What Is ASCAP Music? A Thorough & Detailed Review

*This article may contain links to affiliate products & services. We have reviewed these services to try and ensure the highest quality recommendations*

Written by Ramsey Brown.

Unfortunately for artists — the royalties that your music generates doesn’t just fall from the sky and automatically land into your bank account. As backwards as it sounds, it's a lot of hard work for a musician to actually get paid for their hard work. 

Sounds complicated right? Well, music royalties are notoriously complicated. Then when you factor music copyrights and license agreements into the equation, the complexity is really too overwhelming for one artist to bare on their own. 

Thankfully, there are organizations who do the heavy lifting and relieve this burden for musicians. So that they can focus on what they do best — making music. 

It would essentially be impossible for an artist to go door-to-door collecting all of their royalties on their own behalf. Which is exactly why Performing Rights Organizations were created. 

These organizations (better known as PROs) provide intermediary services to ensure that songwriters and publishers are adequately paid for the use of their music in public settings.  

To summarize, PROs collect public performance royalties. When a song is played in public, meaning on any kind of radio (AM/FM, streaming, or satellite), in a venue, or TV shows and commercials, it is required that they pay for the use. The PRO collects those payments, and distributes them to the rights holders.

Although the main highlight of a PRO is that they get musicians paid, they actually offer a lot more beyond just money. ASCAP is one organization in particular who has stood by their commitment to protect the rights of creators — working to elevate their voices and to defend the overall value of music.

If you are in the music business, it’s likely that you have heard of ASCAP before. With over half a million registered members, you may even be affiliated with them yourself. But if you don’t know a thing about ASCAP and want to learn more about the services and benefits they offer — you’ve come to the right page.   

In this article, we're going to discuss ASCAP in full depth; touching on it’s function, mission, benefits, pros and cons, pricing, and even similar PRO alternatives. Let’s dive in! 

What is ASCAP Music?

ASCAP, or more specifically known as the ‘American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’ is a non-profit Performance Rights Organization that provides licensing, copyright protection, and royalty allocation (among other services) to their members around the world. 

What stands out the most about ASCAP is that it is founded and governed by the composers, writers, and music publishers that make up its membership. Originating in 1914, it is also the oldest of all the major PROs in the United States.

The span of ASCAP’s outreach is incredibly vast. As of now, more than 850,000 creators are registered with them. They represent more than 11 million pieces of music and collect streaming and performance royalties on the behalf of each composition.

In 2020 alone, they collected $1.327 billion in revenues to distribute in royalties to their members. Because ASCAP is a team of creators passionate about supporting other creators, they make continuous efforts to protect and advocate for the good of musicians. 

Aside from the company’s strong integrity and outstanding track record within the music industry, they also offer a wide range of benefits and services to their members. Below we’ll discuss some of the major perks members can look forward to when they are registered with ASCAP:

ASCAP Member Benefits & Perks

Aside from the company’s strong integrity and outstanding track record within the music industry, they also offer a wide range of benefits and services to their members. Below we’ll discuss some of the major perks members can look forward to when they are registered with ASCAP:

Wellness Program

When ASCAP says they support their members every step of the way, they really mean it. The ASCAP Wellness Program was developed largely for their music creator members, intended to help nourish their body, mind and spirit in order to fully be the best creative they can be. 

ASCAP members get significant discounts, or even free access to services that support mental health, mindfulness, exercise, and nutrition. From gym memberships, personal fitness guidance, online counseling, Teladoc consultations, meditation therapy, and more.

US Alliance Federal Credit Union Membership

When you are a member of ASCAP, you can also opt to be a member of the US Alliance Federal Credit Union. This full-service not-for-profit financial institution offers a full range of checking, savings, credit cards, and loan products, as well as various online banking services. 

Members have access to 6,000 branch facilities and 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the country. They also offer financial education, investing services, plus more. 

Travel Discounts 

Vehicle Rentals can be pretty expensive nowadays… but not if you're an ASCAP member. When registered with the PRO, you will get exclusive vehicle rental rates, as well hotel discounts. These types of amenities aren’t ones you can expect from other kinds of performance rights organization memberships.

Career Development Workshops

By offering members a wide variety of workshops, classes, and courses geared around music and business, they seek to enhance their member’s knowledge and overall careers. These member exclusive workshops cover topics such as songwriting, musical theater, composing, music business 101, plus more.

Some of these can be accessed online, and others are in person. You may even find celebrity guests or famous instructors leading these courses. This is a huge benefit only ASCAP members can enjoy. 

Licensing and Publishing

ASCAP doesn’t just stop at collecting their members' performance royalties. They’re also the composition’s distributor and issue licenses to music users. They take care of the entire process of royalty splits during distribution by allocating the money to the proper songwriters and their publishers. So you never have to worry about doing this dirty work yourself. 

“I Create Music” EXPO Eligibility

ASCAP’s "I Create Music" EXPO is the first and only national conference dedicated to songwriting and composing — that ASCAP members are eligible to attend. 

