Nice Work ASCAP: Convinces Yet Another Coffee Shop To Stop Promoting Local Bands

from the all-about-the-money dept

We see nearly identical stories every six months or so, but Chris Curvey has sent in the latest involving the various US collection societies — ASCAP, BMI and SESAC threatening a little coffee shop into canceling all live music, after demanding a performance license, despite the fact that the coffee shop only has local, unsigned bands playing, with a promise that they won’t play any cover songs. It’s the same old story that we hear over and over again. The venue insists that only unsigned bands are playing, and they’re not playing ASCAP music, and ASCAP says that it doesn’t matter. You need to pay up just in case a band happens to hum someone else’s song:

“I am 100 percent in compliance,” Hopper said. “I’m not charging cover at the door. I’m not paying the bands, and they are just playing songs they wrote. They essentially said to me, ‘We don’t care. We have this low-end licensing fee you must have because there is a chance your band might play a cover song.’ ”

This has been happening all over the country, and the end result is actually causing massive harm for up-and-coming artists. That’s because these kinds of coffee shops and small bars that used to be where most musicians would get their start via open mic nights, are now banning all music to avoid having to pay these licenses. It means there are fewer places for musicians to have a chance to perform in front of a live audience. ASCAP/BMI/SESAC claiming that they’re helping artists is a flat out lie. Their mission is really to support the largest acts at the expense of smaller acts, and ridiculous demands on coffee shops like the one above contributes to that situation. They even admit it at times, when you catch them talking candidly.

Some folks have been willing to stand up to these collection societies, like the town in Connecticut who received license demands for music played at the town center. In response, the town council voted to ignore the threats. But, it seems that it’s just easier for most little shops to just stop playing music altogether. Of course, that goes against ASCAP’s public claims of being in the interest of artists, but ASCAP and BMI have made their real goals clear through their actions, and it has little to do with actually helping up-and-coming artists. After all, they might compete with the big stars.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: ascap, bmi, sesac

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Nice Work ASCAP: Convinces Yet Another Coffee Shop To Stop Promoting Local Bands”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
214 Comments
Yogi says:

Re: Why

It’s just a question of resources. Legacy companies have very deep pockets. Small shops and individuals cannot deal with that. Even senators are easily tempted and the (idiot) president himself has been bought.

There is no easy solution, except talk about and educate whoever you know and of course refrain from buying RIAA music.Just support indie.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why

“There is no easy solution, except talk about and educate whoever you know and of course refrain from buying RIAA music.Just support indie.”

Why no solution? I see a very nice solution: an owner’s union. In fact, there is probably a great need to be filled for small to mid sized venues such as this that offer a place for indie artists to play music. Why couldn’t they band together, pay a nominal membership fee, and fight this bullshit together.

As one they may be weak, but as many….

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

DH, Dude utterly brilliant !!! and thanks

nnn note/entry) an online owners union, guild, organization for the protection of small to mid sized venues from collection agencies.

“I see a very nice solution: an owner’s union. In fact, there is probably a great need to be filled for small to mid sized venues such as this that offer a place for indie artists to play music. Why couldn’t they band together, pay a nominal membership fee, and fight this bullshit together.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why

it is because mike is spinning them as hard as he can in one direction, typical david versus goliath stuff. you can find odd individual cases in almost any system. but mike doesnt write stories about the tens of thousands of live venues that pay into the system, providing a very good income source to song writers and original artists, who profit when someone else uses their songs to make a living. he would rather focus on a small negative, rather than the large benefits. that is okay, that is the techdirt way.

DH's love child says:

Re: Re: Why

“but mike doesnt write stories about the tens of thousands of live venues that pay into the system, providing a very good income source to song writers and original artists, who profit when someone else uses their songs to make a living”

citations needed. Please elucidate us to all these stories of ASCAP/BMI looking out for ALL artists and not just the top tier.

I won’t be holding my breath.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3i7362e28f2f885808c8c36bebc0733044

By Ed Christman, N.Y.

American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers collected $933 million last year, an 8% increase from the $863.3 million gathered in 2007, management of the member-owned organization announced at the annual meeting that kicked off its New York Sessions event.

At the same time, payouts increased 10.2% to $817 million from the $741.3 million paid out in 2007.

For the period, operating expenses came in at an all-time low of 11.3% of revenue. In the prior two years, the organization’s expense ratio was 11.9% and 12.1% in 2006.

But the organization added that despite its record revenue collection, it
“anticipates challenges ahead relative to compensation for its members’ music performances. Specifically, many of the businesses that are driving an explosive growth in music use across digital channels have yet to agree to fair licensing terms for the use of ASCAP members’ works,” the organization said in the announcement on its financials.

“ASCAP worked hard in 2008 to collect and distribute the most money
possible for hard-working songwriters, composers, lyricists and music
publishers,” said John LoFrumento, ASCAP CEO. “We also continued providing a strong slate of professional development opportunities, such as the annual ASCAP ‘I Create Music’ Expo, and intensified our advocacy efforts on behalf of all music creators, through initiatives like the ‘Bill of Rights for Songwriters and Composers.'”

But in looking ahead, LoFrumento, said, “Digital use of music is
skyrocketing, which should be good news for all music creators. Yet to date, we have faced strong resistance on the licensing front from many digital businesses. If this continues even as digital music use explodes, music creators will have a much tougher time earning a living from making music.”

He said it is vital that all users of music in the online, mobile and other
digital areas come to the table in good faith to negotiate fair licensing
fees for music performance. He also said they must give music creators fair compensation, considering the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent and earned annually by these digital companies.

