How ASCAP And BMI Are Harming Up-And-Coming Singers

from the shakedown dept

When we talk about problems with copyright and royalty systems, sometimes people suggest that we should make an exception for the collections societies like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC that get performance royalties for songwriters, saying that since the money goes to the songwriters, rather than the labels, it's okay. However, ASCAP and the others cause significant problems. We've already discussed how they create problems, and how their views are outdated and damaging for songwriters.

However, it keeps getting worse, as they get more and more desperate to collect money -- and they're doing so in a way that harms songwriters much more than helps them.

ASCAP and BMI have been aggressively targeting venues that hold open mic nights, and demanding they pay huge fees. Many venues have given up and simply stopped allowing any musicians to play at all. In fact, one made every musician sign a waiver that they would only play original songs, and ASCAP told him it didn't matter because there was no way to know if the singers were really avoiding copyrighted music, so he still needed to pay up for a license. Those that pay up then often feel they need to charge a cover fee, so attendance dwindles.

It's basically making it more difficult for the next generation of musicians to get started, and ASCAP is so blind to this they don't even know what they're talking about. In response to the article, an ASCAP representative claims:
"What gives anyone the right to use someone else's property, even though they're not making money on it? I can guarantee you the phone company's going to charge you whether you're making money or not."
First off, this shows an ignorance of what is and is not "property." It also shows no concept of the larger picture of how using copyright to limit singers from appearing is harming artists. As for the non sequitur about the phone company... it's not clear what that has to do with anything.

It's time for musicians to start realizing that these societies do not have the songwriters' best interests in mind.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    :Lobo Santo, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 10:43am

    Flamage.

    This problem can be fixed with fire... lots and lots of fire.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    Disagree.

    ASCAP and BMI is a better model. (Note operative word, "Better").

    It would be helpful if someone could shed light on what this "ideal business model" everyone keeps whining about but no one can explain.

     

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      Monarch, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 11:42am

      Re: by Anonymous Coward on Jan 12th, 2009 @ 10:58am

      "It would be helpful if someone could shed light on what this "ideal business model" everyone keeps whining about but no one can explain."

      For starters, go back to their old business model, and don't force a venue to pay for a license that only allows performers to play original music or music that is in the public domain. Then for seconds, quit going after businesses for playing a radio in the background.

      Oh, but that cuts into the profits of their NEW extortionist business model.

       

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        Leo D. Penrose, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 7:53am

        Re: Re: by Anonymous Coward on Jan 12th, 2009 @ 10:58am

        Radio is free to use in public areas...its already paid for by the radio station...

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      Better than... what? The post says that ASCAP is damaging, stunts new artists, and doesn't have musicians' best interests at heart. No one said anything about business models.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      Wait, ASCAP and BMI are businesses? Silly me, I thought they were non-profits who were working to support the artists business models...

       

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        Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:31pm

        Re: Re:

        As this article demonstrates, they are working for nothing but their own greed. The artists best interests long long ago became second. And their best interests probably don't even take second place these days.
        They are there simply to try to milk the system every way they can. If they cared about the artists, they wouldn't be acting like a-holes. Because lately, that is all they seem like.

         

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        chris (profile), Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

        Re: Re:

        Wait, ASCAP and BMI are businesses? Silly me, I thought they were non-profits who were working to support the artists business models...

        everything is music is for profit, even the nonprofits.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2010 @ 1:26pm

        Re: Re:

        They are non-profits. I work at BMI and if you saw my paycheck you would realize we do not do what we do for the money.

         

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      matt, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:35pm

      Re:

      nope. ASCAP/BMI are worse than the RIAA, because people don't realize how bad they really are.

      While the RIAA may control the souls of big artists so to speak, ASCAP/BMI controls those who don't even willingly become a part of them, and thus controls far, far more artists than the RIAA affects.

      Where people fileshare anyway, businesses don't challenge the ASCAP as much at all.

       

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      Mike (profile), Jan 12th, 2009 @ 1:07pm

      Re:

      It would be helpful if someone could shed light on what this "ideal business model" everyone keeps whining about but no one can explain.

      Start here:

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070503/012939.shtml

      There is no single ideal business model, but what we're concerned about are these unnecessary models that require payment through collective licensing, rather than market mechanisms. The market is much better at determining the proper price of things than some royalties board.

       

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      Christopher Joel, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 1:19pm

      Re: better business model

      I can think of at least one. When a venue/restaurant/whatever comes on board with BMI/ASCAP/SESAC, they get a monitor to put in their venue/restaurant/whatever. The monitor uses a technology like Shazam (not that specific one, but similar) to listen for songs registered by that collection society. When a song they cover is performed, the artist gets an automated royalty, which is paid out once per quarter. All of this is automated, so this portion of it is very low overhead. They'll need people to talk with the venues/restaurants/whatever, which most of these societies already have.

      With this idea, everyone wins. The society can point directly at the data for proof they are paying what they are supposed to and become more transparent (which is always a good thing). The artists/writers get exactly what they should, no more, no less. Music fans get more places to hear music. Restaurants and coffeeshops can offer music as an attractor to their place. Electronics companies get to produce the monitors. Software guys get to program the automated systems. Everyone wins.

       

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    Eponymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    non sequitur

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    That representative is an idiot.

    In before ASCAP apologists/buttkissers/employees come in and start touting everything ASCAP has done to help the industry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 11:58am

    Double standard

    I find it interesting that the representative said that it was wrong to use someone else's property even when you don't make money on it. By charging license fees for original songs, aren't they actually using someone else's property to make money?

     

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      yolanda, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 5:15pm

      Re: Double standard

       

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      Natanael L (profile), Jul 13th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

      Re: Double standard

      Also:

      Imagine that some phone booth company would charge anybody that's outdoors because they *might* be using their phone boots...

      Well, I guess they'll make more money that way then by actually measuring the use and charging those who use it. Let's forget the damage to society and unfairness, etc...

       

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      J, Aug 3rd, 2013 @ 8:54am

      Re: Double standard

      ASCAP doesn't make money off of songwriters music licensing, they merely recoup their costs of operation in order to collect royalties on the songwriters behalf. It cost money to do that. If you want to go and do that for yourself, go ahead and try. It'll be a headache. The only ones who make money on a sync license deal is the publisher and the writer 50/50. I've been with ASCAP since 2004, and I have a great deal of respect for my fellow members AND those who run ASCAP who are also fellow songwriters, publishers, producers, composers and the likes.

       

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    That's twice today I'm swaring in the subject

    "ASCAP told him it didn't matter because there was no way to know if the singers were really avoiding copyrighted music"

    How the hell is that an argument? They don't know that all the music on my iPod is legal. They don't know that I'm not streaming it out to everyone from my server at home. Are they going to come after me next? Are the police going to pull me over because they don't know that my car isn't stolen?

    Now I want to make a web site hosting nothing but indie bands just to piss them off. Too bad I don't know anything more advanced than HTML. Maybe I'll setup a website hosting nothing but my random plucking of my guitar.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:29pm

      Re: That's twice today I'm swaring in the subject

      I think that their point was: Since you don't know that all the music played isn't copyrighted, you are still liable to get sued if/when the bads do play something copyrighted.

