SOCAN Wants To Charge Buskers Performance Fees

from the you-have-to-be-kidding-me dept

One of the themes of 2009 was that collection societies around the world went nuts trying to charge for anything they possibly could, while also trying to increase the rates they could charge. Remember how one collection society wanted to charge a woman because she put on music for her horses? Or how about the woman who worked in a grocery store, who was told to stop singing while stock the shelves, or the store would have to pay a performance fee. And, of course, we had ASCAP trying to claim that ringtones were performances, and mobile operators needed to pay up -- beyond the license fee that was already paid on the recording.

SOCAN, up in Canada, has been no exception, pushing for drastically increased rates that cover new places as well. But the most ridiculous may be the one sent in by a few people (Jesse was the first) about how SOCAN is trying to get buskers -- street musicians -- to pay a performance fee if they perform in SkyTrain stations in Vancouver. SOCAN is claiming that TransLink, the transit authority for the trains in Vancouver should be paying up to $40,000 in performance fees for all the buskers singing in stations, and TransLink's response is to pass those fees on to the buskers.

Of course, many musicians actually got their start as buskers, and built up their performance chops that way, but SOCAN is about to put them out of business by making it pretty damn costly to busk where it often makes the most sense. Nice work, SOCAN, in harming the very musicians you're supposed to be helping.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    william (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:26am

    probably something to do with the olympics

    well, winter olympics is coming up fast and furious.

    Maybe they think the buskers will make a fortune from all the tourist and they want a cut.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    That's stupid on every conceivable level.

    You used to be OK, Canada. What the hell happened to you?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    Re:

    They became the US's suburb.

     

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  4.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:01am

    "many musicians actually got their start as buskers"

    The Violent Femmes got their start busking in Milwaukee. That's where they were discovered by the guitarist of the Pretenders. Chrissie Hynde invited them to perform an acoustic set before her show and the rest, as they say, is history.

     

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  5.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Re: probably something to do with the olympics

    "Maybe they think the buskers will make a fortune from all the tourist and they want a cut."

    Or maybe they want to force the buskers out to keep them from harassing the tourists.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    SOCANT: Proudly turning Canadian performance rights into performance wrongs since 1990

     

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  7.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:59am

    If we don't do this, artists will be working for nothing!

    But how will the artists get paid! If we don't have these royalties, that would mean asking artists to work for free! In order to pay artists, we need to take money from... the... err... uh... artists... *scratches back of head*

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    CC

    What if the busker is preforming their own songs and art?

    How can SOCAN lay claim over them? Do they not need to first prove violations other then 'because we say so'? Why not just have the Transit Authority only authorize Original Performances or Create Commons expressions to avoid the whole Collection Group extortion act.

    TIME TO IMPLEMENT CREATIVE COMMONS ONLY REQUIREMENT! Avoid all Collection Group affiliations trying to shake you down for your fart sounding like one of their tunes.

     

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  9.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Maybe that will encourage buskers to play independent or original songs thus encouraging creativity and helping the cause. ..well until the buskers get mad that one busker is banking just covering all the other buskers songs and start demanding he pay.

     

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  10.  
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    iamtheky (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Maybe that will encourage buskers to play independent or original songs thus encouraging creativity and helping the cause. ..well until the buskers get mad that one busker is banking just covering all the other buskers songs and start demanding he pay.

     

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  11.  
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    Racine personal injury lawyer, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    At this point artist can't perform original songs in public areas due to the people protecting their rights. Houston we have a logic fail.

     

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  12.  
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    MBraedley (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

    Re:

    Stephen Harper got elected.

     

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  13.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Re: CC

    Unfortunately (if you read the full article) there is a legal "presumption of copyright status" operating - which puts all the burden onto the person who is claiming that the work is PD/CC/original. These guys have thought of everything - sucks doesn't it.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:48pm

    I just don't understand

    Why you people put up with this crap.. I have not watched a TV, DVD, or listened to the radio for so long now I can't even remember. You should do the same.. Best way to fight back is with your wallets.. Let's let them know how we really feel.. Come on!! You can do it! Thrown that big ass 50" TV out the window and step up.. It's all your freedoms that are being pulled away by all these Nazi bastards in charge!

     

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  15.  
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    Mechwarrior, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 12:48pm

    Even if the buskers play their own music, in SOCAN's perspective, the mere prospect of them playing someone elses song is enough to force payment.

     

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  16.  
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    Josh, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Coming soon the "Shower Performance Fee" get a family four pack and save before the new year begins

     

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  17.  
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    interval, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    I keep waiting for that breakthrough court case in which some one finally challenges these guys and mops the floor with them as the court puts an end to this nonsense. I mean c'mon! Singing a tune while bussing tables? They get to charge FOR THAT!!?? That's nonsense. Utter nonsense. This has to stop.

     

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  18.  
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    Peter Mandic, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    So who exactly gets this money ($40,000)? Is it like a record label that when all expenses are accounted for, $1.62 is shared by the band? Socan is getting carried away with this. Theoretically if you perform original tunes you could get additional compensation from Socan that is if there was anything left after expenses.