ASCAP continues to offer an array of programs and initiatives, including: “A Bill of Rights for Songwriters & Composers”; ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO, an April 23-25 national conference in Los Angeles, dedicated to songwriting and composing; Mediaguide, which tracks broadcast and Internet radio performances via digital fingerprinting technology; PREP (Performing Rights Enterprise Program), a technology platform that gives members online
access to ASCAP’s performance and royalty distribution databases; ASCAP Network, an online music showcase delivering nearly 3 million streams a month; and MusicPro Insurance, which provides affordable instrument, studio and tour insurance coverage to thousands of music professionals, regardless of performing rights organization affiliation.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why

Your quoted article offers absolutely nothing in the way of how much of that money distributed goes to the small artists.
We have seen articles before that directly state that most of the money collected goes towards just the top few. So they could collect an increase of 200% more than they do now, and they will still be assholes screwing over all the little people and only focusing that money to the rich few on top.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

nah, its just the Masnick way. he hates big business. he is anti-capitalist, and pro free everything.
he cant report, he always spins. there isnt an ounce of objectivity in his writing. all his articles are laced with his opinion, and creatively looking for ways to twist truth into his favor.

Freedom says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why

>> nah, its just the Masnick way. he hates big business. he is anti-capitalist, and pro free everything.

Wow! I’ve never gotten that out of anything MM has said. My impression is MM is for innovation and removing road blocks whenever possible and challenging the core assumptions that those roadblocks currently in place do more good than harm.

He always promotes competition and fair markets over excess government/political controls.

The folks that are for protectism believe there is no real world externalities involved in their policies that they force on us. He just highlights the side-effects caused by those trying to protect their turf.

Freedom

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 nah, its just the Masnick way. he hates big business. he is anti-capitalist, and pro free everything. he cant report, he always spins. there isnt an ounce of objectivity in his writing. all his articles are laced with his opinion, ..........

yep,

but he can still change, and get better at reading and writing.. if he wishes techdirt do be a serious policy forum

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 nah, its just the Masnick way. he hates big business. he is anti-capitalist, and pro free everything. he cant report, he always spins. there isnt an ounce of objectivity in his writing. all his articles are laced with his opinion, ..........

Look who’s talking about reading and writing difficulties.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

My grandma still gets royalty checks from ASCAP. I’m pretty sure neither she nor my late grandpa would fit your definition of the “top tier.”

Techdirt is a blog (or whatever you’d like to call it) from an author with a certain viewpoint, for readers with a certain viewpoint. This is not a source for stories that challenge that viewpoint.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 This is not a source for stories that challenge that viewpoint

If one person argues one position, and another argues the opposing position, that’s a pretty good way to keep people honest. People seeking the truth (as opposed to support for the previously held views) can look at both sides and make up their mind.

Otherwise, you just get an echo-chamber where nobody questions the commonly-held viewpoint (e.g., freerepublic.com).

Jim_Nance (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 This is not a source for stories that challenge that viewpoint

Rick Rubin came up with a sensible, practical solution. If all music users paid a modest fee and then had access to all music both new and classic, the boodle could be shared with all artists whose music is downloaded, played on juke boxes, TV and radio. (and shared with the sticky fingered corporate swindlers too, of course)

Record company royalty would have to rethink their inflated sense of entitlement, and instead of making bazillions on a few hits they’d have to share with artists as old as The Zombies and Bill Haley, and not just their chicken hawk A&R in-laws and their new boy band stars.

Rubin wants to see those record companies’ palaces razed to rubble, and he (and others including yours truly) would like to see a truly equitable split of the loot. Especially after the lovely Ms. Mary Wells and Friendly Womack, Jr. took time to explain the attempt to recoup royalties (from Berry Gordy, Jr.) to me nearly 30 years ago, winning my support for it and them.

A modest users’ fee (multiplied by millions of kids and adults who pay little or nothing now) would inspire and encourage compliance instead of empowering and channeling the geniuses who will likely defeat all attempts to curtail/criminalize file sharing.

Rick Rubin has a workable plan but he doesn’t think like a greedy oligarch. Needless to say there is resistance from those who want to stock another gold vault with each new multi-platinum release.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Not everyone is a lame cover band

The truth is that the bulk of the artists that really matter or not lame cover bands. They don’t need an ASCAP licensed venue as a crutch. They are writing their own material. Even the bulk of the big label acts are like this. If a venue is catering to a discriminating consumer, there simply isn’t going to be anything for ASCAP to license.

They are demanding something for nothing. It doesn’t matter how much of an edge case it is. You should be first in line to tell them to cut it out.

Being a corporate toadie is no excuse to excuse obviously bad behavior.

Even bad hair bands and disco acts manage to write their own (bad) material.

Dom S says:

Re: Re: Why

I love reading your comments… they’re sooo meaningless they almost have a meaning.
if you have a problem with Mike, just come out with it. otherwise get off the blog and go post comments on a pro-*IAA blog/forum… where you’re comments are likely to be shouted down by people there because you’re so dam clueless.

you’re reading HIS blog anyway you moron!
OBVIOUSLY he’s going to report on what he (and the rest of us) think is relevant. most of the time from the viewpoint of those people who have at least a small about of brain power and have resisted the urge to be paid off by the various lobbying companies.

this whole article highlights a SERIOUS problem with the way ASCAP work and how they approach firms. from this report (however its written) its plain to see that they are trying to force licence fees when they have no basis. end of story.

im sorry if all this is too overwhelming or a little too complicated for you. but then you demonstrate your mental age frequently with your pointless drivel.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

there is nothing pointless in what i am bringing up. what you are seeing here is the equivalent of gotcha politics. you ignore all the good that is done, you ignore all the people who are properly paid as a result of the system, and you focus instead on the smallest of the small end, and any minor error in approach that might exist. mike then turns around and uses that small error to damn the entire system.

as for this example, my question is simple: do these bands never play happy birthday, or play any other cover song ever, ever, ever? does the coffee shop not profit from the presence of live music in their venue? is there a reason this coffee shop should be ignored but the bar next door charged a license? it seems odd.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Why

A: Techdirt references its sources

B: Every source is bias being that sources come from bias people. I try to be bias towards the truth. What you actually mean is a source that more strongly agrees with your bias.

The quote came from one of the potential defendants being threatened. What better source should he quote, your opinion? The opinion of some clueless third party?