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 12:38pm

        Re: Re: That's twice today I'm swaring in the subject

        That I would understand but that isn't what they are saying. They are saying that he still has to pay even if he only plays unique stuff since they have no way of knowing.

         

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      M.R., Jan 17th, 2011 @ 7:41am

      Re: That's twice today I'm swaring in the subject

      Indie bands are entitled to the money. Any songwriter is. ASCAP and BMI are not record labels. They are the only reason songwriters and composer make money.

       

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    Isaac K (profile), Jan 12th, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    The relevance

    "I can guarantee you the phone company's going to charge you whether you're making money or not."

    Uhmn, this actually seems to be a reference to the fact that you used to RENT the phone itself directly from the phone companies. Company. Only one existed at the time.

    Emphasis on USED TO -- this was how many decades ago? and how much innovation and expansion occurred in the communications sector AFTER they broke it into the Baby Bells?
    Wow.
    A dusty old reference that actually proves the OPPOSITE of what was actually being said.
    Most impressive.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Jan 12th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    "What gives anyone the right to use someone else's property, even though they're not making money on it? I can guarantee you the phone company's going to charge you whether you're making money or not."

    First of all, what an incredible non sequitur. The phone company are charging you for one thing and one thing only - the phone service. What you use it for is irrelevant.

    What ASCAP are talking about here is charging for licences *regardless* of whether the service they provide (the right to play copyrighted songs from other artists) is used or not. This would be the equivalent of the phone company charging you a set amount every day whether you used the phone or not (on top of the line rental, of course).

    Then, what an incredible ignorance this shows of how the music industry works. There is not a single band in existence (AFAIK) who haven't cut their teeth by imitating their favourite artists in some way. Every successful band, from The Beatles to Linkin Park have cut their teeth on playing cover versions. Imagine if nobody turned up to the Cavern Club because the licensing fees were too expensive...

    If this were another RIAA effort, I'd laugh and gloat about how they're truly killing their own promotional chances. But, since this affects independent artists as well, it's a travesty. Whereas I happily boycotted the RIAA's output to protest their actions, I can't think of a way to make my feelings known here. If I boycott live gigs, the artists will hurt far more than these idiots, whereas if I help pay their licences I'm helping artists who have no right to the money to begin with. Horrible.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 1:35pm

    If someone really wants to take the profession of music seriously, it would make sense that they become a member of ASCAP/BMI. In doing so, an ARTIST gains access to not just licensing, but also a vast network of production capabilities that can take the work past that of a Youtube flavor.

    But this venue-fee thing makes my head hurt. It needs to come to a full stop. There's more to ASCAP/BMI beyond licensing, but it's all artist-focused. The corner dive bar that hosts an occasional Karaoke Night could never benefit from ASCAP/BMI membership outside of blackmail.

     

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      Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jan 12th, 2009 @ 2:44pm

      Re:

      That's what bugs me so much. I can't bring myself to become a member of SOCAN (Canadian equivalent), but everyone else in the business expects that anyone who takes their music seriously is going to be a SOCAN member.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2009 @ 12:44pm

        Re: Re:

        It is completely beyond me why a songwriter/music creator would not want to be a member of SOCAN. Don't you want to get SOCAN cheques?
        These types of attitudes are ruining it for the rest of us. Musicians are their own worst enemies.

         

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          Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 20th, 2009 @ 8:54pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "It is completely beyond me why a songwriter/music creator would not want to be a member of SOCAN. Don't you want to get SOCAN cheques?"


          I don't expect you to understand, but, no, I don't actually want to get SOCAN cheques. Not when they're seeking to implement restrictive new media tariffs on bloggers and podcasters, not when it's an all-or-nothing choice and you have to automatically assign all your performance rights to the collective, making membership incompatible with certain Creative Commons licences which I use for my music.

          "These types of attitudes are ruining it for the rest of us. Musicians are their own worst enemies."


          How so?

          Yesterday, I had a friendly chat with someone at the SOCAN booth at NXNE yesterday, and a similar attitude came through.

          On one hand, as the rhetoric goes, a songwriter owns his songs, and has a right to be compensated for any use -- it's property, just like any other!

          Yet, when you get down to the specifics... SOCAN wants me to automatically assign all my rights to them, which would mean that I am unable to waive my own rights even if I want to. If I could selectively register works with SOCAN, I'd join, but SOCAN's all-or-nothing approach is much more about supporting the collective and SOCAN's bottom line than about "giving me control over my property."

           

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      Ash Mehta, May 14th, 2009 @ 8:26am

      Re:

       

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    Anon2, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    I think you are missing something, AnonCoward -- you correctly note that much of what ASCAP/BMI does is artist-focuses, but you rail against the open mic nights. But don't you realize that it's the artists who get that $$? The songwriters, that is, since it's the person/people who wrote the composition who get these royalties, not necessarily the musicians who first performed it.

    I'm not defending ASCAP's strongarm tactics, which have been infamous for decades (long before anyone started talking about new business models or needs to fix or do away with old copyright regimes). It's why bars in the late 70s got rid of jukeboxes or spent $$ to install new digital ones, because the societies were taking the position that, since they couldn't know what 45s were being put in the jukeboxes or how many times each song was played, the jukebox vendors should just pay a relatively large flat annual fee, which of course was passed along to their clients, the bars, in the form of a smaller cut of all the coins put in them. Bars in return started to call their vendors and ask them to remove the machines, and before you know it, digital boxes were being installed that were capable of actually logging what was played and how many times. That resulted in lower annual fees from most jukeboxes. This is all, BTW, why so many classic jukeboxes like Wurlitzers, became high-end collectors items.

    But the thing is, songwriters are often the paradigmatic artists -- behind the scenes, relatively unknown, no fans, no merchandising opportunities or touring opportunities. They can be and are often very much unlike the performing artists, and they rely solely on royalty income from songs they wrote. Societies like ASCAP and BMI are essential to folks like these, and as AnonCoward points out, provide loads of very helpful resources to songwriters (though not a vast network of production capabilities, they do provide exposure and opportunities to meet and connect with the folks who daily talk to tv and film producers, makers of games, advertising agencies, and all the places where serious licensing deals are part of the business).

    I don't have a problem at all with this general structure. And, fact is, most venues do pay their fees and don't complain because it's not much money and they know it helps support the creation of new compositions, which drives the rest of the business.

    The problem is with completely innocent -- and equally necessary -- activities like open mic nights, which generally happen at truly inconsequential venues anyway, the very first places any artist or band gets to perform in many places. Yes, some of those have a couple paid nights a week, though some like coffee houses don't, just a tin cup the artist passes around after her set. I would think the better course would be to carve an exception, which would be very easy to do.

    And you would think, after a number of notorious episodes like the jukeboxes, muzak in elevators, background music in retailers, that the societies would have learned their lesson. Jukeboxes are largely a thing of the past, or are generating lower annual royalties because they are internet-connected, and capable of generating accurate reports. There is no elevator music anymore. And retailers who want music have found better options than paying royalties to the societies.

