2020 challenged all of us unlike any other year in modern history. It also defined ASCAP’s dedication to our members. That meant strengthening our commitment to our mission to serve our songwriters, composers and music publishers by taking every step necessary to secure their livelihoods and careers. Inspired by our members each and every day, the ASCAP team proved that innovation, efficiency and progress really can be escalated in a crisis.
I am pleased to say that ASCAP overcame the unprecedented headwinds of 2020 to continue its record-breaking revenue streak, collecting more than $1.327 billion in revenues, a $53 million increase over 2019.
2020 marked the sixth year of ASCAP’s strategic plan to transform its business and grow revenues. During the execution of the strategic plan from 2015 through 2020, ASCAP exceeded performance goals and drove ASCAP revenues to a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and ASCAP distributions to a 7% compound annual growth rate.
2020 domestic and foreign revenues both saw significant increases. As compared to 2019, foreign revenue rose by 9% to $358 million. Domestic revenue for 2020 was up by 2.5% at $969 million, an increase of $24 million from 2019. The growth of domestic revenue was driven in part by gains of 28% in audio streaming revenue and 8% in audio/visual, matching shifting music consumption trends during the pandemic. ASCAP’s strategy to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 helped to offset uncontrollable declines in other sectors, including a 30% decline in revenues from businesses that were shut down or at reduced capacity during the last three quarters of 2020, such as live concerts and events, music venues, bars, clubs, restaurants, retail stores, hotels and more.
2020 ASCAP revenues – Annual Report
During a time period in which the global pandemic directly affected revenues for many companies that license music, ASCAP grew royalties for its songwriter, composer and publisher members by $29 million, or 2.5%, for a total of $1.213 billion available for distributions. Domestic distributions from ASCAP-licensed and administered performances hit $891 million, an increase of $22 million and foreign distributions totaled $322 million. As a reminder, ASCAP operates on a not-for-profit basis and distributes all revenues collected, less operating expenses.
How did we accomplish such progress in the midst of a global pandemic? It helps to have the greatest community of music creators in the world. It also helps to have the greatest team of talented, hard-working and passionate employees committed to the mission of ASCAP which is to protect and advocate for our members. Together, we harnessed strength and resilience to overcome the many challenges this crisis has thrown at us.
When COVID-19 first hit last March, ASCAP seamlessly pivoted to remote work and gave our employees the tools, support and flexibility to adjust their lives to continue to deliver excellent service for ASCAP members.
We quickly made operational changes and expense cuts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact. We optimized and aggressively executed our collection efforts. As so many of our valued licensees closed their businesses or suffered revenue declines, we finalized important deals with major licensees that were positively impacted by consumer behavior during the pandemic. We did this to make up for revenue loss in categories that were outside of our control. In addition to the many multi-year deals already in place for 2020, we closed or renewed over 130 deals in categories such as Cable, Broadcast TV, radio, Audio/Visual and Audio Streaming.
We accelerated our distributions, including our Symphony, Recital and Education royalties, and adjusted our financial management protocols to stabilize distributions and give our members more financial security going forward.
We completed system upgrades to boost performance and continued with the migration of our infrastructure to the cloud, all while improving security and increasing efficiency and reliability across all of our tech operations.