In a very positive move for composers and anyone who has music broadcast on film or television, ASCAP rolled out their online cue sheet sheet access program this week and it’s a winner. Finally composers have the ability to examine all cue sheets where their name is included, even on only one cue. This access to the official record for royalty payment purposes can be very valuable in terms of spotting any missing or inaccurate cue sheets, and will go a long way to address the needs and concerns composers have about online cue sheet access.
ASCAP’s system is easy to use and provides full information on each cue including writer and publisher names and splits. It would be nice if they added linkages to their ACE database that includes publisher contact information, perhaps that will be done in a future release. Another nice addition would be access to the system for anyone who has music represented by ASCAP, even if they’re not current members – these foreign composers and ex-ASCAP composers who left catalog there have just as much of a need for accurate cue sheets as current ASCAP members.
The various codes and columns can be confusing at first, but ASCAP has included helpful “what’s this?” links that explain each code, abbreviation and term in the cue sheet system. In addition to accessing cue sheets, the ASCAP system allows members to update contact information, view previous statements in detail, view letters and announcements included with statements and much more – it’s a powerful window for members into many aspects of their music catalog and performance information.
It will be important to see how ASCAP manages requests for cue sheet changes that result from members identifying inaccurate information on their cue sheets. Typically these are done if the publisher agrees, assuming the publisher owns the copyright to the music in question. But ASCAP must balance that copyright interest with the fact that for performing rights royalties, writers and publishers have an equal financial interest in the royalties and should have equal rights when it comes to dealing with the performance royalty system.
ASCAP’s new online cue sheet system should go a long way towards helping composers and songwriters sort out any cue sheet questions or identify problems with cue sheets that could lead to nonpayment or underpayment of royalties. If you’re an ASCAP member and not currently signed up for online access, I urge you to do so at your earliest convenience.