• Ah we need Les here to stir the pot ;)
  • I think the Association of Senile Catatonic Ardvark Poachers is just great.....unless you're an advark. Of course I wouldn't expect them to track my music performances or ever get a dime from them.
    • Hi Richard - yes, you are correct in all of these statements. The thing about my situation, however, is that ALL of the cue sheets -- yes, ALL of them -- have been provided to ASCAP. Now, because it's cable (Discovery Channel, Biography Ch, BET, etc.), I don't expect to see huge sums of money. But I still should get paid, I still should get return calls, etc. And I was told that the library received foreign royalties on these same shows long ago...while I was still waiting for the domestic. Note: I don't want you to solve this for me, I can certainly continue to drive it. But awareness of this, and of simiilar/other issues amongst ASCAP membership, is worthwhile to all of us. As you can see from other responses, many members experience the same phenomenon. Thanks for responding to these is appreciated. -Bob
    • Thanks for the info Richard. I know that during the days when I was audio production supervisor for a number of different facilities, I would always be diligent about filling out our library usage and performance cue sheets because, as a composer myself, I appreciated the value of this information. But I also know that many other producers in our organization, it was certainly far from the top of their priority list. I would often attempt to help many of these producers out by making sure "their" usage was correctly reported to the appropriate library or PRO. But, as you say, the real world situation is often one of backlog.
  • Hey Richard! Under ASCAP rules (as posted on their site) the "writer's share" can not be given or sold. The writers share must go to the actual composer:

    "Distributions for Works Made For Hire. As a condition of ASCAP
    Membership, all ASCAP Writer and Publisher Members agree that ASCAP shall
    pay Writer royalties to Writer Members for “works made for hire,” as that term is
    defined in 17 U.S.C. § 101 of the U.S. Copyright Act."

    And also:

    "As a condition of ASCAP membership, all writer and publisher members agree that, even in work-for-hire situations, the writer and not the employer will be paid the writer's share of ASCAP performing rights royalties. In addition, ASCAP's Articles of Association provide that, with only very limited exceptions unrelated to work-for-hire situations, writer's royalties "shall not be sold or otherwise disposed of." Hence, subject only to those very limited exceptions, ASCAP will not honor an irrevocable assignment of writer's royalties but will, notwithstanding such an assignment, pay writer's royalties only and directly to the writer member-in-interest."

    So how is it possible for companies to take the writer share?
  • Sadly, ASCAP looks the other way when it comes to composers being forced to give away their writers shares as a condition of employment. Note that the rules talks about an "assignment" of royalties... that means after the royalties already have been created (via the cue sheet). If a writer is told he must put some executive down as a phony writer, that's not an assignment, it's simply adding an additional writer. And of course, ASCAP says they have no way to tell if writers are "real" or not. Very convenient way to duck any responsibility for the extortion of what likely are millions of dollars of composer royalties every year.

    And of course, they say it's a "composer issue" even when these practices are well-known, well-documented, and operated on an industrial scale. So when ASCAP allows this blatant disregard for the spirit of their rules, of course some bottom-line oriented companies are going to take advantage. After all, if it's OK with ASCAP, that sends a loud, loud message to the industry. The fact that the ASCAP board voted a few years ago NOT to approve a proposal by Doug Wood that would have taken a stand (in words only) against this practice also sends a loud message, as does the fact that a particular animation company, after being jettisoned by SESAC because of their business practices (forcing composers to sign over 30%-50% of the writers share to an alias for the company's President) was welcomed with open arms by ASCAP once again sends a loud message: Forcing writers to give up writers share as a condition of being employed is FINE with ASCAP. And frankly, until ASCAP takes a stand against this blatant disregard for the spirit of their own rules (they write the checks and make the rules here, after all), there's little hope in an oversupplied composer market that individual composers have enough leverage to put a stop to this practice.

    I'll be very interested in Richard's response to this, especially what he thinks the ASCAP Board should do to rectify things. He's now one of the 12 writers in our industry who is in a position to, and has the responsibility to take action on critical business issues like this one. I'm hopeful that he will come down on the side of composers and take a decisive, public stand on this issue when it comes to making things happen on the ASCAP Board. As I said earlier, ASCAP writes the checks and makes the rules here. Only ASCAP is in a position to rectify this situation when it comes to ASCAP writers being forced to give up writers shares as a condition of employment.
  • Richard,
    Seriously, you may be right, my catalog may not be that large and that may be the reason why. On the other hand, I have music on a number of music library publisher titles, have had my music broadcast on PBS, Discovery, History, FOX Network, etc and pretty much the only communication I've ever gotten back from ASCAP has been a quarterly statement saying "I'm sorry, no titles in our survey group" or something to that effect. When I've asked if I was not following proper procedure or asked for assisstance on checking on listing/cue sheets ect. registered of my music with ASCAP, I've not been able to get a returned email or phonecall. It may be that I don't have enough of the right kind of music in the right venues. I've managed to make a decent living at this, regardless, simply by working out my licensing and residual arrangements directly with the client, and as you reccommended, I pretty much always retain all my writers share in these arrangements.
  • First, I'd like to invite everyone to read "Royalties, ASCAP, and the Sea," which I posted under the Business Professionals discussion here on the forum a couple of days ago. I was hoping that if these topics came up on the forum that we could take a calm, professional approach to the discussion. Having said that, I can point out that my issues with ASCAP also have to do with non-payment of royalties for cues that are part of a music library, which is making me wonder if something is broken somewhere related to these types of payments (music libraries). But even beyond that, I share a concern with John that I could never get anyone at ASCAP to return a call or e-mail over a period of a year regarding this problem. This is a customer service issue, pure and simple. We should not have to be matching Stevie Wonder's revenue stream in order to get the couretesy of a reply. I do know that my issues were escalated to the very top of Member Services...yet, still, there has been no response. Any organization, ASCAP, BMI, or The Association of Senile Catatonic Ardvark Poachers, has to do better than that.
  • Pete, Richard: My particular situation goes deeper than that. Most of my cues in the scenario I'm referring to were wrongly attributed to me as a BMI composer. So I had to straighten all that out by contacting the library and by getting all the cue sheets and sending them to ASCAP. Additionally, some of the cues WERE in my ASCAP database, but I was getting paid for NONE of them. Between the corrected cue sheets and the ones in the ASCAP database, I was not only receiving no royalties, but also not getting phone calls and e-mails returned. That's simply unacceptable. But my point here is not to focus on my particular situation, but on the nature or source of the problem(s). ASCAP members, no matter who they are, should not have to go through this. Maybe some members are bringing in smaller royalty checks today, but they could be earning larger ones later and still deserve to be treated now as if they already are.
    • Richard - my case has been escalated up to Seth Saltzman, who is the head of Member Services. I'm waiting to hear back from him before I try anything else. Thanks for the suggestion regarding Shawn... I'll wait a bit before contacting him, if it becomes necessary at all. -Bob
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