    Nobody benefits when a small venue stops hosting open mic nights, battles of the bands, and other such things. But when a venue is charging, and bands are playing covers written by other composers, it's fair to allow the composer a royalty, which only amounts to a few cents per performance anyway.

    This is all really a more complex system, but it is one that actually has worked, and by and large still does. But the excesses are what get everyone in a lather, arguing that we should now just scrap the system entirely.

     

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      Ash Mehta, May 14th, 2009 @ 8:25am

      Re:

      Here's my problem:

      We do have a contract with PlayNetwork so we can play XM at our establishment.

      We just received a letter from ASSCAP wanting money for live performances (less than 3 a month!) at our place. We PAY our musicians. Why shouldn't that be enough! I just can't see how McCartney is going to get paid if someone sings a Beatles song in our place.

      This is nothing but a shakedown and ASSCAP is not the only group out there. Unfortunately the artists get hurt in this scheme. Either we pay them less or we hire them less frequently.

      Too bad.

       

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    Jeffry Houser (profile), Jan 12th, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    I just wanted to say; as a gigging band, we had played at venues who used the "all original music" argument to the royalty societies and were able to get them to back down.

    That was quite a while ago, though.

     

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    M., Jan 12th, 2009 @ 8:14pm

    BMI/ASCAP

    American Idol wouldn't exist without ASCAP/BMI. How many songwriters are come out of this show? HUH?

    Don't you think the artists should get their cuts to promote good songwriting in the industry.

    You need to look at the trade sites before you rattle on once again Mike Masnick.

    Once again, Doh! I hate this website.... gotta quit coming back thinking that you'll change.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jan 13th, 2009 @ 12:43am

      Re: BMI/ASCAP

      American Idol wouldn't exist without ASCAP/BMI. How many songwriters are come out of this show? HUH?

      Using American Idol as your defense? Yikes. That's not working in your favor.

      First of all, you don't need ASCAP/BMI to do American Idol. Not sure why you would imply otherwise.

      Second, the number of musicians who have come through that show are a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of singer songwriters out there who have fewer venues do to what's described in the post.

      Do you really think that a season of American Idol replaces all the venues that won't do open mic nights?

      Wow.

       

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      ..., Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:00am

      Re: BMI/ASCAP

      Good songwriting in the industry? ... You're having a laugh... very little good songwriting comes out these days.. unlike previous times.. when things were less restrictive...

       

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      yolanda, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 5:26pm

      Re: BMI/ASCAP

      i had written some lyrics and bmi ascap have taken my songs even though i sent them to the company.... i had written some to the music artists... for ex. pink sang my song please don't leave me.... she gave the song another song which was what do you want from me to adam lambert...
      they sang it beautifully... never even got a response from both of them.... i am the real songwriter here.... bmi music corporation are still denying of all the songs i have sent to them... they promising of some royalties did not get nothing in return.. been a member since 1994... they said i could not have written any songs cause i am a female and mexican american.... what about that..... these people are making a percentage of the musics that make it big....
      i still have the old contracts from them......
      the other lyrics i sent to the music artists includes...
      lady gaga, rihanna, pitbull, keri hilson, britney spears... chris brown... song bedrock.with lil wayne...
      orianthi, keisha people i sent you all my info...and phone numbers why did you not call back.......

       

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    Sandy H, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 1:47am

    While I don't agree with the strong arm tactics of ASCAP/BMI, I also don't disagree that venues and shops should have to pay licensing fees. I work with performance rights in Europe and it's a whole other ball game. Some people have issues with labels collecting performance royalties, but for indies it can mean they can then promote an artist they might not have been able to afford, or releasing an unknown artist. A major problem is that in the US radio doesn't pay performance rights. The evil overlord here is Clear Channel, not BMI/ASCAP, who absolutely refuse to give up a penny to the artists or license owners.

     

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      Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 13th, 2009 @ 6:05am

      Re:

      I would say it is extremely good that the radios here do not have to pay performance rights, if indeed they don't. More money required to pay for rights, and that means more commercials, which in turn means less air time promoting the artists. Seems like they would be shooting themselves in the foot.

       

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        George Kastanza, Dec 27th, 2010 @ 6:25pm

        Re: Re:

        You are assuming that all money from commercials goes to expenses. In fact as much as possible goes to profits. Especially at companies like Clear Channel.

        I have no problem with all bars paying small fees to these societies. The problem is that the fees aren't small except for juke boxes. This encourages canned music and discourages live. While it's true that a performance would not exist without a good song, the performance is really what people are paying for with live music.

         

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      Ash Mehta, May 14th, 2009 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      We pay artists to play at Tastes of the Valleys Wine Bar. The amount we budget for live music just went down. So who go hurt in this.

       

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    samantha, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 8:14am

    bad bad bad

    It's a shame just how many people has to pay ascap, the radio's,then the store's to play the radio now clubs ext.All three has to pay a fee. And if I buy a cd of an artist We should not have to pay, (Get This) Too play it..................This is bull Shit. And about the comment from Killer_tofu your right about commercials even though I live in Ohio I listen to 975theride.com because they have no commercials the out of S.carolina. In fact I dont do tv commercials I fast forward thanks to the dvr.

     

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    Mario, Feb 5th, 2009 @ 10:42pm

    Ascap,Bmi,Sesac

    These clowns are harassing the cafe owner where we play jazz standards out of fake books.Granted,some are copyrighted,but the owner already pays Ascap $400 a year and the other two are calling him and sending letters threatening to sue etc. Is this a shakedown or what? Obama better look into this.
    Does anyone know how to deal with this crap? It seems like illegal triple-dipping, anti-business,anti-american,anti-musician greedy idiocy.
    M

     

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      Ash Mehta, May 14th, 2009 @ 8:16am

      Re: Ascap,Bmi,Sesac

      They are not getting desperate but are using shakedown techniques to get money from business owners. We PAY our musicians to play at Tastes of the Valleys Wine Bar. Shouldn't that be enough? I read somewhere that ASSCAP (sorry, my spelling isn't very good) took in $104 million in fees in 2007! We just received a letter from ASSCAP (something must be wrong with my keyboard) demanding money. Is BMI far behind?

      We are a tiny 780 square foot wine bar with 6 seats at the bar and a few tables. We pay musicians to play a couple of times a month.

       

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    No How No Way, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:53pm

    Mafia Tactics

    From what I have heard and read here, we will cease holding OUR open mic nites - of which we only do TWO per YEAR. The only folks who COME to the open mic nites are the performers buddies, anyway. I do know that the performers do NOT play covers, but this JUST isn't WORTH it. It's a real shame because we just do it as a nice thing for the artists and the community. It does NOT increase our sales at all; on the contrary, during our Open Mic Nites we usually don't sell a thing. We just put up a stage and PA to be nice! Give the community a fun activity. It does NOT benefit us at ALL. We are NOT a bar, pub or coffeehouse, we are a retail store. From what I have read, it sounds like an episode of the Sopranos with the "enforcers" getting you to pay up for "protection". I mean c'mon - Open Mic Nites? They (ASCAP) must be getting desperate.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 27th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    destroying my business.....i no longer allow live music

     

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    Bettawrekonize, May 19th, 2009 @ 4:46pm

    "ASCAP told him it didn't matter because there was no way to know if the singers were really avoiding copyrighted music, so he still needed to pay up for a license."

