ASCAP boycott

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The ASCAP boycott was a boycott of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) by radio broadcasters, due to license fees. From another perspective, it was a boycott of radio broadcasters by ASCAP,[1] "concerned about the unlicensed radio broadcast of its members' material ..."[2]

Between 1931 and 1939, ASCAP increased royalty rates charged to broadcasters some 448%.[3]

In 1940, when ASCAP tried to double its license fees, radio broadcasters prepared to resist their demands by enforcing a boycott of ASCAP,[4] and inaugurating a competing royalty agency, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI).[5]

During a ten-month period lasting from January 1 to October 29, 1941, no music licensed by ASCAP (1,250,000 songs) was broadcast on NBC nor CBS radio stations. Instead, the stations played songs in the public domain, regional music and styles (like rhythm and blues or country) that had been traditionally disdained by ASCAP. And it resulted in a lot of classical compositions being recorded by the big bands.

When the differences between ASCAP and the broadcasters were resolved, ASCAP agreed to settle for a lower fee[specify] than they had initially demanded.[6]

"Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair", an 1854 song, was a notorious beneficiary of the ASCAP boycott. According to Time Magazine, "So often had BMI's Jeannie [sic] With the Light Brown Hair been played that she was widely reported to have turned grey."[7] Another beneficiary was Glenn Miller's "the Song of the Volga Boatmen".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pitt, Ivan L. (2015). Direct Licensing and the Music Industry: How Technology, Innovation and Competition Reshaped Copyright Licensing. Springer. p. vi. ISBN 9783319176536. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  2. ^ Bayles, Martha (1996). Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music. University of Chicago Press. p. 109. ISBN 9780226039596. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  3. ^ Larry Lessig."Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity" (minute 6:00), TED Talk, 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  4. ^ Schneider, John. "This Boycott Changed American Music". RadioWorld. Future plc. Archived from the original on 2 November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  5. ^ Maslon, Laurence (2018). Broadway to Main Street: How Show Tunes Enchanted America. Oxford University Press. p. 59. ISBN 9780199832545. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  6. ^ Elijah Wald, How The Beatles Destroyed Rock'n'Roll, p. 131
  7. ^ "No Letup". Time Magazine. 27 January 1941.
  8. ^ Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 2, side B.