If you thought LMFAO and Bruno Mars were ubiquitous in this country, good luck trying to avoid them overseas.
Songs from both artists, already massive hits at home, were huge earners outside the United States last year, according to an analysis by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP, which collects performance royalty revenue for songwriters, composers and music publishers.
Of the top 10 earning songs of the year for ASCAP members, four were recorded by Bruno Mars. Although LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” scored the most revenue internationally, Bruno Mars swept the next three spots. “Just the Way You Are (Amazing)” took the No. 2 spot, followed by “Grenade” and “The Lazy Song.” “Marry You” was seventh.
Like competitor BMI, ASCAP collects royalties from public performances of songs, which include plays on TV, radio, the Web and in restaurants. Top countries for ASCAP royalty collections include Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Japan.
Bruno Mars had especially strong showings in Germany and Canada but didn’t dominate everywhere.
In France and Japan, top earners included some oldies, specifically ones from popular American films. In France, “Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)” and “Over the Rainbow” took second and third place, respectively, after “Party Rock Anthem.”
In Japan, “Shall We Dance,” from “The King and I,” and “Footloose” were big earners for U.S. songwriters and composers.
As the economies in foreign countries grow and performance right organizations develop, ASCAP is collecting more money from overseas than it did a decade ago.
In 2012, the organization’s foreign revenue topped $340 million, more than double its 2000 foreign revenue of $128 million. As that revenue has grown, it has also increased its share of ASCAP’s total. Foreign share of ASCAP revenue was 36% last year, compared with 22% in 2000.
In all, ASCAP takes in about six times what it pays out to performance rights organizations in other countries. That underscores the popularity and value of American music, said John LoFrumento, chief executive of ASCAP.
“American repertory has the highest popularity in the world,” LoFrumento said. “American music is what you hear when you arrive in Amsterdam or Singapore. When you arrive in a foreign capital and the cab driver’s taking you to your hotel, you’re hearing American music."
ASCAP collects royalties from performances in foreign countries through its agreements with fellow rights organizations in those territories. It currently collects from 100 such groups, recently adding Uganda.
ASCAP’s largest affiliate partner is Britain, from which it receives about $50 million a year for American songs. In Britain, top-earning songs other than “Party Rock Anthem” were “Best Thing I Never Had” by Beyonce, and “F*** You,” by Cee Lo Green.
Brazil, which has recently experienced an economic boom, saw its payments to ASCAP increase more than any other territory.
However, the slow growth of the worldwide economy in general has recently dragged down revenue growth.
Also, broadcasters in China, India and Russia continue to play U.S. works without compensating songwriters. In 2012, ASCAP collected about $100,000 from India and $50,000 from China.
LoFrumento said ASCAP is taking steps to pressure governments in those countries to protect performance rights.
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