    What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Now it seems more like guilty until proven innocent.

     

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    Bettawrekonize, May 19th, 2009 @ 5:08pm

    "As for the non sequitur about the phone company... it's not clear what that has to do with anything"

    I guess what he's trying to say is that if you use your phone services you will be billed whether or not you're making money in the processes. Likewise, you should be billed if you use someone else's material, even if you're not making money on it. BTW, I'm not saying I agree with his arguments, just trying to figure out what he means.

     

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    Bettawrekonize, May 19th, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    "What gives anyone the right to use someone else's property, even though they're not making money on it? I can guarantee you the phone company's going to charge you whether you're making money or not."

    Based on your very BROAD interpretation of what constitutes someone elses property perhaps Webster should bill you for every single word that you use. Didn't someone (or some people) come up with the English language? By your logic, shouldn't the English language be considered someones property? Who came out with the English language? Perhaps we can give their descendants a copyright on it so that every time someone says something they have to pay a fee. What nonsense. Just because someone may say something that might, in some vague way, have a similarity to some other song does not mean they are violating copyright. The words we use, the music we make, all have fundamental properties and are composed of fundamental similarities (ie: the sentences we make are composed of similar words, the words we make are composed of similar letters. So different books share these same fundamental things in common. So if someone writes a book are they violating copyright because they may have a word that appears in some other book? Different pitches in a song should follow certain ratios, this has been fundamentally known for a long time. So if anyone makes a song that follows those rules are they violating copyright just because most other songs follow the same rules?).

     

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    Marie, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 4:15pm

    ASCAP, BMI

    In reference to these societies harming up-and-comings, what is the alternative?

     

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      Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:28am

      Re: ASCAP, BMI

      The alternative is royalty-free licensing, but it's not easy.

      It's not easy to get away from the collection societies, because they believe that they have a right to collect for any use of any music, just in case it's theirs (as evidenced by this post).

      But the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) and Attribution-Share Alike (CC BY-SA) licences both involve waiving performance rights, so an establishment which only plays CC BY or CC BY-SA music should (in theory) not owe anyone performance royalties. (As I musician, I license my works under a CC BY-SA licence and I'm not a member of any collection agency.)

      Somehow, though, I'd still expect the collection societies to come knocking.

       

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        Natanael L (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:36pm

        Re: Re: ASCAP, BMI

        It may sound like wierd Science Fiction, but here in Sweden the collection societies has recently accepted CC-licensed music as a royalty-free alternative (!).
        Who knew that even they have people with brains?

         

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    PJ Ryder, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 5:46pm

    BMI

    We are a small (100-150) music club located in downtown Detroit. We hire bands to perform original music. We often host 3 or 4 bands per night and often have music 2-4 times per week. Most bands give us their CD and ask us to play it at the bar. All we play at the bar are CDs that the bands give us.

    A BMI rep stopped in today and basically told me that we owe BMI $1100 for music licensing this year. His contention is that BMI cannot be sure if we are playing unlicensed music or not. There is a chance we are playing licensed music, therefore we have to pay licensing fees like we were hosting a Bob Seger cover band 2-4 nights per week!

    The people who play music at our club are people love music. They write it themselves. They play it themselves. They own it themselves. Who's to say they can't give it away? Who's to say that when they give it away, the owner of the building where they give it away needs to pay for music they're not playing?!


    This is plain extortion any way you cut it. I don't want to give up promoting new music but damn! I guess I'll take the paper work to my lawyer and we'll see where we'll go from here....

     

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    musicianx (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

    free free free

    If everyone had their way, musicians and all of their music would be free all of the time, and in fact, it seems that it is. Even musicians are chomping at the bit to give away their entire potential livelihood.

    re the phone analogy, of course the phone company will charge you even if you don't make a single call!! Are you kidding? I can't think of a single other business that is giving away anything!! PROs are collecting for the good of the musician. If they charge in like bulls in a china shop that's not cool, but don't attack the system that is there for the benefit of musicians, just try to make a friendly arrangement.

    re musicians having the right to give their music away. I'll bet you would think differently if there was a venue across the street from yours that was giving away food and booze, all the time. Do you think you'd be saying they have the right to do that?

    Open mic nights etc sound so altuistic but they are essential a way of getting free employees to boost your business. Everyone seems to think this is ok. Tell me where is the musician's income supposed to come from? Where, tell me?

    The system is far from perfect and many things are being worked out "on the fly" as things change rapidly. Not all of the money goes to the right places, but it is intended for musicians/artists. That's why they collect it!! Work *with* the system, don't fight against it. Of course you have to pay for music wherever and however it appears. Shut up. ASCAP etc....keep on doing your job.
    (and musicians...get your shit together!)

     

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      Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 4:14pm

      Re: free free free

      "I can't think of a single other business that is giving away anything!!"


      Really? ... really?! Not a single one?

      There's an entire book coming out about these businesses, if you need some help. Maybe, give Google a test run, as both an example of a business giving away something, and a tool to find other businesses doing the same.

      Have you been to many websites before?

      "re musicians having the right to give their music away. I'll bet you would think differently if there was a venue across the street from yours that was giving away food and booze, all the time. Do you think you'd be saying they have the right to do that?"


      Um... why wouldn't they have a right to do that? If they can stay in business, how could you possibly claim that don't have a right to do that? On what grounds?

      That you can't compete?

      Your inability to compete doesn't take away anybody's right to give away stuff they own for free. You clearly haven't thought this through for very long.

      "Open mic nights etc sound so altuistic but they are essential a way of getting free employees to boost your business. Everyone seems to think this is ok. Tell me where is the musician's income supposed to come from? Where, tell me?"


      Open mic nights are obviously for musicians who aren't able to make a living off their music yet. They provide a platform for getting started. Lots of great songwriters have honed their skills and fine-tuned their craft at open mic nights, before getting the confidence, experience and exposure they need to make money off their music.

      Or, sometimes more established artists will go to open mic nights for the community, for the chance to share music and to try out something new.

      Open mic nights aren't exploiting artists as "free employees" (I think you mean "unpaid"). Artists play their music for free in exchange for access to the platform (stage) and community (audience, often full of other songwriters).

      I bet that if a songwriter was good enough to demand money for their performance, they wouldn't be frequenting an open mic night. These are for the little guys who are getting started (like myself).

      "Of course you have to pay for music wherever and however it appears. Shut up."


      Really? What if I whistle a tune on the bus. What if it's your tune? Do I owe you money?

      What if kids are singing songs in school? Is that exploiting songwriters unfairly?

      What if a guitar teacher is playing a song to teach it to me? What if it's a violin teacher, and that song is in the public domain?


      If you think about this for a bit longer than it takes to type a comment, you'll realize that there plenty of times when you don't have to pay for music, depending on where and how you use it.

       

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        musicianx (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 8:32pm

        Re: Re: free free free

        It is very naive to compare Google with a working musician. Google isn't really giving anything away. They are zillionaires. You cannot possibly compare Google's (or Nine Inch Nail's) ability to give things away with mine. I have yet to see this in action. Personally, I can't afford to give anything more away. I make a living from music. Do you?

