Marilyn Bergman Steps Down as ASCAP President

Film Music Magazine • April 9, 2009

ASCAP has announced that lyricist Marilyn Bergman has decided to step down as ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board. Her successor will be elected by the ASCAP Board of Directors during their next meeting later this month. She will continue to serve as an ASCAP Board member.

Commenting on her decision, Bergman said, “I am grateful to have had the honor of serving as the President and Chairman of ASCAP for 15 years, and am exceedingly proud of all that was accomplished during my tenure. I will continue to be a passionate advocate for all music creators through my work on the ASCAP Board of Directors. But in terms of the Presidency itself, I see that now is the right time to step down.”

While Bergman’s term as ASCAP President has been a boon for songwriters, including policies rewarding background vocals within television shows as highly-paid feature performances by default, her term has also been marked by significant reductions in member rights including the practical elimination of the ability of members to nominate a board candidate by petition and the elimination of the right of members to view unedited ASCAP Board of Review transcripts and to bring many types of cases before the ASCAP Board of Review.

“We wish Marilyn well and hope that her successor values and respects all types of music, including score music,” said composer and Film Music Magazine publisher Mark Northam. “Score composers deserve the same respect for their music as songwriters and lyricists do, especially when it comes to performance royalties, now the primary source of income for many score composers. As long as the broadcasters are paying the same for score and song under ASCAP blanket license agreements, there’s no business reason that composers shouldn’t be paid the same rate for their music in film and television productions that songwriters are.”

ASCAP has also been challenged by changes in the way film and television content is distributed. As the world of film and television moves to an online business model where downloads of films and television episodes are growing in popularity, ASCAP has worked hard to retain its relevance as downloads of film and television shows do not currently provide royalties to composers and songwriters, as they are treated essentially as mechanical royalty transactions which are outside the purview of performing rights organizations such as ASCAP.


By Uwe Buschkotter on April 9th, 2009 at 9:03 am

I know Marilyn since many years. She and her husband Alan are not only great authors, they are also both wonderful people. Marilyn served for 15 years as a great ASCAP president. What would be the American songbook without the Bergmans.
They wrote great and tasteful lyrics and their art will be forever.
Uwe Buschkotter

By Rick on April 9th, 2009 at 9:52 am

Yea, but now just MAYBE us writers of ‘background’ music will be properly credited for our work. I respect her but the secrecy and blatant policies leaning towards songwriters has run its course…Change is good.

By Les Hurdle on April 9th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

With respect to Ms Bergman, it is a great day.

Ms Bergman made it very clear she did not regard instrumental music to be of the same ‘quality’ as the songs she was involved with [See the NY Times].
What utter arrogance.

Mr Northam is correct, the broadcasters of Local TV do not value one genre of music over another, nor do they pay other than 1-1…………. so who at ASCAP has the right to emotionally devalue the work of another?
Time for the old guard to leave, all of them.

Time for transparency and honesty.


By Lynn W. on April 10th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

There should be an end to the ASCAP ‘surveys’ that use ‘Top Ten DJ’ averaging and ignor the cable networks like Turner Broadcasting with their specials, even when ASCAP is sent a cue sheet by them.

By Lesley Moore on June 10th, 2009 at 8:54 am

Marilyn Bergman was also a great help to, and on the board of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Her knowledge of songs and lyrics and the collaboration of her husband helped keep things modern, yet respectful towards the old “Standards” everyone loves so much.
Best of luck and future, Marilyn.

Leave a Comment