ChronoFish (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why

“….as for this example, my question is simple: do these bands never play happy birthday, or play any other cover song ever, ever, ever?…”

In the US our legal system is “innocent until proven guilty”. Is there a band somewhere out there that plays covers? Yes. Do all bands have to pay a consequence for that? No.

“… does the coffee shop not profit from the presence of live music in their venue?” Absolutely. And it’s none of RIAA’s or anyone’s else damn business if they are making money off of a band an unsigned local band.

“…is there a reason this coffee shop should be ignored but the bar next door charged a license? it seems odd…”

Nope – no reason. Neither place should be charged a license. It does seem odd that you think both should…

-CF

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Why

Just out of curiosity, when would you guess Happy Birthday was written? I’m not certain, but without searching online, I’m guessing the 40s.

I think copyright protection probably lasts too long, but I’m not certain a song written in the 40s should be in the public domain.

At any rate, I think the system is certainly imperfect, but not “broken” in some sort of irreparable sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Why

Interesting. So the putative copyright owner claims 1935 as the authorship date but it might have been much earlier.

Then it could be in the public domain, depending on the true facts.

At any rate, I think life + 70 is too long a term given current lifespans, but I don’t think the system is irreparably broken.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 At any rate, I think life + 70 is too long a term given current lifespans, but I don't think the system is irreparably broken.

70 too long ? 70 too short !!

If the Rockefellers and Kenedys can pass $$ and biz on to grand-children and great-grandchilren,

why should not John , Paul , George and Ringo be able to have their estates control and profit from their Art for 1000 years?

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 At any rate, I think life + 70 is too long a term given current lifespans, but I don't think the system is irreparably broken.

“If the Rockefellers and Kenedys can pass $$ and biz on to grand-children and great-grandchilren,

why should not John , Paul , George and Ringo be able to have their estates control and profit from their Art for 1000 years?”

There is nothing stopping The Beatles from passing their wealth on, through their estates, in exactly the same way as the Rockefellers and Kennedys do. The fact that their children may not be able to play a musical instrument is merely comparable to the fact that the Rockefeller’s children may not be any good at business.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 why should not John , Paul , George and Ringo be able to have their estates control and profit from their Art for 1000 years?"

clearly you are new here.

So , click my profile , check my several hundred recent posts here on this topic , & go to my websites because “before you accuse me , take a look at yourself,,,,,,.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 why should not John , Paul , George and Ringo be able to have their estates control and profit from their Art for 1000 years?"

I’ve been here longer than you have and you don’t know how art works if you’re advocating for copyright to last for 1000 years. That’s asinine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 At any rate, I think life + 70 is too long a term given current lifespans, but I don't think the system is irreparably broken.

The short answer? Because it conflicts with the purpose of copyright protection in this country (to promote the progress of science and useful arts).

A limited monopoly promotes creativity through the profit motive, but the expansion of that monopoly prevents creative use works and the public enjoyment of those works.

You’ve got to strike the balance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why

“what you are seeing here is the equivalent of gotcha politics. you ignore all the good that is done”

You mean how the RIAA and other organisations are claiming all technology is evil, from casettes to P2P, while pocketing the annually increasing revenues the same technologies bring in?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 TAMster too stupid again

there is nothing pointless in what i am bringing up

Really? So it’s not pointless to mention

“who profit when someone else uses their songs to make a living.”

when the entire post is about bands playing original material and NOT PLAYING OTHER PEOPLE’S SONGS?

Sucker.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

“they’re sooo meaningless they almost have a meaning.
if you have a problem with Mike, just come out with it. otherwise get off the blog and go post comments on a pro-*IAA blog/forum”

Could you list the URLs of a couple of these Pro **AA blogs please. I would love to be the Anti-Anti-Mike on a couple of them … ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

First, I’m not sure if people realize this, but I’m pretty sure “Anonymous Coward” is a label Techdirt applies to commenters who don’t sign in with a name, not *one* person making comments.

Second, you seem to take Mike Masnick’s spin on a situation as the gospel truth. I’d be reluctant to do that.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 First, I'm not sure if people realize this, but I'm pretty sure "Anonymous Coward" is a label Techdirt applies to commenters who don't sign in with a name, not *one* person making comments.

you know it took me a while to figure that out too,, i thought AC was just one person who drank too much coffee , or was a techdirt employee,, or both.

anymouse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why

Hi TAM,

Since it’s so easy to identify the large benefits. Please provide a listing of the top and bottom 5 beneficiaries of each collection agency, so we can see these benefits first hand.

In case that’s too complex of a request for you to grasp, list the top 5 artists and bottom 5 artists and the amounts each one received from each of the 3 collection societies. They provide so much benefit that this should be a simple request, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

you should ask someone who works for asacp for that info, i dont work there and neither does mike. if they made it public i am sure you can find it on the interwebnet thingie you are sitting in front of. this is where you learn you cannot order anyone to do work for you.

Any Mouse says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why

Actually, you should note that no one is asking someone to do work for them. We’re asking posters to do the work of proving their point. If they can’t do it, as you’ve just stated you cannot, they should not be surprised when they are met with ridicule and derision.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why

…the tens of thousands of live venues that pay into the system, providing a very good income source to song writers and original artists, who profit when someone else uses their songs to make a living.

Your statement didn’t add to the discussion. If, however, you prove the above assertion, that would add to the discussion and make Mike look bad.

In other words, proof or GTFO.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

Poving that ASCAP isn’t worthless doesn’t disprove the idea that they are running amok. They are still running amok no matter how much good they are doing. The good that they are alleged to do should not be used as an excuse for when they run off the rails.

You can justify all sorts of nonsense that way.

ASCAP is simply trying to line it’s own pockets and continually grow revenue in a manner that is expected of all business these days. It suffers from the same expecations that any other large company does.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why

The idea isn’t to prove that ASCAP isn’t worthless.

The idea is to prove that Mike has been ignoring ‘the tens of thousands of live venues that pay into the system, providing a very good income source to song writers and original artists, who profit when someone else uses their songs to make a living’ in order to make ASCAP look bad.

That was the assertion made in the comment that I replied to, that I asked the commenter to prove.