        "Can't I compete?" It is clear that if the restaurant across the street gives away excellent (or even half decent) food for free then NO I could not compete. Where is the competition? Yes they would have the right to do it, but I would go out of business very swiftly because naturally people would eat at the free restaurant instead of paying at mine. I could always start giving away my food too, but then that would cost me a lot of money, and what reasonable business person would want to stay in a business like that?
        (a musician I guess)

        Yes, I have thought this through. I spend a great deal of my professional life thinking this through.

        I am not aware of any other business where the participants are so willing to cut their own throats and participate in their own demise.

        Who said there aren't plenty of times when you don't have to pay for music (like when you whistle a tune on the bus)? Who said that? This is reductio ad absurdum. We are talking about situations where Performance Rights apply. Maybe you should read up on them.

        Open mics are not just frequented by rank beginners but by those at all levels and the Performance Rights apply regardless. I can think of a several examples right in my own city. These venues should not be exempt from paying the fees. They are making money from food and drinks being sold. If they weren't, *they wouldn't do it*. That's business (unless you're a musician, or course)

        And it is not the case that when you get "good enough" you will be able to demand money. Where do you get that idea? This is certainly a myth of the highest order. There are dozens of "good" musicians under every rock who can't make money from their work because now they are expected to give it away...cause after all, they're just like Google.

         

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          Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 20th, 2009 @ 2:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: free free free

          "It is very naive to compare Google with a working musician."


          I didn't compare Google with working musicians. That was just a response to your unbelievable comment: "I can't think of a single other business that is giving away anything!!"

          "Google isn't really giving anything away."


          Seriously? 99% of the services they provide are for free, and I'm being paid by Google right now to write code for an open source project (not only is that free (gratis), but it's also "giving away intellectual property" (libre)).


          "They are zillionaires."


          Yes... and, they became Zillionaires by building successful business models based on free.

          The fact that they're filthy rich supports the argument that you can give stuff away and still make a profit.

          "You cannot possibly compare Google's (or Nine Inch Nail's) ability to give things away with mine. I have yet to see this in action."


          Then you haven't been paying very close attention, because it's not just the big guys giving stuff away for free, whether we're talking about software or music.

          "Personally, I can't afford to give anything more away."


          *sigh*

          The whole point is to give away stuff for free when it doesn't cost anything to do so. When the marginal cost of reproduction is zero. Once you've made a digital audio file, the difference in cost is negligible if 1 copy is made or if 1 million copies are made.

          It hardly costs anything to give abundant goods away for free, or to let someone broadcast your song and promote your music.

          "I make a living from music. Do you?"


          A good chunk of my income actually does come from music, thanks.

          "It is clear that if the restaurant across the street gives away excellent (or even half decent) food for free then NO I could not compete."


          Right. Just like there's water flowing from the taps in our country, and absolutely no one makes a living selling bottled water. Oh, wait...

          "Where is the competition? Yes they would have the right to do it, but I would go out of business very swiftly because naturally people would eat at the free restaurant instead of paying at mine."


          Benefits. Make better food. Get feedback from your customers. Give people a reason to buy.

          The zero is irrelevant. What if it cost you $x to make a slice of pizza, and a shop across the street was selling it for $x/2. It doesn't even have to be free. The point is, they've undercut your price.

          You have two options: compete by price, or by benefit.

          You can match or beat the price. Or, you can make you offering more valuable.

          The only difference with $0 is that you can't really beat the price. You can still match it (if they can give away all their food and stay in business, why can't you?), or you can give people a reason to buy your food.

          Apple computers are more expensive, but they give customers a reason to pay a premium by offered perceived benefits.

          "I could always start giving away my food too, but then that would cost me a lot of money, and what reasonable business person would want to stay in a business like that?"


          Um, obviously the people across the street. Either they stay in business, in which case they're extremely reasonable because they've decimated the competition from you. Or, they go out of business... in which case, why are you complaining?

          Or, more likely, you find a way to adapt and give people a reason to buy your food. Sure, some people will always go for the cheaper stuff, but there's a reason some people eat at fancy restaurants instead of McDonald's all the time.

          It's not really that hard to understand...

          "I am not aware of any other business where the participants are so willing to cut their own throats and participate in their own demise."


          It happens all the time in technology, because things are moving so quickly (e.g. Intel).

          The problem is, if you don't find a way to "undercut" yourself, someone else will. You can hang on to the copyright cash cow, but when people are figuring out how to make a living with out it, that well is going to dry up soon. You can hang on to the dwindling source of revenue, or you can be one of the people learning how to make money elsewhere.

          "Who said there aren't plenty of times when you don't have to pay for music (like when you whistle a tune on the bus)? Who said that?"


          You did: "Of course you have to pay for music wherever and however it appears. Shut up."

          "We are talking about situations where Performance Rights apply. Maybe you should read up on them."


          Performance Rights is not the same was "wherever and however [music] appears." Plus, it's not at all clear cut what constitutes a performance, offline or online.

          Is hosting songs on a website a public performance? What if you need a password to access them, and only 3 people (your family members) have accounts? What if those three people are your friends? What if 3000 people have accounts? 3 million?

          When does it become public?

          You made a comment that you always need to pay for "music wherever and however it is used;" I'm using reductio ad absurdum because that's an absurd statement.

          "Open mics are not just frequented by rank beginners but by those at all levels and the Performance Rights apply regardless. I can think of a several examples right in my own city. These venues should not be exempt from paying the fees. They are making money from food and drinks being sold. If they weren't, *they wouldn't do it*. That's business (unless you're a musician, or course)"


          Have you read any of the other comments? Some of them aren't able to do it with the shakedowns from BMI. That's the point.

          For many who are starting it, the promotional value of being able to play at an open mic or having your CD spun in a venue is much more important than the nickels you'd get in royalties. Yet, these collection organizations are creative financial disincentives for venues to support open mics or play CDs from local artists.

          "And it is not the case that when you get "good enough" you will be able to demand money. Where do you get that idea? This is certainly a myth of the highest order. There are dozens of "good" musicians under every rock who can't make money from their work because now they are expected to give it away...cause after all, they're just like Google."


          Ok, agreed. That was sloppy on my part. Being good isn't enough -- you also need a business model that works.

          You're confusing what to give away. It makes sense to charge for live performances -- that's a scarcity, and it requires your time and presence. It doesn't make as much sense to charge a venue to play your recordings -- it doesn't cost you anything for them to spin your CD, and it's actually promoting your music. Why create a disincentive for venues to promote your music?

          It makes even less sense to worry about charging for every use of a digital audio file -- that's probably the only place where a comparison to Google makes some sense (as Google gives away open source software, or lets people use Gmail for free).

           

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    rjk (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    If everyone had their way, musicians and all of their music would be free all of the time

    There are plenty of people still willing to (over)pay for music.

    Not all of the money goes to the right places

    almost all the money goes to the wrong places. RIAA, Record labels and collection agencies don't give a shit about musicians. If they cared, they'd be more transparent. They are liars and cheats, why should anyone want to [w]ork *with* the system?

