ASCAP is a membership association of more than 120,000 U.S. composers, songwriters and publishers of every kind of music and hundreds of thousands worldwide. ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from the membership.

ASCAP protects the rights of its members by licensing and distributing royalties for the non-dramatic public performances of their copyrighted works. ASCAP's licensees encompass all who want to perform copyrighted music publicly. ASCAP makes giving and obtaining permission to perform music simple for both creators and users of music.



ASCAP receives payment for public performances of songs and compositions by negotiating license fees with the users of music (radio, TV, cable, bars, clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, concert halls, web sites, airlines, orchestras, etc.) and distributing these monies to members whose works were performed.

ASCAP pays directly and fairly. ASCAP is guided by a "follow the dollar" principle in the design of its payment system. In other words, the money collected from television stations is paid out to members for performances of their works on television; the money collected from radio stations is paid out for radio performances, and so on. ASCAP tracks music use on these and other media and live venues to determine which music has been performed, and the appropriate writers and publishers to be paid.

The value of each performance is determined by several factors, among them the amount of license fees collected in a medium (television, cable, radio, etc.), the type of performance (visual vocal, background music, theme song, jingle, etc.) and the economic significance of the licensee (how much a station pays us).

There are billions of performances licensed by ASCAP each year. ASCAP is committed to paying our members for these performances fairly, accurately and efficiently. ASCAP collects and distributes more money in performance royalty income than any other organization and our payment system is by far the fairest and most objective in the U.S.

Because ASCAP is owned and governed by its members, we have a strong commitment to maximizing payments to members. In most situations, you will find that ASCAP pays more than our competitors over the life of a copyright.



Once you've registered your works with ASCAP, they become part of the ASCAP repertory for which we collect performance royalties. We do this by negotiating with and collecting license fees from the users of music - our customers - who perform the works in our repertory.

Most customers pay ASCAP an annual blanket license fee for the right to use any music in the ASCAP repertory. Some local radio and television stations opt for a per program license, under which they only pay ASCAP for programs containing ASCAP music not otherwise licensed. Every penny we collect, less operating expenses, is distributed to our members whose works were performed.


  • the three major television networks: ABC, CBS and NBC
  • public television - the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and its affiliated stations
  • the majority of the 11,000 cable systems and virtually all of the cable program services
  • over 1,000 local commercial television stations, including affiliates of the Fox, Paramount (UPN) and Warner Bros. (WB) Networks
  • the Univision Television Network
  • about 11,500 local commercial radio stations
  • about 2,000 non-commercial radio broadcasters, including college radio stations and National Public Radio (NPR) stations
  • hundreds of background music services (such as MUZAK, airlines)
  • about 2,300 colleges and universities
  • about 5,700 concert presenters
  • over 1,000 symphony orchestras
  • over 2,000 web sites
  • tens of thousands of "general" licensees: bars, restaurants, hotels, ice and roller skating rinks, circuses, theme parks, veterans and fraternal organizations and more




Flow Chart

Each year, there are billions of performances of ASCAP music in the hundred thousand or more broadcast and live venues we license throughout the country. Whenever it is economically sensible, ASCAP will conduct a census survey, or complete count, of performances in a medium. ASCAP is able to count all performances in a medium when the cost of collecting and processing accurate performance information is a low enough percentage of the revenues generated by that medium.

Where a census survey is impractical, we conduct a sample survey designed to be a statistically accurate representation of performances in a medium. All times of the day, all days of the year, every region of the country and all types and sizes of stations are represented in the ASCAP sample surveys. The greater the fee a licensee pays us, the more often that licensee is sampled. For example, a station that pays us $20,000 in licensee fees is sampled twice as much as a station that pays ASCAP only $10,000.