ASCAP revs up, operating expenses down

2011 revenues totaled $985 million

Performing rights org ASCAP released its final tallies for 2011 today, with revenues up, and operating expenses down.

2011 revenues totaled $985 million, a 5.4% increase over the year previous, and the org’s second highest year-end tally ever. The org’s operating expense ratio declined 2% to 11.9%, with overall expenses down $13 million.

A major growth area was foreign revenues, which increased by $50 million from 2010 for a total of $347 million collected internationally. However, some of that increase can be tied to the weakening of the U.S. dollar.

“Year over year, the dollar was weaker last year than in 2010,” ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento told Variety, “so our collections increased by roughly $13.6 million just as a result of the (currency difference)… But even if the currency rates had been exactly the same, our members would have walked away with a little over $36 million dollars more in international revenue, proving the popularity of our members’ repertory.”

Domestically, revenue was largely flat, with gains from cable TV revenues (up $15 million) and new media revenues (up $7.5 million) somewhat offset by ASCAP’s legal loss against background music company DMX, which LoFrumento says reduced domestic revs by $16 million. (The org is appealing the decision.)

However, operating expenses were down by roughly $13 million, with the org having consolidated certain departments, reduced legal fees and cut headcount.

In 2011, ASCAP tied up license negotiations with HBO, XM/Sirius Radio and Viacom, as well as bringing in streaming service Spotify, as well as Netflix and Hulu, under blanket license agreements. Nonetheless, the $7.5 million increase in new media revs — for a total of $25 million — leaves room for improvement.

“New media, for us, has not yielded the amounts of money that we had hoped for five or seven years ago,” LoFrumento said. “That’s a challenge, it’s something to work for. … But I think about cable TV 20 years ago — back then, ASCAP was getting about $2 million dollars from our first cable contracts, and today from cable we’re getting $170 million. So it took a long time for it to grow, and I hope we’re planting the seeds in new media and that will also grow.”

Also, the org has announced a trio of internal exec moves, with Vincent Candilora promoted to evp of licensing (where he will oversee both traditional and new media licensing), Roger Greenway named evp of international, and membership evp Randy Grimmett to take charge of an expended membership department.

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