ASCAP and BMI Usage Weightings: Out of Step With the World? :: Film Music Magazine

Usage weightings are employed by performing rights organizations (PROs) as a means to assign greater or lesser monetary value to music performances in broadcast media. These weightings are allocated by usage categories, including feature performances, themes, background (a rather derogatory, inaccurate and unsophisticated term) and music used in commercials, promos and logos — renamed CPA [...]
I'm trying hard to understand the current situation in the U.S. with PRO's and how they weigh different performances. I've been concerned for years about this as I see such large discrepancies between identical performances on PRS, GEMA, etc. and ASCAP. I do my best to keep up, but find it hard to be more of an "activist" as I have to spend most of my time making music and taking care of my family.

Here is an outdated, but informative article written by Mark Holden in 2001 to get started.

ASCAP and BMI Usage Weightings: Out of Step With the World? :: Film Music Magazine

I believe the ratio now is more akin to 16:1. I could be off, but that is what I've heard thrown out here and there (basically 1/4 of 1 credit vs 4 credits- simplified math). That's really the problem, I want to get to the bottom of this and have access to facts.

For ASCAP, here are the official weighting rules:

See pages 14-30.

I like the idea of a duration based 1:1 system as I do my fair share of library music, but at the same time I think there should be a certain amount of weighting in regards to theme music and specialty uses (on screen, etc.) But the ratios assigned to "feature" music vs background and CPA (incidental) music are way off. Also, the rules constituting what may be defined as "feature" music are loose and can, and are, arbitrarily used to benefit certain groups of writers and publishers. I think I have the right to get as much money for my music used in exactly the same way as Paul McCartney or (cough) Paul Williams. I'm not talking about synch fees, I'm talking residuals only. PRS and GEMA do it this way-- why not the US PRO's?

The facts that I can verify are that over 80% of the music used on US television/cable comes from production music libraries, while under 20% of the receipts from those same broadcasters is paid to the libraries. The money collected from TV and distributed to TV uses is to the tune of about 400 million dollars in 2008. Very rarely do libraries get a "feature" credit. So that's my big question-- who is determining what is being assigned as a feature performance, and who is benefiting most from those assignations?

Hope to discuss this stuff here and gain some insight.