ASCAP and their inadequate survey system

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  • #28047 Reply

    I’ve been seeing hundreds of placements and literally hours and hours of air time on a few cable networks since 2013 (a lot on BTN) and never being paid for them. After many discussions and research with other industry people I have to conclude that ASCAP’s survey system is to blame.

    I’ve made a lengthy post on Facebook about this here :-

    I’d appreciate people spreading the word as this is something ASCAP need to change. Any comments about what else might have happened are welcome, but I have gone over this in some detail over some time.

    #28048 Reply
    Art Munson

    Thanks for the post but this is old news. Many composers that have placements on cable type shows have switched to BMI or SESAC because of ASCAP’s survey system. ASCAP does seem to pay better for film, or so I’ve been told.

    #28050 Reply

    I figured there would be a lot of people who would already know about this, and I’ve heard some other horror stories too. Hope you don’t mind me regurgitating old news, it can’t help to raise awareness until ASCAP sort themselves out.

    #28098 Reply

    ASCAP does more surveying than BMI, so you’re less likely to make money on lower tier cable channels. The folks at ASCAP justify it like this – they’ll lose money by doing the paperwork on every minute of music used on lower tier cable channels like the BTN. They also told me that if you do get music to show up in their infrequent surveys, you’ll likely match or get more than what a BMI writer would.

    Here are some other differences we’ve found when comparing BMI and SESAC to ASCAP:

    ASCAP pays a THM rate for themes (only on TV), which is a really nice bump if you get it, which BMI doesn’t do.

    SESAC takes longer to pay, about one quarter later than BMI and ASCAP. SESAC will claim they pay more. I’ve heard mixed things about this but they are definitely paying a bit more (maybe temporarily) for my UPPM tracks that got switched over last year.

    When I met with SESAC they told me they were starting to pay royalties on trailers, something ASCAP and BMI don’t do.

    BMI has what seems to be more accurate, easier to read statements. That said, all the PROs like some ambiguity in their statements. It’s almost as if they like us to be confused…

    #28100 Reply

    Once again I am grateful for the “”Transparent Candor” that happens on the MLR Forum!! Growing some-what tired of SESAC, and not really seeing the benefits. When hearing about the new ASCAP Royalty Rates; I figured it was a good time to think about jumping ship. I am VERY glad that I did my research before switching into a even worse situation!!

    Still thinking about going back to BMI. I am awaiting results/royalty reports from some major placements, and will make my decision then..

    #28472 Reply

    I gotta chime in here too: STAY AWAY FROM ASCAP!!! Let me repeat that in case I wasn’t clear. STAY AWAY FROM ASCAP!!!!! Matt, thanks for your post. It is a very relevant topic even if it is old news. I was unaware of the situation myself until recently. Other writers definitely need to be informed, especially if you are writing music for TV. By the way Matt, your link on the Facebook post is dead. If you have reposted it somewhere please let me know as I’d like to spread it around.

    My experience in the last 6 months has been that my BMI co-writers have been paid thousands of dollars in performance royalties for placements on CBS Sports and BTN. ASCAP has paid me NOTHING! NADA. ZIP. ZILCH. ZERO. I called ASCAP Member Services about the issue and was instructed to submit a claim with the BMI royalty statements from my co-writers. After radio silence for 2 months, I got an email from ASCAP with the following response: “After researching your television performance claim we can tell you there were no sampled/surveyed performances of your works.”

    So I started telling other writers about my situation and one of them had a friend that worked at ASCAP in the Nashville office. I got in touch and then was passed on to another person at ASCAP. Eventually, that person called me and told me the same thing, “no surveyed performances” and therefore NO MONEY!

    The ASCAP surveying system is an antiquated practice from the 1920s. It is outragous for ASCAP to operate this way. Had I been educated about the issue I would have never joined ASCAP. I hope that by chiming in I can help spread the word. If you are doing anything else Matt to educate other writers please let me know. I want to help and plan to do a blog post on my website.

    Also, to comment on what Mark is saying about if you get your music to show up in a survey then you get a bump. Sure, yeah, you might get paid more, perhaps significantly more, but its like trying to win the lottery. The odds are not in your favor. Most people NEVER win the lottery. So basically, ASCAP is NEVER going to pay you.

    #28473 Reply

    Beatslinger, please do keep us posted on the results of your big placements and the SESAC payouts. How long have you been with SESAC?

    #28474 Reply

    ASCAP pays a THM rate for themes (only on TV), which is a really nice bump if you get it, which BMI doesn’t do.

    Not sure what you mean Mark. I had theme music and background music on five shows in syndication and BMI paid more for theme (T) performances than for background (BI) performances.

    #28475 Reply

    I see statements from all 3 for about 4 years now and the main conclusion that is quite obvious to me is SESAC pays much more for TV commercials.
    As far as cable, network, and streaming goes (for TV shows) I do not see much of a difference.

    The BTN/ ASCAP situation is very frustrating.

    ASCAP seems to be the winner for me when those foreign statements come along. I do like getting 8 statements a year as opposed to 4. I also like the separation of domestic and foreign data. BMI has not been all that impressive when I study foreign royalties earned on my statements

    ASCAP does seem to honor data from soundmouse:

    but soundmouse will not send the data they’d send to ascap to a composer or a publisher.

    Does SESAC honor Tunesat data/ detection reports?

    What about BMI, do they look at Tunesat data when writers protest issues regarding payments?

    #28476 Reply

    Beatslinger, please do keep us posted on the results of your big placements and the SESAC payouts. How long have you been with SESAC?

    I have been with SESAC since 2002

    The forum is correct though, it DOES seem like SESAC takes a lot longer to payout on cues.

    I am still awaiting a couple/few royalty statements to make my decision..

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