ASCAP adopt "more flexible distribution schedule" to pay members during coronavirus crisis

Music publishers ASCAP have revealed that they have had to adopt a “more flexible distribution schedule” to pay its members during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

On Friday (April 2), the company’s chairman Paul Williams issued a statement in which he warned of “disruption” to the rollout of payments. He explained that ASCAP “had to carefully review [their] cash forecasts and plan for more disruption to [their] revenue collections and member distributions.”

CEO Elizabeth Matthews shared a follow-up statement yesterday (April 5), which was subsequently shared by podcast producer and The Dream host Jane Marie on Twitter. “So ASCAP just sent out an email basically claiming it has zero dollars in the bank to distribute to artists for the foreseeable future,” she captioned a segment of the email.

An ASCAP spokesperson has since clarified to NME that they had adopted “a more flexible distribution schedule for the remainder of 2020 and 2021.”

“The entire ASCAP team is working hard to make sure our members get paid as quickly as possible, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, while protecting our ability to continue providing members with essential services and payments over the long term,” they continued.

Elsewhere in Matthews’ statement, she said that ASCAP had “already been contacted by numerous licensees who are attempting to pay less, pay late or not pay at all” Despite this, she assured that “the April 28 writer distribution will be fully funded as we had originally anticipated.”

A spokesperson also reiterated these claims in an email to NME, explaining that Marie had drawn the “wrong conclusion” from Friday’s statement.

Matthews said that it is employees’ “duty is to ensure that ASCAP survives to serve the next generation of creators and publishers”, despite the “tough” situation the industry and wider world finds itself in.

“ASCAP and our ASCAP members are worth fighting for, and on behalf of all ASCAP employees, I promise you that we will do whatever it takes to fight for ASCAP and fight for you,” she concluded.

Meanwhile, a £5 million hardship fund set up for struggling UK musicians, has run out of cash.

The fund – created by the charity Help Musicians and launched on March 25 – is in the process of arranging one-off payments of £500 for 10,000 musicians across the UK in order to help them with household expenses and other living costs.

But the demand from musicians has been so great, that the charity claims it received approximately one month’s worth of calls from musicians asking for help in just one day as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.