I agree with you about ASCAP. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why

No, it’s not spot on. We already know that those who pay ASCAP play music. That’s not the point. The point is why is it illegal to play any kind of music without paying ASCAP? Why should a restaurant be forced to pay some parasite, who does nothing to add value to the equation, just to play the music that someone gives to the restaurant to freely play? The answer. For no good reason.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The point is why is it illegal to play any kind of music without paying ASCAP?

Because people lie ,, and ASCAP cannot put a full time employee into the bar , to constantly monitor the bands that play there.

As well the original band material , may not be that original , and their original songs may just be ripping off chuck berry et al.

I am a musician , I see guys all the time try to pawn as new and original stuff songs that are just complete riff-offs of other artists ,, either by intend or accident.

Either way , if you rip off lyrics or melody in your “original rip-off song “, you have pay the “original-original artist” through ASCAP or whatever royalty facilitator they choose. It is the Law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The point is why is it illegal to play any kind of music without paying ASCAP?

Because people lie ,, and ASCAP cannot put a full time employee into the bar , to constantly monitor the bands that play there.

How is the establishment supposed to ensure this, anyhow? You expect the management to prioritise if a band does a cover version by watching the bands constantly? How much pop music do you expect the management to know? Does it count if the band is playing an indie remix or similarly deriative work? If a band plays Pachelbel’s Canon in D are you going to demand payments to Vitamin C, Aerosmith, Green Day, U2, Avril Lavigne, etc, etc…

I don’t know how you can expect to state with a straight face that everyone else but ASCAP definitely has to be lying, either, but then we’ve all seen the sort of blanket statements you can make.

Either way , if you rip off lyrics or melody in your “original rip-off song “

Good luck trying to figure out payments when someone writes a song with “I love you”, or some other overused phrase.

you have pay the “original-original artist” through ASCAP or whatever royalty facilitator they choose. It is the Law.

How did ASCAP’s attempt to charge consumers for their ringtones publicly ringing go, again?

willy says:

Re: Re: Re:6 The point is why is it illegal to play any kind of music without paying ASCAP?

You have a point, eastern societies have little tradition of intellectual property, so perhaps we should remove those two dirty little words from the constitution, trademark and copyright, in the interest of world harmony. Just think, then someone could mirror this board with their own advertising attached and make a profit off of all of us. I believe this post is now owned by techdirt, subject to argument….do you have a remove link?

Laurel L. Russwurm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why

you’re kidding, right?

good income source to songwriters and original artists? Good thing I wasn’t drinking anything because that would surely have make it come out my nose.

The game has been rigged against the artists for quite some time. Mike doesn’t HAVE to make it up. What you need to do is go out and find a real life songwriter or recording artist who is NOT a household word that makes more per year than the receptionist at the copyright collective. Hmm, that might be too tough. You might be able to do it for the janitor….

Copyright collectives seem to have gotten just as demented at the record labels.

francismann says:

Re: Re: Why

What?is?at?issue?is?independent?artist?and?the?small?venues
supporting?them?being?allowed?to?operate?and?create?without
being?extorted.?As?a?professional?musician?I?deeply?resent?
ASCAP?insisting?its?working?on?my?behalf.?I’ve?known?more?
than?one?venue?this?story?happened?to?which?means?less places?I?can?perform?my?original?work?at?to?feed?myself?and?my?wife!?Did?you?know?in?their?licensing?contract?for?venuesASCAP?includes?a?fee?on?door?charges??If?I?perform?in?a?club
that?follows?that?policy?who?ends?up?with?a?percentage?of?my
hard?earned?money??Eminem??These?creeps?should?stick?to?big
money?pop?and?leave?small?businesses?alone!

being?able?

interval says:

Re: Re:

We know that anyone can sue anyone else for any reason. We also know that the courts can (usually) sniff out a frivolous lawsuit. We also (ostensibly, in the US) have a tradition & mentality of “doing your own thing”-ism and so on. So given all this, you mean to tell me that as soon as a collection agency comes around threatening suit because a venue owner invites local bands to play their music with no connection to any of those agencies that venue owner caves? Even as a completely naive club owner I would tell those agencies to go f*ck themselves. How in the world would anyone think that such an action would have even 2 seconds in court room merit???? It makes no sense to me that anyone would cave in to such nonsense. Its as if Segram’s started cracking down on a kid’s lemonade stand. Normal people would laugh Segram’s out of the neighborhood.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Re: So given all this, you mean to tell me that as soon as a collection agency comes around threatening suit because a venue owner invites local bands to play their music......

Because people lie ,, and ASCAP cannot put a full time employee into the bar , to constantly monitor the bands that play there.

As well the original band material , may not be that original , and their original songs may just be ripping off chuck berry et al.

I am a musician , I see guys all the time try to pawn as new and original stuff songs that are just complete riff-offs of other artists ,, either by intend or accident.

Either way , if you rip off lyrics or melody in your “original rip-off song “, you have pay the “original-original artist” through ASCAP or whatever royalty facilitator they choose. It is the Law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: So given all this, you mean to tell me that as soon as a collection agency comes around threatening suit because a venue owner invites local bands to play their music......

“There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.” – Robert A. Heinlein, 1939

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Lease the land

Perhaps the Coffee shop could lease their land/forecourt to an ‘events management company’?

This company would then go bankrupt when it failed to pay the ‘protection money’ demanded by the Mafioso collection societies.

This way, the indie bands can sing cover songs, etc. so the thugs get even less money than otherwise.
Moreover, the Coffee shop still gets to sell coffee to the punters sitting nearby.

david_sp (profile) says:

This and the action against You Tube by Viacom

When you look at the actions of ASCAP and the lawsuit that Viacom has filed against You Tube (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100513/0000529405.shtml), it appears that the people in charge of enforcing copyrights don’t want to do their job. They want someone else to do it for them.

ASCAP and Viacom is going after the venues, rather than the people who actually violate their rights. If am a singer and I cover a song then shouldn’t I pay for the fees for the license? If I post Viacom’s material, should I be the one Viacom goes after?