     

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      musicianx (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 7:04pm

      Re:

      There are plenty of people still willing to (over)pay for music

      wow, you're obviously not a working musician

      almost all the money goes to the wrong places. RIAA, Record labels and collection agencies

      What are you basing this on, exactly? And we're not talking about record labels, that is completely different. We're talking about Performance Rights Groups, collecting money for the performance of music, whether it's on the sound system at a club, on a stage at a club/festival or on (a lot but not enough of) radio. This is a business. There seems to me some misconception that PROs just line their pockets with your money. Where do you get that from? The money goes to songwriters.

      We're also talking about intellectual property and those who have it depend on the income it generates in order to make a living. I certainly do.

      why should anyone want to [w]ork *with* the system?

      I file my performances with SOCAN and get money for that, I get some airplay and I get paid for that.
      I love my SOCAN cheques and depend on them to eek out my living as a musician.

       

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    Diamond, Jun 28th, 2009 @ 4:39pm

    ASCAP or BMI?

    After checking comments on many websites about BMI and ASCAP it seems like BMI is better because they pay bigger funds/checks while ASCAP isn't doing so well on that tip.
    I'm trying to decide asap and it seems like BMI is better but, if convinced that ASCAP isn't what people proclaim it to be then things could change.

     

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    steveray green, Aug 9th, 2009 @ 10:57pm

    Musicians best interest

    The sad truth it's not just ascap/bmi etc. that does not have the musicians best interest at heart. NO ONE does! Just my momma & she could be lyin...

    The ship is goin down & it's every musician for themselves. This is that proverbial "Gun fight at the OK corral" we've heard so much about. Lie cheat & steal have replaced
    "Truth, justice & the American way". From potatoe chip bags that come from the factory Half empty-to kangaroo meat in your Bigmac.

    Integrity... now refers to how well a singer/songwriter stays together after being pummled by a baseball bat.
    I copyright thru library of congress, but so did the people who wrote Moneyworld (which you may recognize as 9 to 5. a song reportedly stolen by big ol Dolly & partner Jane Fonda)

    My "plan" is...if some millionaire superstar steals my manual labor song...They need to keep a sharp eye out on that front row when they perform it. Sooner or later I WILL be there & there will be a scene & they will have some 'splaining to doto all thier fans.

     

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    YES (profile), Aug 10th, 2009 @ 7:49am

    BMI & ASCAP folksingers' rebellion

    i have been in the music business since 1959 and am unfortunately a member of BMI -- at least until i can figure out how to withdraw from it. I sang with Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Elizabeth Cotton, Grant Rogers and others and have had a very successful career in music over the past half century. Most of my musician friends, about 500 of them, are currently out of work because venues have closed due to the insane greed of BMI and ASCAP and their extortion of small FREE OPEN MIC venues. I am advocating a folk-singers' rebellion against them, and fully expect to see them in court over this issue. I cannot sing my own songs in a health food store as a public service, and according to those money-hungry bastards, i can no longer sing public domain folksongs hundreds of years old. Well, i'm going to do it and i challenge them to take me down!!! i'll have hundreds of thousands of out-of-work musicians on my side, and all they'll have are their banks and legal teams and money, money, money!!! we'll see who wins this war! SING OUT! do not fear them!!!

     

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    Joe Ryan, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Another great club thinking of ening music

    Our local club, and great open mic / entertainmment establishment Bernice's Tavern in Chicago is getting has already been shook down for nearly 500 dollars, now sesac is going to take the place to court. I think we lost another great place to perform because of these shake-downs

     

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    Manuel Tijerino, Aug 28th, 2009 @ 5:43pm

    Yeah You Right

     

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    Beth A Jones, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 3:12pm

    I have alot to say. I am not sure about the whole music industry , but I think I am a big victim of control with fear. A ASCAP helicopter came above my house. I was being controlled by fear of losing my daughter, my home being harmed or my family being harmed. There was drug use, and names of people who used A.K.A but I will figure there names out. I love music, I did nothing but listen to the music and talk aloud everything that I was writing, songs start of books, my own. Just because I am a nobody these people are not going to steal any of my stuff to publish it as there own. I am a woman from little town in Jefferson County IN. I am not a actress in a movie called Coyota Ugly named Jersey. But I am very smart and I have plenty more in my head I quit writing and repeating my songs started worrying about what was important. But ASCAP has something to do with it. I have a picture of the helicopter b/c I was being controlled by fear. Nobody is making money off my things. Goerge Foreman trademark was his signature on everyone of his grills. Thats mine and I aint paying for no patented I created my stuff, it is mine. It is theft if taken and used without my permission. I have no GED or highschool diploma, but I am very smart. If this is the wrong website I am sorry, but I have been through to much and it's time for me to have my cake and eat it to, and some ice cream.

     

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    Laura Marie, Dec 20th, 2009 @ 10:08pm

    Trying to start a dialog with BMI

    Please join our Facebook group if you are interested in getting answers from BMI. Just to let you know, it isn't a forum to bash BMI, ASCAP or the like. We really want answers and feel the best way to get them is to enter into civil discussion.

     

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    RevBlues, Feb 23rd, 2010 @ 5:47pm

    Lawyers, Guns and Money

    The majority of the money collected by these sleazy slimy people goes directly into their pockets and anyone who says other wise is an idiot or employed by BMI et al. But they do pay some money out. Like a "finders fee" for the little circle of rats across America that turn in the "offenders". Or "Campaign Donations" to the Senators and Congressmen who allow them to operate in the first place. And lets not forget the "Musician's Rights Lobbyists"! The low life scum bag collection agencies HIDE behind the Constitutuion and no judge will go against it. What they do to the owners of small local pubs who are trying to give local talent a place to play is OBSCENE. So when they send the lawyers to your town, grab your guns and we'll see who gets the money. FIGHT BACK AMERICA! These sleaze balls once sued the Boy Scouts over campfire songs!

     

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    Rob Johnson, Jun 1st, 2010 @ 5:04pm

    Enough Already

    As a restaurant manager, I have personally experienced the aggressive tactics to put my restaurant out of business. It takes an immense amount of money to run an eating establishment. With that said, I would like to point out some flaws in the ability to charge us for rights to play music.
    1. I pay muzak to play music. 2. I pay Karaoke DJs who have already purchased the music that they play to entertain the guests. 3. I pay the live bands to play music that they already purchased the music sheet music to entertain the guests. 4. I pay DJ's music to play music that the purchased to entertain the guests and make the songs popular.

    This is in the hopes that in this economy people buy enough food and drinks to pay for all the people I try to keep employed, gas, electric, taxes (state & federal), food purchases, division of restaurants and bars, unemployment, accounting, food, beverage, up keep, etc. The list is so long it would take several pages but you get the jist.

    Please consider that we are the venues that make the songs popular that our guests go and buy. We are the businesses that are trying to keep people that are struggling financially. BMI is directly responsible for putting many a restaurant and bar out of business and consequently many people go unemployed. They in turn go get unemployment from the federal government and who ultimately pays? All of us. Tax payers.

