Well, I’m done with the first day of the ASCAP Music Expo. I’m chillaxing at the picturesque Safari Inn here in beautiful Burbank. Tired, but fun day.
When I booked my motel in Burbank, I didn’t realize how close it is to downtown Hollywood. In fact, it is straight shot with only one turn. Olive becomes Barham, take a left on Cahuenga which then becomes Highland Ave. The event is at the Renaissance hotel at the corner of Highland and Hollywood. The hotel is attached to an outdoor shopping mall and the famed Kodak theatre where they host the Oscars and other big-time events like that. So here I am, at the center of the entertainment industry.
On the way to the hotel, I pass by the NBC headquarters and through the Warner Bros. lots. Walt Disney & Co. is just a block away from my travel route, Universal Studios is a left-hand turn off of Cahuenga, and then there is the Hollywood Bowl on my left after I go over the Cahuenga pass and drop down into Hollywood proper. A lot of history here. A whole other world.
ASCAP stands for American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. They are the largest of the three PROs (performing rights organizations) in the U.S., the other two being BMI and SESAC.
What does a PRO do? Primarily two things: First, they collect “performance” royalties on behalf of their songwriter and publisher members. A “performance” can mean anything from an orchestra performing a song written by a composer, to a bar band playing pop music, to songs played on radio, TV, cable, and film.
The second thing they do is tirelessly advocate for the intellectual property rights of songwriters and publishers in Washington, DC. Never has this been more crucial in protecting our rights and livelihoods than the last 15 years with the advent of internet music consumption. There are many music services on the web that bring in money from subscribers and advertisers in which none of the money makes it to the artists. That means they’re making money of our music and yet we don’t get a share of it. That’s not right.
And we’re not talking about small companies either. We’re talking about Google, who owns YouTube, who tirelessly lobbies for legislation to further strip away the intellectual property rights of writers and publishers. ASCAP is fighting the good fight over internet revenue streams on behalf of its members similar to what they did 15 years ago when they were able to successfully get cable companies to pay royalties for music used on their programs, where prior to that, they paid nothing.
Well enough of my soap boxing. That’s like boxing but using bars of hotel soap instead of gloves.