Nashville songwriter, producer, and co-president of Sony’s Monument Records, Shane McAnally, is headed into arbitration with ASCAP in order to recover over $1 million owed to him after he left the publishing rights organization. In 2013, McAnally parted ways with ASCAP, but the organization continued to license his music to radio since ASCAP rules prevent the removal of any songs that are subject to a current license issued.
McAnally is claiming that after his resignation, ASCAP changed their distribution methodology which affected his royalties for the two and a half years his songs remained under contract with the PRO. Because McAnally moved from ASCAP to Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights, the songwriter believes ASCAP contorted its rules to deprive him of public performance royalties through discriminatory and retaliatory behavior.
“Shane is a world-class writer fighting on behalf of all writers who may find themselves in a similar situation,” said GMR’s Azoff in a statement. “Despite his repeated requests for information related to his distributions, ASCAP never once explain to him, nor could they point to any of their governing documents that justified his treatment. This is just one in a long series of self-serving ‘rules’ they create to manipulate the system to the detriment of the songwriters they are supposed to protect.”
McAnally claims ASCAP intentionally withheld royalty payments for over nine months for hits like “Take Your Time” co-written and performed by Sam Hunt. When the royalty payments finally arrived, McAnally says there was a significant plunge in amount. Although ASCAP continued to license eight more No. 1 country radio hits written by McAnally to radio after his departure, all of those hits resulted in a significantly lower payment to McAnally than to any of his ASCAP co-writers for the same songs, in the same period on the same radio stations, according to the songwriter’s lawyers.
ASCAP rules require songwriters who have issues with accounting to bring them before the organization’s self-selected Board of Review. According to lawyers for McAnally, the Board of Review has ruled against writers in favor of ASCAP 40 out of 42 times since 1960.
During the Board hearing, McAnally provided evidence of the varying payment between himself and co-writers who were still members ASCAP. He reportedly explained that the organization did not apply the same distribution methodology to writers who resigned from ASCAP, but did not attempt to remove their songs from the ASCAP catalog either.
“Not surprisingly, they ruled against Shane,” said Jason Turner, lawyer for McAnally in a statement. “From day one, ASCAP has absolutely refused to have any conversation whatsoever about any sort of amicable resolution. In fact, they recently refused to join in mediation prior to the commencement of arbitration.”
McAnally is appealing to an arbitration panel in hopes of recovering $1 million he says he is owned and hopes to prevent ASCAP from continuing to contort its rules to deprive other songwriters of their public performance royalties. The arbitration panel is due to convene in the next few weeks.
A two-time Grammy winner and named Songwriter of the Year by the Academy of Country Music, Billboard Hot Country, Music Row, NMPA and RIAA, McAnally has written 36 No. 1 songs including this week’s Billboard Country Airplay chart-topper, “Marry Me” by Thomas Rhett and is currently an ACM nominee in four categories, including Songwriter of the Year.
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