ASCAP was the first American performance rights organization, tracking the performance of its members’ compositions and collecting licensing fees on their behalf. The organization made it feasible for individual composers to receive the fees they were due by eliminating the need for them to dedicate their own time and resources to administrative overhead. With the advent of radio during the 1920’s, followed later by other mass broadcast and computer technologies, ASCAP and other performance rights organizations assumed greater importance.
During the early and mid-nineteenth century, music publishers would often issue their own sheet music, with their own versions of popular tunes, generating huge profits for themselves without paying the original composers. Stricter
A group of
The 1920’s brought a new challenge, as
In 1930, a much smaller performance rights organization, the
Many radio stations considered ASCAP’s fees too high. In 1939,
The three major performance rights organizations, ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI, serve the same function for their members, collecting copyright fees from broadcasting groups to distribute to the appropriate copyright holders. ASCAP and BMI both operate on a not-for-profit basis, keeping only administrative fees, while SESAC retains an undisclosed profit from the royalties it collects.
Choate, Pat. Hot Property: The Stealing of Ideas in the Age of Globalization. New York: Knopf, 2005. Passman, Donald S. All You Need to Know About the Music Business. Rev. ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000. Ryan, John. The Production of Culture in the Music Industry: The ASCAP-BMI Controversy. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1985.
Digital recording technology
Radio broadcasting industry