That sounds like work…

xs (profile) says:

Re: lawsuit problem

actually that doesn’t help the small player either. With this system, although you won’t lose anything if you win, you lose twice as much, if not more if you lose. And the deep pocketed side could simply drag the case out indefinitely and keep on appealing to make you spend more money, bankrupting you before you can collect compensation.

Saul Hudson (profile) says:

Lawsuit problem

Don’t you guys in the US have any equivalent of our Musicians Union in the UK? Also in the UK if you win a lawsuit the other party has to pay all your costs, isn’t that the way it should be in a country like the USA that holds itself up as a beacon of democracy? Seems to me it’s all about vested interests and the money men rather than promoting live music? If you have enough money basically you can bully the other party into not defending their rights. Very sad ๐Ÿ™

Jim_Nance (profile) says:

Re: I don't get it

Pangolin asks: “This guy is in total compliance so why doesn’t he tell the ASCAP to shove off and keep doing what he’s doing. What power do they have?”

Well, when he explains the problem and presents the cease & desist letter to his attorney the lawyer will immediately ejaculate, “Hey, you don’t have to put up with that! Gimme ten thousand dollars and I’ll get started on this right away!”

In suits like this there are three interested parties and two will always win….

Christopher Gizzi (profile) says:

Protection Money

A man walks into a store. The man says to the owner of the store that he should pay money to prevent bad things from happening. The owner looks at the man and asks him what bad things? The owner goes on to say that he has a good security system and insurance – he doesn’t need an extra level of security and, therefore, doesn’t need to pay on the small chance that something would happen. The man says the protection he’d pay for is necessary even though the owner took real and auditable steps to prevent bad things from happening; he essentially doesn’t believe the owner has mitigated he risk satisfactorally.

The owner thinks about how to best deal with the situation, he can either pay the man and factor the cost of protection into his goods & services or close up shop. The owner doesn’t want to do either so he takes additional risk – the risk the man will become angry and threaten the owner and cause him harm. The owner must then defend his livelihood against this stranger that walked into his store.

In the end, the everyone but the man who walked into the store suffers because the owner either has to close shop (i.e. stop offering live, local music), pass the increase in costs to his customers, or defend against threats (a legal & financial loss/risk).

How is this any different than the mob walking into a deli and demanding protection money?

WammerJammer (profile) says:

It's simple

No one ever asks our band 3-Gen or venues to pay ASCAP because we are members. Duh all you have to do as a band / songwriter is pay the $35.00 and join ASCAP it’s good for ya. Then the owner of the venue can point it to the band. The band is a member. Let’s see that one fly. Stop the band that is a member of ASCAP from playing live. Sounds like a lawsuit if you are a member of ASCAP you can sue them for restricting your trade.
Songwriters need to protect their future and you are an amateur if you don’t belong to ASCAP or BMI.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: It's simple

No one ever asks our band 3-Gen or venues to pay ASCAP because we are members. [emphasis mine]

They don’t ask you, because you already paid.

They most certainly do ask the venues to pay them when you play. (By “ask,” I mean “threaten.”)

Like the majority of musicians, I am not a member of ASCAP or BMI, and do not play covers. Yet every time I play a venue, both those organizations get money, and none of it goes to me.

Please explain to me how that is fair.

Anonymous Coward says:

When conservatives scream about a false entitlement, they cover their eyes when the same entitlements enter their pockets.

When corporations can receive money for doing nothing at all, you have to wonder why anyone against entitlements would be so intellectually dishonest to support the thing they dislike.

Dave says:

that's exactly right

Again, Mike, you’ve hit the nail on the head. In my starving musician days, I did ASCAP investigating, as I’ve discussed here before, and their regional rep was a joke. Because they can’t win on the merits, i.e. finding that ASCAP songs are not played, they use falsehoods, threats, anything else they can think of. It’s simply self-preservation, just like those redundant bureaucrats in Greece going ballistic right now.

As you correctly state, it’s not as though they help the average musician, only ones at the top of the heap. Similarly, musician unions don’t help the average gigster, but only help the top acts – the lowest level musician they help would be something like symphony orchestra people, so there’s little point in joining for most players.

Jerry says:

What's so hard to understand?

ASCAP and BMI collect most of their revenue (by far) from radio and TV. Consequently, they pay out most of their royalties to those songwriters and music publishers whose songs are played on radio and TV. It’s a very fair system, though nobody claims it is perfect. These organizations don’t represent artists unless they’re songwriters, and they have nothing to do with the RIAA. A typical artist may or may not own the songs. Most songwriters represented by these organizations are behind-the-scenes, unknown people who only write music. BMI and ASCAP rarely lose lawsuits because they don’t sue if it can’t be proven the defendant is using copyrighted music illegally. It’s not rocket science or a great comspiracy, folks.

Jerry says:

Why's so hard to understand?

Has anybody determined or even asked if this coffee shop was playing CD’s or MP3’s when the live performances were not going on? In a copyright infringement suit, there’s no difference between live music and recorded music in the eyes of the Court. A typical coffee shop would pay only the minimum fees of these organizations, anyway, so there probably wasn’t much difference between the cost of playing live or recorded music in such a small venue. A coffee shop with absolutely no music of any kind is a pretty dead place to hang out. The bottom line is that if a business is using somebody else’s songs (recorded or live) to entertain customers, they’ve got to pay the owners of the compositions. That’s been the law for about 90 years, and it’s not changing anytime soon. It’s really a good system if you understand how it works and why.

Anonymous Coward says:

One day it may all change, but for now, it’s extortion.

Live acts: Original music should never be controlled by a 3rd party unless the originator passes their rights to a 3rd party.

Jukeboxes: Already covered, but all fees with jukeboxes are already figured into the price (assuming a rented and loaded jukebox). Interestingly enough, some of the venues I have played at informed me that after talking with ASCAP/BMI that their juke fees also covered live performaces. I.E. 1 fee for any performace of covered material.

