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By Scott Fegette | Thursday, August 21, 2014

Songwriters: Make Royalties from Your Shows with ASCAP Plus


It’s hard to make a living as an independent songwriter in today’s music industry—and even more so if you’re not already established in the field.

When budgets are already tight, it’s tempting not to register with a PRO (performance rights organization) if you aren’t anticipating enough (or any!) radio play that could net you a royalty check.

But here’s a reality check for you: If you’re a serious songwriter, you really do need to register with a PRO if you ever expect to see a dime for your work.

ASCAP, a U.S.-based PRO controlled entirely by composers, songwriters, and publishers, offers a very interesting award program to its members. It’s called ASCAP Plus and it’s targeted towards working artists with little to no radio play, but who perform live or have their songs performed regularly in media that ASCAP doesn’t regularly monitor.

To qualify for ASCAP Plus, you also need to be making less than $25,000 a year in performance royalties. If you’ve already read this far, it’s not a stretch to assume this may fit your musical scenario. And if so, you’ll definitely want to consider ASCAP Plus.

Here’s the skinny. If you’re an active member of ASCAP, you can simply register at ascap.com/ascapplus by July 1st of each year in order to register for, and take advantage of, the ASCAP Plus Awards Program. A panel of judges will then review each application annually and award cash prizes to artists based on merit, and relative to all the other artists who have applied.

Although this may sound a bit like an online, membership-based version of “American Idol,” that doesn’t really make ASCAP Plus a contest—just a way in which ASCAP tries to give a boost to its members who are serious songwriters, but not making traditional-channel royalties.

By no means is ASCAP Plus an insignificant program, either. For a bit of context, between 2012 and 2013, ASCAP Plus paid out more than $1.8 million to its participating members.

If you’re serious about songwriting, but light on the income right now, it’s definitely worth your while to apply for the ASCAP Plus award each year.

And of course, be sure to browse our broad selection of music business courses and movies at lynda.com for more help on turning your songwriting skills into a successful music career.


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