP website; "We are the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), a membership association of more than 500,000 US composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music. Through agreements with affiliated international societies, we also represent hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. We are the only US performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from our membership."
Just like BMI, ASCAP collects the performance royalties on behalf of the composer. Joining ASCAP requires a fee, 50 dollars for a songwriter. If you are applying as a music publishing company the fee is also 50 dollars, much lower than that of BMI which currently 150 dollars for a sole proprietor and 250 dollars for a corporation.
Like BMI, ASCAP offers its members various benefits. ASCAP seems to offer its members more though. Benefits ranging from Web tools, designed to help artist promote and sell their music. Discounts are offered on travel, including car rental from Avis and Hertz. ASCAP even offers discounts on hotels. They also offer discounts on software; including one of my favorites MasterWriter, a tool developed for songwriters that includes a rhyming dictionary with over 100,000 entries. ACAP, Like BMI offers its members discounts on education, music gear and magazine subscriptions.
So to which PRO do you affiliate? Look into both associations carefully, do some research. Ask fellow musicians and find out if they have had any experience with the organizations. Ask them what have been the pros and cons after joining and what has been their experience. Call and email both organizations, see if they are willing to answer any questions that you might have and have open communication with you. Do not be afraid to ask them any questions as signing up with ASCAP or BMI will lock you into a contract. At the moment, ASCAP's contract for a writer or a publisher exists on a year-to-year basis and is terminable in any given year. On the other hand BMI's contract for writers is 2 years and for publishers the length is 5 years.
With a bit of research you will have the tools to make the best decision for your music career.
More information on ASCAP or BMI can be found on their websites.