Whenever I hear about artists (those that are not in the top 200 grossing artists of the year) not getting their fair share of their performance/songwriting royalties, it points back to ASCAP. I don't read about too much injustice from BMI or SESAC.
Techdirt points us to a blog by Zoe Keating. She, as an informed musician, actually broke down her settlement from a live performance. The promoter deducted $86 as an ASCAP payment. She never sees that money in her ASCAP statements. She called ASCAP to find out how she can claim that money and was told, "there was nothing for me to claim. He informed me that ASCAP pays out performing royalties only to the 200 top-grossing concert tours, as determined by Pollstar." How do they determine what to pay the songwriter if he/she doesn't tour? Does your song have to be performed by one of those top 200 grossing artists?
In some venues, even if you are not registered with ASCAP, the venue is and they still deduct the money. Why is ASCAP set up this way?
According to ASCAP's website:
A music creator is like a small business, and ASCAP exists to ensure that music creators are paid promptly when their works are performed publicly. ... ASCAP is committed to nurturing music makers throughout their careers.
It does not specifically state that you have to gross X amount of money before they will consider making a prompt payment. If you add up all those $86 contributions day in and day out, over thousands of venues, there is a lot of money going to ASCAP. It seems like in 2012 there should be a legitimate tracking system that could be put in place to pay out royalties properly, especially if the artist is being diligent about submitting song lists, etc as Zoe has.
If anyone has the answer, let me and the thousands of musicians who'd love to get their piece of their pie, in on the royalty payment secret.