Songwriters Friends

ASCAP Charter Members
Charter members of the first American Performing Rights Society (1914)


In every country in the World, there is what is known as a “society” - an organization dedicated to the collection, representation and protection of royalties due songwriters for the public performance of their original compositions.

Each society collects royalties for its members from music users when those users perform the copyrighted compositions of writers and publishers. The performing right recognizes that a writer’s creation is intellectual property and its use requires permission as well as compensation. Performances include the use of songs played on radio, jukeboxes, music clubs, television and most other situations where music is played outside of the home.

The first society in the United States was established in 1914 by songwriters and publishers. It was called the Association of Composers, Lyricists and Publishers (ASCAP). A premier American songwriter and ASCAP founder, Victor Herbert, had brought a lawsuit against Shanley's Restaurant for refusing to pay royalties for playing his songs on a player piano. The fight went to the Supreme Court and in the end Herbert prevailed when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the decision of the Court: "If music did not pay, it would be given up. Whether it pays or not, the purpose of employing it is profit and that is enough." This judgment established one of the most important rights of the songwriting and publishing business.

By 1919, the United States had established reciprocal licensing agreements with societies in other countries and in 1939, another American society, Broadcast Music, Inc., was established by members of the radio broadcasting industry.

The societies and organizations included in this section identify the most visible and active in helping to promote and protect songwriters throughout the world.