American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

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The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) , based in New York City, is the oldest American collecting society for music products.


ASCAP has the task of protecting the intellectual property of composers, musicians and publishers by recording and controlling public performances of music and films, collecting fees and passing them on to the authors. In Germany, which has GEMA a similar function.


In the early years, music on the radio stations was only played live, and musicians were paid on the spot. After the advent of the record, musicians and composers were increasingly left with nothing. The broadcasters refused to pay to play canned audio. To protect the copyright rights of its members, the ASCAP was founded on February 13, 1914 in New York . Founding members include Irving Berlin , Otto Harbach , Jerome David Kern , Silvio Hein , James Weldon Johnson , Jacob Witmark , John Philip Sousa , Victor Herbert and Gustave Adolph Kerker . Her right to demand royalties was quickly confirmed in court. On January 22, 1917, the Supreme Court ruled that ASCAP had the right to collect fees from live performances.

A monopoly emerged who controlled the American music world in a very short time. Only hand-picked composers and lyricists were accepted as members. Entire musical genres such as country music or rhythm and blues were excluded. As members of this copyright society around 1940, around 1,000 composers influenced popular musical tastes in the USA.

In 1944 the ASCAP doubled its demands on the radio stations. This then boycotted the organization and instead resorted to the material of Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), founded by the broadcasters in 1931 as a separate licensing company . From January to November 1941 program directors had already played old hits and legally unprotected folk music instead of the ASCAP repertoire. The ASCAP lost its monopoly and was forced to open up to other styles of music. Many radio stations also merged to form NBC to reduce production costs.

Initially, rather unknown artists (mainly from the areas of hillbilly, country and blues) were organized in the rival organization BMI, while ASCAP represented the established stars from the music , film and television sectors . After the ASCAP was opened to musicians of all genres, the two organizations hardly differ anymore.


ASCAP awards a variety of awards through the ASCAP Foundation, such as the ASCAP Foundation Musical Theater Award, the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composers Award, the Deems Taylor Award and the Richard Rodgers Award, and more.

Web links


Individual evidence

  1. ^ William Ruhlmann: Breaking Records. 100 Years of Hits . Routledge, New York 2004, p. 37, ISBN 0-415-94305-1 .
  2. ^ A b c Siegfried Schmidt-Joos : Introduction. In: Siegfried Schmidt-Joos, Barry Graves : Rock-Lexikon. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1973, 2nd edition 1975, reprint 1978, ISBN 3-499-16177-X , pp. 11–23, here: p. 13.