American Society Of Composers, Authors, And Publishers (ASCAP) Is Founded In New York City

On February 13, 1914, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) was founded in New York City.

The purpose of this organization was and remains to protect the copyright and performance rights of the works of its members: composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers. Its first director was composer and musician Victor Herbert, an eloquent supporter of musicians' right to receive royalties for the use of their work.

According to the story told about the birth of the Society, the popular composer Victor Herbert became aware of the need for protection of musical creators' rights when he was visiting a hotel and overheard a musician playing a piece of music he had written. He knew that he had not been paid for the use of his music in performance, even though unauthorized public performance of music had been protected by copyright law since 1897. From that time, Herbert worked hard to organize creative artists into a collective and to bring the problem of payment of royalties to the attention of policymakers.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a non-profit performance rights organization that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them accordingly. ASCAP collects licensing fees from users of music created by ASCAP members, then distributes them back to its members as royalties (BMI has a similar method for its members). In effect, the arrangement is the product of a compromise: when a song is played, the user does not have to pay the copyright holder directly, nor does the music creator have to bill a radio station for use of a song.

In 2005, ASCAP collected US$750 million in licensing fees and distributed US$646 million in royalties to its members, with a 12.5% operating expense ratio. In the United States, ASCAP competes with two other performing rights organizations: Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) and the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC).