The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publisher, otherwise known as ASCAP, is a form of licensing and monitoring for writers and music-publishers, founded in 1914. ASCAP has become beneficial to artists because it has allowed them to be properly compensated for the use/performance of their work. ASCAP also deals with other tasks, such as the distribution of license fees. The organization disburses the royalties to its members in exchange for securing a public performance. More recently, ASCAP has progressed to using more technological resources to improve the security of these works. However, ASCAP is not the only organization that provides these services.
There are two other competitors, one is the Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), and the other is The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC). Each serve a similar purpose but not all of them have a for-profit mentality at hand or have effectively used technology to their benefit. For example, BMI is a non-profit corporation that intended to reduce the cost of performance right licenses to music users. Even though BMI was more progressive in technology than ASCAP, neither felt the necessity to make integral improvements to their technology. SESAC, on the other hand, ingenuously used the modern technology of the time to generate maximum revenue at minimum cost.
The question then becomes: is a nonprofit mentality and the desire to adapt with technology the best way to effectively compensate writers and music-publishers? In my opinion, I do believe that it is the most effective way to protect your music and to properly get paid for your work. Here is why: according to William Velez in his article, Performing-Rights Collectives: Dinosaurs of the New Millennium, SESAC was already making headway faster than the other two, considering that it was established in late 1992. In 1994, SESAC created a Latin subset called SESAC Latina. During this launch, they developed a digital fingerprint-recognition piece of technology they called Broadcast Data System (BDS). This system offered a twenty four hour headcount of radio performances. Because of this revolutionary advancement, SESAC managed to monitor 8,000,000 hours of radio programming, ten times more then ASCAP or BMI.
This becomes a growing issue for ASCAP and BMI when it comes to retaining their clients who have already signed on. According to Ken Terry’s article Third-Party Politics, SESAC began “stealing” artists from ASCAP by offering the artists more money than ASCAP and BMI. More recently, SESAC has paired with the NEXTUNE App. This app comes with 150 channels of music that target specific business. In addition, each channel includes a performance license so business owners don’t have to pay for the rights to play the music in their establishment, according to PR Newswire US. This app has now increased the amount of times songs are playing, thus giving the artists more income.
As a result, SESAC has become a leading for-profit organization due to its innovative decisions to adapt with technology. Although BMI and ASCAP are still strong competitors, it is clear that SESAC has effectively and efficiently found a way to compensate their clients.
Velez, William. “Performing-Rights Collectives: Dinosaurs of the New Millenium?” In Reflections on American Music: The Twentieth Century and the New Millenium. New York: Pendragon Press, 2000.
Terry, Ken. “Third-Party Politics.” Billboard 107 (22): 64. http://0-search.ebscohost.com.lib.utep.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=9506211309&site=eds-live&scope=site.1995.
PR Newswire. “NEXTUNE Brings SESAC Music to Its Streaming Business Music App.” PR Newswire US, November 2, 2018. http://0-search.ebscohost.com.lib.utep.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=n5h&AN=201811021434PR.NEWS.USPR.NY57370&site=eds-live&scope=site.