During this exclusive event, attendees have the opportunity to schedule a one-on-one session with a hit songwriter, composer, music publisher, record company executive, Film/TV music executive, online marketing expert, music attorney or ASCAP executive. 

This expo is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that has helped many find their way to success. Out of all of the many benefits of being in the ASCAP community, the chance to attend this event may be the best advantage of them all. 

Other ASCAP Member Benefits & Perks:

  • Discount on membership to the Songwriters Hall of Fame

  • Discounts on health, dental, property, and life insurance through the MusicPro program

  • Discount on ASCAP Web Tools for online marketing and sales

  • Discounts on any music-related purchases or services

  • Instrument and studio insurance 

  • Networking events and industry opportunities 

How To Become an ASCAP Member?

First and foremost, there is an application process required in order to become an ASCAP member. They have three different membership options to choose from, depending on what type of creator you are. 

  • Writer & Publisher 

  • Writer 

  • Publisher 

Each application has a nonrefundable fee of $50, or $100 if you are opting as a writer & publisher. ASCAP also requires applicants to be over the age of 18 when applying online. 

When applying, you will need to provide certain documents and information such as legal name, stage name, mailing address, SSN, etc. The process is pretty straightforward and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. 

After submitting your application, you will receive an email immediately confirming it was received. If no further information or documents are needed from you, you should have a response from ASCAP within 10 days of submitting. 

Not everyone gets approved for an ASCAP membership. In the case that you are declined, you will be sent an email explaining the reasons for your ineligibility. If you are interested in applying for an ASCAP membership, click the link below to start your application:

ASCAP Pros and Cons

So, you're thinking of signing up with ASCAP? Well, it is going to be an excellent decision and investment for your music career. But before making any big decision, you need to weigh out all of the pros and cons involved. Below you will find both positive and negative aspects of ASCAP that we feel are worth mentioning.  

PROS:

  • Amazing Service - In comparison to other licensing and copyright protection performance rights organizations, ASCAP gives all that you need and much more, which is why their service is considered one of the best in the business.

  • Easy Sign Up - If you want to sign up with ASCAP, you're free to do so as a songwriter, publisher, or both. The application process is very straightforward. The average response time is only around 10 days, so you won’t be sitting around long waiting to know if you are approved or not. 

  • Affordable Pricing - ASCAP doesn’t charge any annual or hidden fees to members. The only money you will pay is for the $50 or $100 application fee. They offer the cheapest enrollment among all major PROs in the US.  

  • Member Benefits - As we mentioned above, an ASCAP membership comes with a ton of great benefits aside from the already amazing music benefits offered. From discounts, exclusive networking & event access, health and wellness care, banking, plus much more. 

CONS:

  • Long Royalty Payment Periods - ASCAP is infamous for one thing, late royalty payments. Of course the time span varies from artist to artist, but sometimes it can go beyond 6 before you get your royalty check. 

  • Larger Cut - The percentage cut from your royalties might be greater than you'd expect, which can be a bummer for some artists. However, this cut is well worth it considering 

4. Taylor Red TikTok Promo

ASCAP might be readily available for all new and established musicians, songwriters, and publishers. But if you're looking for alternatives that provide other benefits as well, then you should check out the other major PRO options:

SESAC

SESAC Music, more specifically known as the Society of European Song Authors and Composers, is the second oldest performance rights organization in the U.S. It is, however, an invite-only registration platform.

If we talk about big names, SESAC has currently signed Adele and many others and even had the likes of Bob Dylan and Mariah Carey in the past in their star-studded list of musician members.

SESAC has over 30,000 members, along with more than 750,000 copyrighted songs they're collecting royalties off, so it makes SESAC quite a premium PRO in comparison to others available. There are also many cool benefits and a short royalty payment period associated with SESAC, which is really cool.

BMI

BMI or Broadcast Music Inc. is another top-rated performance rights organization. It is actually the most popular and largest PRO in the vicinity of the United States.

Superstars from Kendrick Lamar to Taylor Swift and many others have been signed to BMI. However, one of the main benefits of BMI Music is that it is free for any songwriter to sign up.

But the prices are high if you're a newbie publisher or a company, you're going to have to pay a fee of $150 to $250 respectively. On the other hand, this signing definitely shows value in terms of their high-quality rights protection and royalty collection services. So, you should definitely test them out and see if you're a good fit.

Wrapping Up

If you are eligible for an ASCAP membership, we highly recommend you do so. The affordable sign-up fees, amazing benefits, professional music services, plus everything else they offer to musicians is exactly why they are one of the most praised and highly used PROs in the world. 

In addition, you'll be able to collect all the streaming, playing, and performance royalties from around the world when they are licensed through ASCAP. This means, you'll be able to focus on creating amazing music while they take care of all the royalty collections.

We hope that you learned a lot from this review and that you're going to have an incredible musical career ahead of you that will be fast-tracked with the help of ASCAP.


When your song is ready to go, it's time to start promoting it to potential fans! Omari has the best organic promotion services money can buy. With packages for Spotify, Apple Music, Instagram, and YouTube, we will get your music the traffic and attention it deserves! Click below for more information.  


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