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ASCAP is finally better than BMI?

Updated: Jul 2

Is ASCAP finally better than BMI? Will this confusing argument end?

  • It will depend on ASCAP’s infrastructure.

  • Ability to pay out advances.

  • Who will sit on the board in the future?

These questions come from the back end of BMI’s pay rate decrease from 90% to 85% announced last month. This is causing frustrations all over the music industry. However, you should have an open mind when making this final judgment.

ASCAP’s Infrastructure

Since the pandemic, I’ve been watching ASCAP upgrade its internal infrastructure bit by bit without taking from the writers and composers as BMI is doing. They still have a few kinks to work out, but these are minor compared to the ease of use of their entire system. ASCAP runs efficiently in my book compared to BMI, and they are a refreshing company to deal with in the music publishing world.

Advance Payouts

ASCAP still doesn’t win this battle of the advance payout. This is BMI’s golden goose. BMI will advance you as low as three figures just to keep you at the company longer. Once people get hip to these tactics, you begin to see why many people will champion BMI. For some, this may solve your money problems. However, shouldn’t service be the first priority?

Who Sits on the Board?

BMI is made up of broadcasters—people who work in the communications business. After all, it does stand for Broadcast Music Incorporated. ASCAP’s board, on the other hand, is made up of writers, composers, and publishers who only serve two-year terms and then have to get re-elected. So you see why ASCAP means American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers and why they are a not-for-profit company. When BMI decides to go for-profit, this heavily minimizes all creative approaches to how the company will make money for the creatives.

So, Is ASCAP the Better Choice Now?

If you do not need an advance from ASCAP any time soon before you become a hit writer or producer, then yes, ASCAP is the best choice hands down.

Should I Wait for the Infrastructure Rebuild at BMI?

If you don’t mind the pay cuts, yes!

What If I’m in a Publishing Deal?

Now, here's where this goes downhill. If you have a deal with a publisher on top of this new 15% deal, then you will feel the effects immediately. Here comes the double dip! A collection fee of 21.375% from performance revenue is now redacted from all of my writers in 15% collection deals with the likes of Songtrust, TuneCore, and CD Baby Pro vs the prior 16.75%. If you're in a 25% admin deal, it's now 25.625%. Lastly, if you're in a 50/50 co-pub deal, it's now 37.5%.

What If I Collect Myself and Remove the Middleman?

Then your take-home percentage is now 85% if you’re at BMI.

What About ASCAP’s Take-Home Percentage?

It’s 90%.

Check This Out!

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If You Decide to Switch to ASCAP

  1. You’ll lose your easy royalty advance privileges.

  2. But you will gain peace of mind in their system.

  3. And you keep your 90% payout.

If You Stay at BMI

  1. You have to roll with the punches during the infrastructure rebuild.

  2. However, you do get to take advantage of their royalty advance system.

  3. Lastly, you will have to endure the pay cut.


Hopefully, this provides you with enough information to make a decision about your music publishing performance rights royalties so you can continue to be great in this music game. If you were struggling with:

  1. Choosing between ASCAP and BMI,

  2. Understanding the impact of recent changes,

  3. Deciding how to manage your music publishing rights,

You now have the means to make an informed choice that suits your career needs.


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