    BMI has threatened me, my job and my business by asking for outrageous amounts of money. It is not a valid charge for a common restaurant to be the target of these fees. This is clearly a form of extortion and is clearly an assault on the common business owner.

     

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    Zack, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    Legal challenge is the answer

    I have played music for about two decades. I have seen dozens of venues shut down due to ASCAM, BMI, SESAC.

    I have heard maybe a dozen covers in the last couple years. Yet I know 10 clubs being shaken down right now in Boston for fees the clubs know will never go to the artists performing the tunes.

    And once you pay the fees you really can't justify paying live performers since you are paying fees to play recordings you might as well play the radio since you already paid the fees 4 times over. I really feel that the organizations are extorting money from small venues to pay themselves and their larger constituents royalties they do not deserve in most cases.

    A venue of 250 WITHOUT PRO-representation currently pays ALL the money to musicians. Forcing clubs to pay fees "in case someone plays a lady Gaga tune" is simple extortion since 95% of the time none of the money collected gets to the actual composer. (Yes I am aware that anyone can register.) The money goes to major label artists who are organization members. (Most small bands are not members. It really isn't worth the paperwork unless you are in heavy rotation on affiliated stations and have management to take care of the paperwork for you.)

    Pretty much the proper solution is that public performances of professional recordings (i.e. radio and cds) should pay a fee built into the radio/cd licenses for these venues. (Right now venues get hit four times paying for the music/service then paying 3 different license organizations) Small venues should be exempt. Since is rarely worth the artists time at that level and as a result the money just gets funneled to big artists in a big swindle.

    That money comes from what could be paid to performers and instead going to artists already getting radio play. (Shazam can not identify covers from live shows so that argument is just false, BTW) I think the organizations might have an argument when a club plays primarily covers or DJs from CDs. But really how are they identifying the songs? Answer: They don't. They calculate it based on participating clubs and channels play participating artists. It is basically just an excuse to shake down smaller organizations for money to give money to their members.

    Not unlike the mob.

     

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    Marguerite, Jun 15th, 2010 @ 9:03am

    BMI & ASCAP

    I am a musician and recording artist. I have done many open mics
    and make a living playing professionally as well. In my opinion, many venues expect that musicians will just come in and play for free, regardless of their level of experience or musicianship. Basically, they exploit musicians to do their marketing and advertising for them. If those venues really cared about the arts, and really appreciated what artists and musicians bring to their locales, then they would be sure to help cultivate a society that is supportive of the arts. That is - a society that is not hesitant whatsoever to cough up a few bucks to support open mics, performing musicians. Venues can pay their BMI & ASCAP fees out of a percentage of those proceeds. Then money is left to buy some decent sound equipment for the venue so musicians and open micers don't have to schlep theirs to the gig only to get paid peanuts for their many hours of time and effort. Believe me these exploitive venues aren't doing current or future musicians a favor by getting people used to having free entertainment at the expense of musicians' livelihoods. As far as I am concerned exploitive venues are dressed in a guise of progressivism when, in fact, they are really just as greedy as next free-market monger who side steps their responsibilities in maintaining a free society.

     

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      Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 15th, 2010 @ 11:55am

      Re: BMI & ASCAP

      "If those venues really cared about the arts, and really appreciated what artists and musicians bring to their locales, then they would be sure to help cultivate a society that is supportive of the arts. That is - a society that is not hesitant whatsoever to cough up a few bucks to support open mics, performing musicians. Venues can pay their BMI & ASCAP fees out of a percentage of those proceeds."


      What percentage of those ASCAP/BMI fees actually goes to musicians playing at open mics?

      Of the money that goes to artists (and I know how little of it there often is—I play at these venues), why should that be paid out to collection societies to be distributed to artists with the most airplay, as opposed to given directly to the local musicians who are actually performing?

       

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        Dylan Gaffney, Aug 16th, 2011 @ 3:55am

        Re: Re: BMI & ASCAP

        Dear Blaise,
        Thank you for your comment and this goes to my question. ASCAP is demanding a fee from me, as a small cafe owner, who gives local musicians a chance to play. I give the musicians a percentage of my gross, (20%)which I think is fair. But, when I ask them if they had ever received anything from ASCAP they just roll their eyes and shake their head. Does all the millions they collect simply protect the musician against copy write infringement? If so, they why do I have to pay for their protection? I'm confused by the whole thing! And does the estate of Frank Sinatra get a few pennies when I play his CD's? How do they know what I pop in the CD player? And is it a law they I have to pay ASCAP? I know, I should be asking ASCAP these questions, but I thought you or someone else closer to this would let me know.
        Thanks

         

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      Jay (profile), Jun 24th, 2010 @ 9:41am

      Re: BMI & ASCAP

      Furthermore, if we want to pay to use the music, why should it be so expensive? ASCAP and BMI charge extraordinary rates that continue to go up every year. However, they do not have the monopoly on licensing.

      Jamendo doesn't charge nearly as much and the artists have quite a number of rights.

      Why not find alternatives? The problem with ASCAP and BMI is the very fact that the money is not distributed evenly. Basically, it's a raw deal on all sides.

       

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    Frank Androski, Jul 20th, 2010 @ 1:26am

    Bogus article

    The solution is VERY simple. The venue should pay the blanket license fee for BMI/ASCAP. Tiny places, can be as low as $250.00 a year. Whatever it is, you are insane talking about how ASCAP and BMI are hurting songwriters. It's the MANAGEMENT OF THE VENUE that needs to handle this, just like every other place. The bad guys are the owners of the venue, not BMI and ASCAP. Man, get your story research before you post nonsense like this, please!

     

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    Michael Davis, Jul 25th, 2010 @ 5:36pm

    control

    If live music is ruined by BMI, and ASCAP, for market control purposes, then it is clear that only the wealthy and successfull artist/ song writers will prosper. The solution is not simple. Songwriters who are not affiliated have no representation.
    Control of work that only a songwriter owns is a type of corporate communism-{belonging to all}; that is all who are at that particular time collecting royalties. Thus leaving the local songwriter collecting no royalties at all and paying those who don't deserve it royalties for work they did not write or produce. Even if you are affiliated but haven't received royalties for a hit; you won't collect royalties for the license the business' are being forced to obtain. That is not simple. One does not have to be famous to be a songwriter-you simply write.

     

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    MinnesotaMusician, Sep 19th, 2010 @ 7:17pm

    As a musician who has music being played on Local TV, Local Radio and being pumped out in Bars and Strip clubs I must say we do think we deserve a little something for our works... We as a band have put in countless of our hours and poured our heart, blood, sweat, tears and soul into our performances, I'll put it this way imagine working at your job for the last two years, doing all this great work and then someone takes your work pumps it out all over and making money off of it and you receive not a dime for it! You'd be a little pissed...
    If it wasn't for BMI I wouldn't get a cent and its ONLY fair in MY opinion that Bars/Venues pay to play these songs. This is my business, my career, my job... If we dont make our money we don't eat... Why should BARS and VENUES be able to play our stuff for FREE? How is that fair at all... Pay your yearly dues, by your license and you wont get sued, that or stop playing copyrighted music... It is someone elses intellectual property, someone who spent their life making it, they deserve to get paid...

