Yes, that is the exact assumption. There is really no physical way that PRO's can collect money on everything and pay all songwriters. Most songs and artists NEVER get more than a couple hundred views or listens (if that) from friends and family. Most never get that. And in many cases, such as the Internet, they are not even listening to more than a few seconds of any song. Studies have been done that people have the attention span of a goldfish. About eight seconds. With endless music out there, (about 100,000 songs uploaded an hour on Facebook alone) people are just bombarded by music all the time any time. And they are also bombarded by moble apps, games, puzzles, blogs, movies, TV, you name it, where they get it on their phones and all devices.

So why belong to any of these organizations? Because we all HOPE that we might hit the lottery and have one of those songs go worldwide viral. There's always that hope, and people do that. But when you look BEYOND the song, and find the stories of the song, the people involved with the song, the years that it took to get there, etc. you find that it is always much more complicated and involved than anyone wants to believe. And a lot of the shady aspects of the music industry that people like to talk about here. Yeah, that exists too.

But put your self in the place of the people at BMI, ASCAP, SESAC. A very good friend of mine here in Nashville is DAVID PRESTON. DAvid is an Executive Vice President, and one of the heads of the Artist representative departments. Two years ago he told me he gets an average of 150 calls, emails, A DAY, asking for personal conferences from songwriters. That;s every day. And he has a pretty large staff below them. They probably get four or five times that. There are not enough hours in the day to see everyone. And that is the same with ASCAP and SESAC. I have good friends at all of them, and they pretty much echo that.
For someone like David, a lot of his calls are from HIT, STAFF and SUCCESSFUL writers all asking where their money has gone, because it has all taken a huge nosedive to next to nothing.

And what are they supposed to tell these people? In order to MAKE MONEY on songs, SOMEONE HAS TO PAY MONEY FOR THOSE SONGS.
That's how songwriters are paid. The sale of PHYSICAL PRODUCT (CD'S, LEGAL DOWNLOADS, etc. Things you can hold in your hand.)
And PERFORMANCES (Times something is played, where it's played, etc.)There are all kinds of different things, digital, Echo dot, subscription services, usage in Television and movies, commercials, etc.) Each one have their own rules and etticates. Each one takes a different relationship to deal with.

Professional songwriters give up half the ownership of this song to have PUBLISHERS, who deal with all of this. And they need publishers to be able to get their songs in the pipelines to even be heard in the first place. Publishers are the "AGENTS" for songs, which is the same as Hollywood actors have. Russel Crowe, and Daniel Day Lewis, don't go to every audition. They have agents that represent them. And if you dion't have an agent, you don't get in on those auditions in the first place.
Same with publishers and songwriters. And those publishers spend HOURS every day, tracking down all that stuff and keeping track of what is happening with their clients songs. Songwriters are writing songs. Again, only so many hours in the day.

Now there are people, like John here, that has established himself over the years and gets some placements in certain projects. That's great and very few and far between. If he didn't have the product, he wouldn't get those, because he is having to get through the gauntlet of people involved in those productions, like film and televison music directors who are often songwriters themselves. Want something in a Pixar movie? Better be hotter than Randy Newman.
But many of those productions, independent films, smaller networks (Like Telemundo, that John is referring to) don't pay that much money. They don't get that much advertising revenue. That's where these payments come from.

But the biggest thing is that VISABILITY IS VIABILITY. If you have something getting played several times a day in MAJOR MARKETS, in television, on awards shows, in commercials, major motion pictures, etc. you will make a nice chunk of money Might take a couple years for it all to come in and you may have a bunch of people to pay out BEFORE it gets to you, other co-writers, publshers, things like the HARRY FOX AGENCY, who specifically collect for Television and motion pictures (you have to hire them independently) and sometimes, since most pro writers have had a couple of deals BEFORE they usually owe money to other people. IF you've had a staff deal for a year or two, that all has to be paid back BEFORE you clear a dime. I can't tell you how many people I know that had number one songs and never saw a dime of it due to money they owed to even get into the business.


So now there are less and less people PHYSICALLY PAYING for music. And more and more people using music. More and more, lower and lower subscription fees. How many songs do you think "$5.00 a month unlimited downloading" pays for? And for all the bluster from the platforms ilke SPOTIFY, PANDORA, and others that make these huge claims that they pay out BILLIONS of royalties, I've yet to find ONE SATISFIED AND HAPPY SONGWRITER. Why do you think Dylan and others are selling their cateloges? Cause they are not making enough money in other ways. This is the end of the money in music for the most part.

So if your focus in music and songwriting is to make money, get rich, etc. you are probably in the wrong business. And I have NEVER, NEVER met one hit writer, that moved to this town, LA or New York to make their fortune. Not one. I have personally written with around 100 writers with top tens, number one, and other very successful writers in my 32 years here. They all moved because that was the next step. They had reached a certain level in their area (I was at the top of the game in Alabama before I moved here) they all were young and decided that's where they needed to go. They wanted to write great songs and meet people that could get them in higher places. The people most surprised by their successes are usually some of the biggest hit writers. But all had enormous struggles to get where they were. And far more incredibly talented people, lasted a couple years and moved home or moved on in their lives never been heard from or getting very close but no cigar. I count myself among those people, having been closer to deals, cuts, hits artists, etc,than I really like to think about, and not getting that huge pay off.
Just part of it. I'm just too stupid to have moved out. When I got close, in 2000, a group of people approached me about teaching this stuff, and so I did.

So is business slow? For some people sure it.
Is the money leaking away? For most people. Yep.
Do we quit? I don't, Other people might. Each person has to make their own decisions.

Everyone has dreams. Go chase them. But inject some REALITY into the dreams.

That would be my answer.