Career Information

Adrian Ross of ASCAP on Songwriters' Rights

Today's Music Supervision Panel on campus (which will also be live streamed for online students) will feature Brian McNelis, the Senior Vice President of Music & Soundtracks at Lakeshore Entertainment and Adrian Ross, the Director of Public Affairs for ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

We had a chance to talk to Adrian prior to his visit about what ASCAP does and what the organization is trying to gain for songwriters and composers. Adrian will speak more about these topics and others during tomorrow's presentation.

Tell us a little more about ASCAP and its mission.

AR: We're a member-owned organization representing over 470,000 songwriters, composers, and publishers, and we license their musical works to be publicly performed. [A public performance includes radio airplay, TV broadcast, digital stream, and when a song is performed at a venue, restaurant, club, etc.] We make sure that our members are compensated when their music is publicly performed. Next year, 2014, will be our 100th anniversary.

As Director of Public Affairs, what's your main responsibility?

AR: I deal with advocacy, awareness, and education. We work a lot in Washington D.C., trying to make legislators aware of issues that pertain to music creators. We bring a wide cross section of songwriters and composers there to perform their works and talk to Congress about the creative process. This way, members of Congress can make the connection between the music they hear and those who actually write and compose it. As the copyright act is currently being reviewed, I work with ASCAP to make sure that they interests of music creators are represented during the various hearings and discussions that take place.

How has the rise in popularity of digital music services like Pandora and Spotify affected what ASCAP does?

AR: The advent of music services like Spotify and Pandora is a positive thing and these new mediums have offered many opportunities for writers and composers. The challenges we face involve the value of music and ensuring proper compensation. There needs to be fair payment for the content that digital services use, because creators provide the music they base their business model off of. What you're seeing now is creators and artists becoming more vocal about what they're getting paid when their music is used.

Why should a songwriter/composer/producer register with ASCAP?

AR: The larger reason is because the organization's main charge is to protect the rights of creators. For years ASCAP has provided efficient blanket licenses for all those who wish to use music and we monitor our members' performances globally. If you're looking to advance your career, we offer a lot of different career development panels that bring the leading songwriters, producers, and composers together.

For more information on ASCAP, visit

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