After the COVID-19 crisis decimated the live music industry, one of the last respites for artists’ income was royalties. But now, that source may be in danger. Recently, ASCAP—one of the two major performance rights organizations (PROs)—announced that members should expect delays in payment. PROs handle the collection and distribution of royalties to music writers.
ASCAP warned recipients to expect delays in payments due between April 6 and April 28, but were confident quarterly payouts would be met. On April 3, ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams made this statement in a mass email responding to the delay:
“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. 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.”
The second major PRO is BMI, which, as of now, is on track to fulfill payments on time. BMI CEO and President Mike O’Neill made the following statement last month on March 16:
“I’m pleased to share with you that our distributions for the next six months will remain strong, and we do not anticipate any impact to BMI’s fiscal year 2020, which ends June 30. 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. It’s too early for us to tell the extent of the impact, but we are paying close attention as the situation evolves.”