Country music songwriter seeks $1.3 million in premium payments from ASCAP

May 2018

Music publishing. Collection societies


Country music songwriter Shane McAnally is taking one of the USA’s big two collecting societies, ASCAP, to arbitration in a dispute over $1.3 million of “premium payments” that he says should have been paid for his top performing songs. Having left ASCAP for the new rights organisation, Global Music Rights, McAnally’s works were still administered by ASCAP for radio until ASCAP’s then current agreements with the broadcasters expired. The disputed payments stem from that period.

The dispute relates to premium payments which are paid to writers by ASCAP in addition to standard royalties where certain “threshold numbers” are reached (in any one quarter). McAnally claims that once he was in the process of pulling his rights from ASCAP he no longer received the same premiums as his co-writers on certain songs that topped the country radio charts and was thus allegedly unpaid or underpaid premiums.

The matter was initially heard by the collecting society’s ‘board of review’, which ruled that the organisation had applied its royalty payment rules correctly. But the writer disagrees and with the support of GMR is now taking the matter to arbitration. McAnally is quoted by The Tennessean as declaring ASCAP “lied, they cheated, they stole”.

Fellow songwriter Paul Williams, in his role as ASCAP President, insists the society acted appropriately. He told reporters that the society’s board cares “deeply for all our songwriters and we act for the greatest good of all concerned, whether hugely successful or just starting out”, but that “Shane was paid all of the money he was owed after he left ASCAP and went to GMR”.

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