     

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      Ralph Cramdon, Dec 27th, 2010 @ 7:06pm

      Re:

      Not free. Cheap. Writers, publishers and copyright owners who aren't writers should be paid. More. The problem is these societies are trying to get it from the wrong people. Small bars. Writers should be paid much more for TV, radio, and CD/mp3 sales. But that would mean taking on strong powers instead of weak ones.

      The invention of the record player was the beginning of the end for live performance. Promotion--my ass. If canned music costs more, people would have to use live. Canned is too cheap.

      Everyone here is assuming the musicians and the copyright owners have the same interests. In fact, they are competitors. New songs crowd out old songs. So, of course they want to pretend to collect "on the chance that there may be some ASCAP or BMI songs played". They WANT to kill live music or at least limit it. Expecting these groups or any enterprise in a capitalist system to do the right thing is naive. The more successful they are, the more corrupt.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2010 @ 1:21pm

     

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    G.S., Jan 17th, 2011 @ 7:52am

    Nothing like a non musician techie who is completely ignorant about music and copyright law to give advice to musicians.

     

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    Ron, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 3:39pm

    BMI and ASCAP

    Everyone needs to cool down and realize that paying BMI and ASCAP may be the last and only American made product that can be purchased here in the states.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2011 @ 10:53am

    Just write your own music. If you are a true artist you wouldn't need someone else's music to perform.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2011 @ 8:01pm

      Re:

      Just writing and playing your own music isn't acceptable to these people. Haven't you read any of the earlier posts. There are several companies that demand you pay them an insane amount of money, and a small business can not afford it. Especially if they have to pay several different companies. Im all for the artist to get payed, when they have performed or sold their music. Why is it however that if a small town has an open mic and several local artists and high school kids want to come in and play their songs voluntarily for a good time, then is it any business of anyone else? Saying that if a kid plays some copyrighted song then the business should be shut down is insane. These are basically unions with mafia style tactics.

       

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    Mitz, Apr 30th, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    BMI - ASCAP

    We are just a teeny tiny bar in a teeny tiny town.....the above subjects have literally taken every growth opportunity out of my hands.....they have invaded my checking account and asking for more. I think we should have the right to know where and when the money is going and how much. And how much the execs are getting. Betcha it is well over 5 million......Now I hear that they are cutting back on the artists who they are supposed to be protecting. Sounds very fishy to me...

     

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    Jason, Jun 16th, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    I BMI goon came into our establishment the other day. We were told that artists are not even allowed to play their OWN music if that artist has it licensed under BMI. Why are unknown artist flocking to these companies???

     

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    Lisa Samarron, Sep 9th, 2011 @ 1:24am

    BMI - ASCAP

    I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a business that was playing a cool song that I have never heard before, and then I end up buying that CD within a few days.

    Businesses playing music is Free Advertising for the musicians.

    Several years back, when I was working at a Mini Mart, I would bring in my CD's to listen to, and customers
    would hear them too. I can tell you for a fact, that I generated sales for Nikka Costa, Bruce Dickinson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Johnny Lang, just to name a few.

     

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    ellen (profile), Dec 4th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Another Blow To Local Music

    I'm a musician and was looking for a new place to play in town. (I'm also a songwriter.) Music is my jobby (extra job and hobby) So I go to a new small locally owned coffee house and ask if they are interested in live music. The owner proceeds to tell me this horror story about these goons who tried to strong arm her for license fees (ASCAP) the amount was so exorbitant that she just decided it wasn't worth it. I am so angry... who do these people think they are? They are ****holes. If it was up to them there would be no music except that crap they market. Off with their heads!

     

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      Ben, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 5:45pm

      Re: Another Blow To Local Music

      This type of thing happens all the time. I'm so sick of them ruining things around my area. They are bullies and bullying small business owners into paying them money. So many places around here don't do live music because of them. Hows a guy supposed to make it as a musician. It's already hard enough but I have to go out of town to do it.

       

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    Joe b, Dec 31st, 2011 @ 10:01am

    ascap, bmi, and sesae

    Three that you have to pay, next thing they will come into your houses if your playing music. I do a open mic do not charge, have mostly musicians and there friends in the audiance, the club is very small, now some of these musicians do originals but the club still has to pay, the club already pays ascap or bmi already why can"t open mic be included in that cost? Im confused.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 4:40pm

    I am a local singer songwriter and I will join BMI or ASCAP so on the off chance another musician has success with my tune, I'll benifit. BMI (the non prof run by non musicians) offers a way for me to log my own performances so that I might get paid. I still haven't figured out if ASCAP does, but they are run by songwriters and publishers.... Hmmmm what will I do?

     

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    Pamela Benton, Aug 22nd, 2012 @ 8:51am

    Singers

    Where can singers get income for all the spins they get? I have charted and get nothing!!

     

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    Stan Johnson, Jun 25th, 2013 @ 8:19pm

    I tolled a place to day about playing and they told BMI asked how big their dance floor was. What? Why? It's all scam man. I mean I think people should get their fair share but its Music man that's what shows should be about making people smile. Take them away from their troubles for alittle while. if the writers want to charge me 15 for every cd of mine that I sale with one of their songs on it. Hey man you know here you are but don't kill our venues that's our livelyhood. And secondly isn't the rule on copyright "change it 20% and its yours?" Fuck it man who's to say my tempo change, vocal pattern, and lack of other instruments ( I'm solo acoustic mostly) and key doesn't make it change 20%. I bet it does change it that much. If it was any other product it would be mine. Idk man. They are a bunch of crooks.

     

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    Barry W Sirota, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Do performers pay license fees to BMI

    Do performers singing their own original music pay lcnese fees......do composers pay any kind of fee to BMI to belong?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 12:03am

    Kid rock rips off waren zevon. And these assholes couldnt stop that npw cpuld they????? Fucking assholes

     

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    Pete, Feb 5th, 2014 @ 6:06pm

    ASCAP Going Too Far

    What about those who buy a music book with many songs in them to play? Does it say if you play any of this music by yourself or with others for free you have to pay or get permission from every artist in the book? This is ridicules

     

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    lordkoos (profile), Apr 6th, 2014 @ 11:36am

    PROs totally misguided shakedowns...

    ASCAP and BMI are killing live music in my area. A tiny bar in a tiny town (Mike's Tavern, Cle Elum WA) has stopped hiring live music because of this. A very small wine bar owner in another nearby small town was told he needed to come up with $14,000 to cover what he owed for having occasional live and recorded music for the last ten years. I understand the need for these organizations, but dunning very small businesses for that kind of money is totally counterproductive. With the new world of downloads, the mechanical royalty revenue stream has dried up. In the case of BMI, they encouraged a songwriter friend of mine to report on the people who host the house concerts that he plays. (He plays only his own original material). Why the hell would he want to do that, these people are his friends and employers?

     

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    Mr. krinkle 1993, Apr 8th, 2014 @ 4:50pm

    So not to sound like a anarchist, but...

    Being a young musicians and someone who has seen how ascap have treated small business. how can I put this delicately... What do I need to do to literally burn this organization to the ground? Where do I need to sign, How do I start a petition?

     

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