Copyright: Someone tried to say earlier, but they were shot down by someone crying about something. Copyright does not apply to any performance, it applies to the performance of the copyrighted material (lyrics). While a true ‘composer’ might be eligible for compensation from a production studio or something in the case of a movie, generally speaking, copyright is for words, not music. If specific lines of music were protected, we’d run out of music real fast. Hell some bands never go beyond 4 chords in their entire multi-album history.

/puts on flame suit
-Random Idiot

byteme says:

Coffee Shop Owner: “I have never–not even once–allowed a band to play music in here that they didn’t write themselves.”

ASCAP Enforcer: “I’m sorry, sir, but our psychics have confirmed that one day you will. Pay up!”

Just like the cops in Minority Report, ASCAP believes it has the right to charge for something that hasn’t happened, yet. It’s like getting pulled over and getting a speeding ticket when you weren’t speeding…just because you might.

ASCAP should be honest, stop calling it a music fee and call it what it really is: a “Coffee Shop” fee…a fee charged for just being a coffee shop. If it’s okay for ASCAP to do this, why doesn’t the cable company charge non-customers because they might one day steal cable — or phone companies charge for long distance calls in advance, because you might suddenly decide to call Switzerland?

These ASCAP agents might as well just carry a gun and take everything from these establishments.

byteme says:

Re: Re: These ASCAP agents might as well just carry a gun and take everything from these establishments.Re:

It couldn’t be a lawful court order if it is at the behest of ASCAP, a private entity, which is insisting that the owner must pay a fee for a non-compulsory license that the owner is explicitly not going to use. It may very well be done under a court order, but it won’t be a lawful one.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: These ASCAP agents might as well just carry a gun and take everything from these establishments.Re:

“It may very well be done under a court order, but it won’t be a lawful one”

Explain please. That statement does not make sense to me.

A court order is Law in action –

– as I understand it , in my humble opinion, based on years of reading , studying , and a degree in Pol-sci ;;; and also $50,000 still due in student loans

byteme says:

Re: Re: Re:2 These ASCAP agents might as well just carry a gun and take everything from these establishments.Re:

What I meant was, if a judge issues a court order for an establishment to pay for an ASCAP license fee based upon ASCAPs assumption that someone might, at some point in the future play its members music, I would consider that an unlawful court order. It is not beyond the realm of possibility for a judge to mistakenly (or even willingly) make a decision or take an action that goes against established law.

Just because judges and the courts represent the law, doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. It is possible for a judge to break the law, just like everyone else.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 These ASCAP agents might as well just carry a gun and take everything from these establishments.Re:

What I meant was, if a judge issues a court order for an establishment to pay for an ASCAP license fee based upon ASCAPs assumption that someone might, at some point in the future play its members music, I would consider that an unlawful court order.

The problem is that the way the law is enforced is that these collection agencies have been given the right to collect from any venue playing any music. I believe that in most cases the rep goes to the venue, hears at least one song written by a member, and has the necessary evidence. But I don’t believe that has been needed in all cases.

I did a ton of research on the subject, because it doesn’t make sense to me that venues are considered guilty until they can prove that they aren’t playing any ASCAP/BMI/SESAC music, but so far I have only found one mention of a venue that was able to successfully win. The venue owner was able to show that the only music played in his venue was public domain folk songs.

Generally the argument is this: pay a reasonably-priced blanket license and then you’ll be free to play whatever music you want. But each collection agency makes the same argument, so venues often have to pay to all three.

I could try to pull all the documents I’ve found on the subject, but since I don’t think anyone on Techdirt is going to actually work on this project, I won’t bother.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I could try to pull all the documents I've found on the subject, but since I don't think anyone on Techdirt is going to actually work on this project, I won't bother.

I would love to read them !!

If you click around , starting with my profile , you can find out my email in a few clicks. (others here have, I even get flame now in my private email).

But yes please do sent me what you got !!!!!!
http://technopoliticalscience.blogspot.com/
(the blog is only an academic hobby , and takes no comments or ads, but with a few clicks you find my contact info.)

Jerry says:

Right of public performance

Under U.S. Copyright Law, the songwriter has exclusive right of public performance. That means he/she has the legal right to play the song, but nobody else does without his permission. No business is going to get sued if it has played only music written by the performer. What happens with many of these clubs/shops is that some of them have a documented history of allowing cover songs. When they are contacted by ASCAP/BMI, they change their music policy and say they’re “all original” going forward. ASCAP/BMI don’t accept that if they know the history. Most of the time, when ASCAP/BMI send a researcher into a business which claims “original” music, they find that copyrighted music is still being played illegally. I don’t know about ASCAP, but BMI doesn’t threaten business owners; BMI does, however, inform them when they’re submitted for legal action. It’s kinda like telling somebody they’re standing on the tracks when a train is coming. They have the right to stand there or do the smart thing and get off the tracks.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Right of public performance

nice post. thank you for taking the time. and as you see , “the other side” falls silent when faced with a good factual post. They (mostly) never admit being wrong – in my humble opinion.

But if I — or another reasonable poster — mis-types in “Tuesday” , in stead of “Wednesday” , I get flame back, and told I am an lying “troll” — even if my typing mistake is completely irrelevant to the point intended.

byteme says:

Re: Right of public performance

If an establishment is caught hosting a performace of ASCAP/BMI catalog music, then they should be required to pay up. That’s not the issue. The issue is when these licensing organizations take it upon themselves to charge for something that hasn’t happened, simply because it might.

In fact, why should they stop with establishments that offer live music. They should require any business that allows people to congregate on its property to pay for a license on the off-chance that someone in attendance might spontaneously break into song.

Then the only place they could go from there would be to simply tax every person on the face of the planet for potentially singing, hearing or even thinking of copyrighted music. That’s what they want, anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hilarious discussion on all sides. Chasing people for pennies only makes enemies (see Lars Ulrich). Betting people will gladly pay up/show up at shows is proven (see Radiohead, NIN, etc). Artists like me remember having been forced to pay a ‘piracy’ surcharge for recording media (tape, cd’s etc) even when doing original music- ho, that’s irony!

