ASCAP Collections Rose to $1.3 Billion in 2020, With Huge Streaming Gains Offsetting Business Closures

The PRO saw streaming revenues rise by 28%, favorably tipping the scale despite a 30% decrease in income from venues, restaurants and other brick-and-mortar businesses.

ASCAP music publishing pro
Courtesy ASCAP
The pandemic had little adverse affect on music publishing collections in 2020, judging from a report released Tuesday morning by ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) that showed the performing rights organization collected $1.327 billion for songwriters and publishers during the year — a jump of $53 million from 2019.
Breaking it down globally, the international market in particular brought in significant gains. Foreign revenue was up by 9%, to $358 million. The bigger part of the picture, domestic revenue, saw a more modest increase of 2.5%, to bring in $969 million.
ASCAP pointed out that, domestically, huge gains for audio streaming revenue offset almost equally massive losses of income arriving from the largely shuttered businesses that usually play music as part of their everyday existence. Assuming streaming doesn’t decrease automatically as music venues, bars and restaurants come back online, that augurs especially well for leaps in revenue in 2021.
According to ASCAP, domestic streaming revenue increased by a phenomenal 28% in 2020. Audio/visual streaming revenue was also up, if less dramatically, by 8%.
On the inevitable downside during a largely quarantining year, the PRO saw a 30% decrease from the licensed sector that includes live concerts, music venues, retail stores, hotels, bars and restaurants.
ASCAP, a non-profit, noted that of that $1.327 billion brought in, $1.213 billion in royalties was distributed to publishers, composers and songwriters, an increase of 2.5% for the year.
“2020 challenged all of us unlike any other year in modern history. It also defined ASCAP’s dedication to our members,” said ASCAP’s CEO, Elizabeth Matthews. “That meant strengthening our commitment to our mission to serve our songwriters, composers and music publishers by taking every step necessary to secure their livelihoods and careers. Inspired by our members each and every day, the ASCAP team proved that innovation, efficiency and progress really can be escalated in a crisis.”
Said Paul Williams, ASCAP’s chairman/president, “The team worked extremely hard and under incredibly difficult circumstances to make up for revenues lost due to the pandemic and to deliver the financial security and support that music creators need to survive the crisis of our lifetime. Their work will have an impact for years to come and as an ASCAP member, I am deeply grateful.”
As part of its annual report, ASCAP pointed out the addition of 58,000 new members to its 800,000-plus roster of writers and publishers. The org also put a spotlight on how its Fight for Changes initiative looked to meet the racial focus of the year by raising money for Color for Change and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, among other emphases.