|I'm responding to the article by Brian Farrish on the benefits of ASCAP/BMI for small indies. Mr Farrish suggests that smaller indies not waste their time. As a regional rep for and member of ASCAP I have to point out the flaws in this. Mr. Farrish is assuming that the only thing that ASCAP does is to pay royalties from radio play. This is not the case. Aside from doing this ASCAP offers insurance and health plans to their members, discounts on gear via major industry retailers and also has excellent programs in place for helping to promote fledgling labels and bands. For one there is the Special awards program designed for bands who get most of their airplay, if any from college radio.
ASCAP realizes that these bands are working hard and wants to reward this. Members can annually submit accounts of their activities over the previous year (shows, releases, events, radio, etc) and ASCAP distributes money based on this.
ASCAP also sponsors numerous showcases throughout the country. These are excellent opportunities for bands to play for industry professionals and have led to countless signings. Showcases are held four times a year in Los Angeles for West Coast members. Similar showcases occur in Nashville, Miami and New York. ASCAP sponsors showcases and parties at all of the major industry conferences such as CMJ and SXSW. ASCAP also sponsors local showcases in select cities featuring local talent. This has occured in Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta and others.
Beyond this ASCAP's film and television department is very influential in helping promote smaller bands via their contact with publishers as well as music supervisors for such programs as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (to name one) and a host of others that pay for the use of original music on their programs. These programs seek out less established bands who can provide cutting edge content without the inflated prices. While this doesn't happen automatically or for everyone I personally know several bands with self released or very small indie releases that have benefited from this.
Finally ASCAP has a dedicated staff to offer professional feedback and suggestions to members. They accept walk-in appointments with members or prospective members in their offices and are in the business of helping bands succeed. Nowhere is that more important than on the small indie level.
As membership for a writer member is extremely affordable at $10 annually I hardly think that it is a waste of time for anyone serious about their career to investigate.
NW Regional Representative
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