How can I find out when a song was registered with ASCAP or BMI?
May 20, 2019 9:22 PM   Subscribe

ASCAP and BMI both have searchable online databases where you can see who is credited for writing a song, but they don’t include the date that song was registered. Is there any way of finding this out other than asking the artist directly?

I’m really trying to find out when certain songs were written, not necessarily registered, but I thought this might be easier. I’ve already tried looking at the album’s liner notes.
posted by ataxia to Media & Arts (3 answers total)
I'm not an expert but I have a little bit of background on this. A person can register a song with a performing rights organization (like ASCAP or BMI) long after it's been written. I've known composers who've let works pile up because they hadn't gotten around to registering them. While a copyright date is not necessarily going to give precise timing on when it was written, at least it would indicate when it was published. Of course, a song can be many years old by the time an artist decides to publish it (and sometimes songs are published post-humously). An artist on a major label would likely have the publication and registration with a performing rights organization occur around the same time but someone who self publishes might not take those steps (or know to do that). I've seen CDs which included copyright dates and left off any indication of belonging to a performing rights org. All that is to say, liner notes, published interviews, and contacting the artist is going to give you a more accurate picture but at least a copyright date can give you a starting point.
posted by acidnova at 11:19 PM on May 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the info. Do you know where I could find the copyright date, other than the CD?
posted by ataxia at 7:32 PM on May 21, 2019

US government Copyright Database (for works published after 1978.)

Assuming you can't find it there, you might get better results by contacting the publishing company/companies, rather than trying to get info directly from the artist themselves. If the publishers aren't listed in the liner notes, you can probably find them through some combo of the copyright database, the ASCAP & BMI search engines, or the Songfile searchable online database run by the Harry Fox Agency.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:56 PM on May 21, 2019

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