Why Does the ASCAP Board Not Want You To See Their Attendance Records?

By • October 15, 2006

That’s a very good question. As you can read in today’s Film Music Magazine news story, it has now been confirmed that the ASCAP Board of Directors voted down a proposal that would have let ASCAP members know the board meeting attendance records of the incumbent Board members at election time, so ASCAP members can see exactly who’s showing up for board meetings and who isn’t.

Beyond the fact that this is crucial information for ASCAP members, one must ask what the motivation of the ASCAP Board truly is in taking official action to make sure this information doesn’t get to members. It’s interesting to note that the Board didn’t announce that they voted this down, in fact it probably would have remained a secret of the ASCAP Board Room if I hadn’t asked a very pointed question about this subject to Mr. Seth Hufstedler, ASCAP’s Ombudsman for the West Coast. After waiting almost three months for an answer, Hufstedler finally communicated to me that the ASCAP Board had decided not to disclose their own board meeting attendance records to members.

One can only imagine what other secrets are kept under lock and key at the ASCAP high command at Lincoln Center in New York City. Secrets that the “owner-members” of ASCAP, as ASCAP President Marilyn Bergman likes to call us, have every right to know.

The ASCAP Board of Directors since 2001 has undertaken a series of draconian steps designed to consolidate their own power and make it difficult, if not impossible, for ASCAP members to replace them. Behind closed door meetings ASCAP members are not allowed to attend or know the details or agenda of, the ASCAP Board has seemingly adopted an agenda of ensuring their own personal political survival at any cost, most apparently by drafting vague language that was sold by ASCAP to the membership as an “advantage” but in reality virtually eliminated all independent candidates from the ASCAP Board election process by massively increasing the number of signatures required to be on the ASCAP Board of Directors ballot from 25 to now over 1,000, unless the candidate is selected by board-handpicked Nominating Committee. This represents the kind of brazen, political manipulation that even many in the darkest bowels of Washington, DC wouldn’t dare attempt.

After eliminating any practical chance of independent candidates being listed on the ballot, much less getting elected, the board’s Nominating Committee just prior to the last election two years ago picked a slate of opponents that were virtual unknowns in many parts of the industry. With little time given to campaign, most didn’t. When the slate of “opponents” was defeated by the membership and the entire incumbent Board was predictably re-elected, ASCAP and its Board had the audacity to brag very publicly about how the “entire board was re-elected” for the first time in many years.

As ASCAP members we are not allowed to know the board’s agenda, minutes of board meetings, it’s priorities or virtually anything about it’s functioning except when we see the carefully written candidate statements every two years at election time. And what’s in most of those statements? Usually it’s lists of the great songs, etc. that the board members have written. And now, they’re making sure we cannot tell if they even show up for meetings or not by voting to keep their own attendance records secret.

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