Jim_Nance (profile) says:

ASCAP goon squads

Imagine how very different the world would be if every 60’s garage band that played school dances resulted in lawyer threat letters.

Then imagine how the sales of Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, etc., guitars would have been if kids playing Hendrix were crushed by corporate sharks like Edgar Bronfman, Jr, who today extorts a reported 2 meg pr yr on the copyright for HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.
We need to ask ourselves if we really want to be policed to this extent-must we surrender to the likes of this robber baron and his army of slimy lawyers?

We know that record companies ripped off the artists on record sales and the artists need to make theirs in personal performances, which I support. TIME WARNER and Bronfman can just kiss my ass. Performing popular music is my cultural imperative and they have no valid prior claim to that. If not for me and others like me their product (CDs) would be worthless. If they push it they won’t make much after paying their lawyers in every successful lawsuit, especially against poor, judgment-proof defendants. And as juries wise up and people get fed up they’ll be left with an army of lawyers on retainer who sue their client once they get hungry….

Anonymous Coward says:

The one and only time I’ve been involved with ASCAP demanding a license, they agreed not to ask for any royalties for past performances (which almost certainly ocurred, but they probably had no proof of) if we agreed to get the appropriate license moving forward. Very reasonable.

On the other hand, the SESAC reps I dealt with were atrocious.

I think, in many cases, it’s the luck of the draw re: which particular rep you get and whether they are reasonable/competent.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Why don't you take up a collection?

I’ve read so many different posts on Techdirt about how this law or that law is bad. The ASCAP/BMI situation has not be won by a venue. Venues that play music have found it next to impossible to prove that they aren’t playing music by ASCAP/BMI members.

So if all of you are incensed about the situation, why don’t you set up a fund (crowdfunded of course) to take the matter to the courts?

How about you guys put your money where your mouths are. Since Techdirt believes good ideas/causes can find financial support among the people, use Techdirt as funding and legal solution, not just a bitch site.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Why don't you take up a collection?

In case there is any confusion, I’m not defending ASCAP/BMI. What I am saying is that having researched the situation myself, I found out that the burden of proof has been put on the venues to convincingly show they aren’t playing music written by members of ASCAP/BMI. As far as I can tell, only one venue owner has been able to do this (the only music played in his club was one performer singing traditional, public domain folk songs).

So I doubt that the situation is going to change unless the laws are rewritten or someone wins a court case. I don’t see either of those situations happening unless some person or organization pays for the necessary legal or lobbying expenses. So if this is something that you feel passionately about, think in terms of putting together a legal fund.

Shelley Cater says:

My ASCAP experience

I used to manage a little coffeehouse in Eugene, OR. One day, a lady who had been sitting in the corner came up to the counter and announced that she was an ASCAP representative, and that she had noticed that we had been playing ASCAP music over the stereo. She gave me a license agreement with a fee of $325 for the year. (Our business license cost $175.) I asked to be sent a copy of The List (all artists covered by ASCAP), and mailed them a bill for $325 per annum for promoting their artists. I told them I refused to play any of their artists until they paid their bill. Our shop went to only playing local and unsigned bands. Local musicians were generous with free CDs. We never heard from ASCAP again. (Oh, and another thing I learned was that if you ask the room if their is an ASCAP rep present, they are required by law to identify themselves.)

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: My ASCAP experience

Well done Shelly!

This reminds me of an idea I had for a copyleft jukebox some time ago. This would play only unsigned/license-exempt music, but would still accept coins, which would ultimately be disbursed by the proprietor to the respective musicians, i.e. to encourage those musicians their customers most played to produce more music – and thus build up customers. A win-win outcome.

It really is crazy when the natural liberty of playing music must be charged for on threat of legal penalty. An effective tax on cultural liberty is certainly lucrative to those that collect it, but this doesn’t make it ethical.

Let’s make it easier for music lovers to pay musicians to make music, and far more difficult for ‘collection societies’ to get rich via extortion using anachronistic 18th century privileges.

Tyson Sevier says:

ASCAP is legalized extortion

I run a bar/restaurant in Omaha, NE and we are really struggling right now. We had an idea to bring in Kareoke to help bring in the crowds but fear lawsuit from ASCAP who came in to collect on us the 3rd day we were open.

They don’t want the kareoke DJ paying the fees because they want to collect from all the bars that have that DJ perform.

So here we have examples of small businesses being damanged by this organization.

Anonymous Coward says:

same thing just happened to us, we have a small and very new bar/grill, just opened 2 months ago. ASCAP came in yesterday, contract for $1200+in hand and mafia style threatened us with law suits for singing happy birthday to customers! we dont have the money to pay these guys, we dont even get a paycheck ourselves. Like you said, now the local guys wont be able to play here so everyone is screwed, Hope all the “stars” in their f-ing mansions are happy, Thanks Big Shots, now no one has anywhere to hang out

burninguitfiddle says:

Art

No matter what debate we have here, it still comes down to the most important thing: How this music got out there in the first place. Sure a lot of major artists had a dad who knew a powerful label exec or music attorney the walked their kid right into the business, however there are many that had to do it the hard way. No matter how good an artist’s original songs are, in order to get the uninitiated involved you have to entice them with a bit of the familiar. To those who justify what ASCAP and their ilk are doing, you have to keep in mind that many of the artists you have grown to love started out in small venues and did not have these agencies twisting the venues’ arms-which in turn guaranteed them a place to perform. These artists ultimately did much better than the venues they started out in, so when you say the venue made a profit from having them play-hey why not? It is give and take-and really should not involve these agencies until the artist themselves want to be involved. Really, no matter how you slice it, ASCAP, BMI and others still are stifling the very thing that defines their existence anyway. If it wasn’t for free music performances, there would be no money in music. Sounds ridiculous, but it is the absolute truth. Somebody hears ‘Stairway’ on the guitar, probably played wrong in some coffee shop somewhere, but likes the melody. They hear the original version and become hooked. Who knows how much money they happily spent in my lifetime on their entire Zeppelin collection, shows, shirts, posters, books etc. It was all from a public performance by some hack who learned it in his bedroom. Whether he was in a venue that sold a lot of coffee that night, or he made $100, it would still not match the amount the newly-converted fan funneled into that band, which made it to their label, and anybody else that was involved with them. Technology moved so fast that none of the industry was ready for it. They’re doing what they can to monetize it, but are alienating the very people that create, re-create and listen to it-and keep it alive. The only real thing that cannot be duplicated truly is a live performance-either by the original artist or a good cover band. The band that plays the venue has the right to charge or not charge for their hard work, and unless the middle man is the bassist, has no right to collect on something they were not asked to be involved in. Ultimately, when the dust settles, it will come from the artist, and not off the venues who have been extorted for these overpriced fees. Artists can play a free show on the corner until the cops tell them to shut it down, their basement or wherever. There is no precedent to be set here. Only a quick buck up front, with long term consequences on the back end.

