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ASCAP delays April payments as coronavirus creates ripple effect through music industry finances

The coronavirus pandemic has already had an impact on music consumption and performance around the world. Performing rights organization ASCAP is the latest company to share changes as a result of the disease.

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams told members in an email that the organization is postponing its scheduled April 6 payments to April 28. He said the delay was caused by late payments from licensees. Williams said ASCAP would transition to a more flexible distribution schedule through 2020 and 2021 as the industry copes with the economic losses of the pandemic.

“As COVID-19 has continued to escalate and more and more of our licensee businesses have shut down, we have had to carefully review our cash forecasts and plan for more disruption to our revenue collections and member distributions,” Williams’ email said. “As I mentioned in my last letter, the pandemic will have a material and negative impact financially on almost every category of licensing, so it is important to ensure that we are prepared for a decline in both revenues and distributions, which is why we took the step weeks ago to freeze numerous operational expenses.”

BMI, the other major performing rights organization, is not expected to see immediate impacts from the virus since it operates under a different model. “However, given the current environment, we do anticipate that BMI’s fiscal year 2021 will be impacted, perhaps not in the first six months, but likely in the second half,” BMI President and CEO Mike O’Neill said in an email to members. “It’s too early for us to tell the extent of the impact, but we are paying close attention as the situation evolves.”

Anna Washenko

One Comment

  1. As a Broadcast Licensee, RMLC and the four PROs should immediately suspend ALL music license payments until the end of the year. As a small broadcaster, we have lost nearly 75% of our business, and yet BMI ASCAP SESAC still insists on basing these exorbitant payments on our gross profits from last year. This is insane. Unless NAB and other rights organizations want to kiss broadcast radio goodbye, those in charge better rethink this real fast. You will see NO revenue for music licenses if broadcasters around the country unite and say, enough is enough…Matters not the “statutory requirements”, act on this now , or else you will see most of your incoming revenues disappear. Im not alone. Many other broadcasters are on the edge, and its time for the big four PROs get a grip on reality.

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