     

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  19.  
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    Perry K (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    FYI these are the items that SOCAN deems to be licensable

    from their website. (and yes, I'm breaking copyright law by reproducing the information without prior written consent)
    source: https://www.socan.ca/jsp/en/lic/n_user.jsp



    • Background Music on Hold over a Telephone [15B]
    • Background Music provided by Audio Tapes / Compact Discs /
    Jukeboxes / Radio attached to speakers [15A]
    • Fitness / Dance Instruction [19]
    • Karaoke [20]
    • Live Entertainment Accompanied by Recorded Music [3B]
    • Live Music (i.e. Bands / Single Performer) [3A]
    • Motion Picture Theatre / Drive-In Theatre [6]
    • Receptions, conventions, assemblies and fashion shows [8]
    • Recorded Music for Dancing [18]
    • Recorded Music in an Adult Entertainment Club [3C]
    • Recreational Facilities Operated by Municipality, School, College or University [21]
    • Skating Rink (Roller / Ice) [7]

     

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  20.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Illogic

    > ven if the buskers play their own music, in SOCAN's perspective,
    > the mere prospect of them playing someone elses song is enough
    > to force payment.

    Using the dubious logic that they should be paid based on what *might* happen, they should then be able to force every business and venue everywhere to pay them performance fees, even if the venue uses no music at all, on the off-chance that someone might show up with a guitar or a saxophone and play a copyrighted song.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymusician, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 2:38pm

    Re: no royalties for original songs in subways

    Sadly, buskers can't register subway performances with SOCAN to get royalties from the original songs they play.

     

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  22.  
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    Pirate My Music (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    Damnit SOCAN, Damnit.

    I am a Canadian Musician.

    I am a member of SOCAN.

    I get royalties from SOCAN (not much, but enough, from CD sales with a couple of songs I co-wrote).

    I have this sinking suspicion that being a member of SOCAN is more of a detriment than a benefit. They are just another industry landmine, waiting to maim innocent bystanders or kill the careers of burgeoning artists.

    SOCAN is a dinosaur and has no understanding of what musicians need or want. Every year they get worse and worse and I see less and less. This is just another example of SOCAN trying to squeeze every cent from those that don't deserve the squeeze ("deserve", is a poor word, but it's the best I can come up with). They are nothing more than shills for the corporations that leave us struggling artists holding the bag.

    I am pulling my membership from SOCAN for 2010. I don't need them and I don't want to be a part of the cancer they represent.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Damnit SOCAN, Damnit.

    Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 6:42pm

    Do they have IQ tests when applying for jobs in the music industry? You must be sub 80 to given a job?

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 9:43pm

    Do not hum if you do not have the rights to the song.
    Do not hum if you did not paid the collection agency first.

    Would they charge inmates for singing or performing?

    I think all business and venues should stop using music and tell to their patrons exactly why they cannot afford to let any music inside.

    Put a sticker on the outside "No Music Inside courtesy of ASCAP(or any other collection agency)".

    Better yet use directional sound to create an ambient with music and another without music and charge absurds amounts of fees from those that want music while eating or exercising :)

     

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  26.  
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    The Mad Hatter (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 10:04pm

    Guess what happens if you perform your own music?

    You still pay. That's right. You still pay, even if you own the copyrights on all of the songs you perform. And since you are a busker, not a "MUSICIAN", you aren't entitled to a payout.

    SOCAN is a ripoff organization. At one point I was trying to start a software company, and I called them to ask about buying "levy free" compact discs. I was told that I couldn't. When I asked them if they wanted me to move to the United States so that I could buy media "levy free" I was told that they didn't care if I did, but that if I was buying media in Canada, or importing media, and producing software compact discs, I had to pay the music copyright levy. Nice scam, isn't it?

    That was about 20 years ago. Fast forward to this year. I have some good computer equipment, and friends who are singer/song writers. They often play bars, and want media to sell, and heck, the equipment is cheap now, so I bought it, and I've been doing recording. Do you think I can buy "levy free" media? Fat chance. To do that I'd have to register a company, and be buying large quantities of discs. The people I'm doing this for can't afford to buy large quantities of discs from me. Hell, if they could, they'd have a professional record them. So every disc I do for them, which has their copyrighted music on it, has a fee which goes to SOCAN. My friends get nothing back. The big acts sit back and smile.

    SOCAN claims it exists for the musicians. Yeah, right.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 11:28pm

    Re: Re: Damnit SOCAN, Damnit.

    Wait! Leave the door open so others may easily follow.

     

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  28.  
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    Nick Tann (profile), Dec 8th, 2009 @ 2:04am

    Erm

    Buskers stop playing in rail stations, simple.
    Play somewhere else and stop crying....

     

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  29.  
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    buskerjames (profile), Dec 8th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Busking

    I'm not sure if Nick Tann who commented on this article is farmiliar with what is going on with Socan as he lives in the UK according to his webpage. The perception of buskers is gaining ground as the internet is an amazing tool to link them together around the world buskers movements are popping up all across Canada and North America, there are some lawsuits also showing up against municipalities who want to dig their heels in and ask buskers to pay more money.
    The only difference is buskers don't usually ask for money like municipal law makers are doing they are paid by donation or gratuity

     

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  30.  
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    Nick Tann (profile), Dec 9th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    Erm

    I'm sorry James but I can't understand what you are trying to say.
    Buskers do ask for money, they don't just do it for fun. You may call it a donation or a gratuity but the hat aint there for nothing.

     

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  31.  
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    johnbond, Apr 14th, 2014 @ 7:27am

    From what I understand they are just street performers. They appreciate money but don't technically expect you to pay them. So they shouldn't be charged because they are being paid simply out of charity.
    John Bond |

     

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