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Royalty Free Music > Music News > Royalty Free Music News: Background Music, Music for Film and the History of ASCAP

February 23rd, 2010

Music for Film, Background music, Stock Music and an ASCAP History from RoyaltyFreeMusic.com

As you already know, RoyaltyFreeMusic.com provides royalty free music that is an alternative often chosen by professionals looking to save money on licensing fees without compromising the quality of important music for film that makes up their intricate soundtracks. Professional composers with vast experience in creating and playing rich music for film and background music custom-design and perform the available tracks to suit the demanding needs of producers and directors trying to build diverse libraries of stock music on a budget that need royalty free music running the gamut of styles - classical, jazz, New Age, R&B, pop, rock, electronic, avant-garde.

RoyaltyFreeMusic.com understands that, as a busy film professional with far more on your to-do list than simply picking out ideal stock music and background music to contribute to the desired overall feel and look of your production. That is why we try to provide affordable music that is organized into diverse compilations in a variety of ways - by music theme, by music type or style, by instrument and in many other easy ways that will allow you to spend less time choosing the best collection. Because we have done the work of organizing the music into easy-to-download catalogues for you, you already know you are getting the right type of soundtrack music. And because you are dealing with royalty free music, you always know you will pay a one-time, low fee for unlimited use of the music purchased with no further obligations to pay … ever!

Still, we realize you have options that extend beyond royalty free music, and one of them is to pay the on-going fees that tend to be more complicated than those attached to stock music charged by major music providers. One of the largest music providers/license holders, and where many professionals go to get their stock music for film and television is ASCAP. But what exactly is ASCAP, besides someone that you might know as owning a lot of copyrights to a lot of songs from A LOT of artists?

"ASCAP" stands for the "American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and is a non-profit performance rights organization. It protects the musical copyrights of members by keeping track of the live performances of music via broadcast or live performance. ASCAP makes sure that artists get compensated each time their music is used by non-copyright owners. This is why, when a piece of stock music or any other type of background music you might be using for your film production is registered with ASCAP, you are responsible for paying fees - on-going, usually on a monthly basis, especially if you own a restaurant or another type of business where you will be playing background music regularly and often.

Simply put, when a song is played, the "player" does not pay the copyright holder directly, and the radio station or restaurateur playing the song does not get billed directly by the artist. Instead, ASCAP takes care of this to give those looking for stock music, background music or music for film a single point of contact for fulfilling legal obligations.

Just to give you an idea of how much money is involved total with all the copyrights managed by ASCAP, in 2005, studies reported that the company collected $750 million in U.S. dollars and distributed over $646 million to its members. The organization now is home to over 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.

But how did ASCAP begin?

On February 13, 1914, a group of musicians, composers and other music professionals gathered in New York City to create a safe place for songwriters and composers to get paid appropriately and recognized for their work. At the time, the group was composed of mostly writers and publishers associated with New York City's "Tin Pan Alley," a district in the city that housed most of the city's prominent creatives. Early members of ASCAP included songwriters such as Irving Berlin, James Weldon Johnson and John Philip Sousa.

In the first ten years of ASCAP's existence, the entity along with the Performing Right Society of Great Britain signed the first reciprocal agreement that would allow each to represent the other's work while in their respective countries. This set a ground-breaking precedent that eventually grew into the same types of reciprocal agreements throughout the world so those internationally can be compensated for use of their music as stock music, background music or music for film.

When radio was introduced in the 1920s, ASCAP realized it had a new source of income. At first, radio stations only broadcast live performances of works, with performers working without compensation. As musicians decided they needed to be paid, recorded performances started to become a necessity for stations unwilling to pay expensive fees. However, composers did not want their works performed at no cost either. Radio broadcasters did not like the idea of honoring ASCAP license fees, a concept which gave birth to another major music provider in 1940, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), designed to decrease licensing fees. This caused a time period - until October 29, 1941 - during which background music, stock music and any other type of music that had been licensed by ASCAP could not be played on NBC or CBS. However, the public demanded to hear certain songs, and the two entities settled differences in May, 1941. Now over 11,500 local commercial radio stations throughout the U.S. along with 2,000 non-commercial radio stations have ASCAP licenses.

ASCAP made history as the first U.S. performing rights organization to give royalties for Internet performances, and to this day pursues and gets licenses for Web sites, digital music providers such as iTunes and others and other online media companies.

Though ASCAP commands higher licensing fees from filmmakers and other media professionals than high-quality royalty free music companies such as RoyaltyFreeMusic.com and others, its benefits are still great. It is more than an agent to represent its members, because it is run by its members. It connects songwriters and composers all over the world and provides alternatives for those looking for great stock music, background music and music for film. For more information about ASCAP, visit its Web site.

For high-quality, affordable royalty free music with vivid instrumentation and memorable, original melodies to help complete your eclectic film and television library, visit RoyaltyFreeMusic.com today!

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