Kevin says:

Public Performance License

If ASCAP, BMI & SESAC were doing their jobs correctly, every songwriter and publisher would be paid according to every incidence of a public performance of their product. Instead, those royalty collection agencies quite often make no attempt to survey what music is being played to determine who should actually receive a royalty. For example, if I own a business and draw from my personal collection for on-hold or ambient music, ASCAP, BMI & SESAC will demand that I pay fees to them so that they can ostensibly reward the composers of the music I have selected. But they can only reward the right people if they survey my playlist, which they will make no attempt to do. This is what makes their practice akin to extortion. I have no problem with songwriters earning their due, but under ASCAP methods that oftentimes never happens. There should be a law allowing licensing exemptions to venues that are not surveyed by the royalty collection agencies. This would motivate those agencies to devise better methods of determining who the rightful royalty recipients should be. After all, does playing Montovani to pay Elton John seem fair to anyone out there?

Rena Davonne (profile) says:

ASCAP threatening us to pay or stop

So I own a small coffee house in Sacramento with a small stage including a piano. Having been a musician myself, who played only small venues, I wanted to support the local music scene and have only original music played here. We wanted to be a place where our customers could come and know that they are hearing original fresh new sounds and for the musicians to know that they are supported and people want to hear their creations. In comes ASCAP, threatening, sending emails and contracts, harassing until we are in tears and in fear, and now face having to rip out our stage or pay the piper for tunes we aren’t playing. We also have art on our walls and I wonder, are we going to have to start paying museums for works that are original, but inspired by the masters? Where does it end, do I have to close my beloved shine or face a lawsuit? Where do bands and artists have to play when every place is watched by ASCAP and the likes, just waiting to pounce to make sure they get their money for nothing, and forcing closure of some and dead air cafes with no music? How do we fight their lies – make them prove their claims – keep our doors open and a place for up and comers to play? How is this happening to my beloved shine when all we wanted was to have a place for people to come and enjoy original creations by local talent wanting to share with others?

vadim says:

live performance royalties, as well

Jerry, May 21st, 2010 @ 8:55am
Under U.S. Copyright Law, the songwriter has exclusive right of public performance. That means he/she has the legal right to play the song, but nobody else does without his permission. No business is going to get sued if it has played only music written by the performer.

Sorry, Jerry but this isn’t true. There is also such thing as “live performance royalties”, where any member of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC can file with that organization to get a royalty for playing THEIR OWN ORIGINAL MUSIC. If the venue they played it at doesn’t pay the license fees, the venue gets in trouble. That’s irrespective of what they get paid as their performance fee (whether a guarantee or a door deal based on draw). I didn’t know about this until a harrassing SESAC agent (they are the worst) told me this. So for example, a SESAC band that just played my venue to 190 people and got paid over $1000 could technically file to get paid even more from SESAC (which is basically getting paid twice for doing the same job). Luckily, that particular band agreed not to file for such royalties. But apparently a verbal agreement not to, might not be enough – I may have to get it writing in the future. Remember to look into this loophole if you host professional acts – ask them in advance which of three they belong to, and get a signed waiver from them promising not to file live performance royalties. This is something few people know about.

PokeBone (profile) says:

It's simple

It doesn’t even come close to being that easy. From the ASCAP website itself:

Aren’t musicians, entertainers and DJ’s responsible for obtaining permission for music they perform?

Some people mistakenly assume that musicians and entertainers must obtain licenses to perform copyrighted music or that businesses where music is performed can shift their responsibility to musicians or entertainers. The law says all who participate in, or are responsible for, performances of music are legally responsible. Since it is the business owner who obtains the ultimate benefit from the performance, it is the business owner who obtains the license. Music license fees are one of the many costs of doing business.

Let me know how you make out on the law suit with ASCAP. ๐Ÿ™‚

Eamon Collier (user link) says:

Ascap

Sitting here in the bar owned by my father reading up on this subject since we have discontinued performance here all together because of phone calls and recent legal activity by these so called publishing companies. I have also been a performing musician for about 16 years. Played originals and I have played covers. It seems to me that if we performers deem it necessary to include cover songs in our sets, we should pay the fee not the venue owner. Charging because an artist may play acover is extortion

Troy Lindsey (user link) says:

pay for spins

I came across this article looking for alternate options. I own a venue that has an open mic and used to have live music. I am a singer/songwriter with 4 albums out. I got started by playing cover songs at open mic. That lead me to actually having the courage to write my own music. Then lead me to actually writing and album. This article hit home for me on two different levels. One as an artist who enjoys playing cover songs and two as a venue owner. I also have hosted a singer songwriter competition for 3 years running. It has given back to up and coming artist to help them. I am all for paying for what is rightfully owed by someone. In fact I would have no problem sending the Johnny Cash trust a check for all the time I have played Folsom Prison. And the pleasure it has brought me playing such an awesome song. But for me to send that money to a lawyer who sits in a office in Nashville. And he can’t even tell me where that money goes is wrong. I was just phoned by ascap the other day and literally yelled at. I put it on speaker phone so my 15 year old daughter could listen to the insanity. Even she could not believe how rude and wrong the whole thing sounded. I thought for many hours about this afterwords looking for some solution in my mind on how to make it right. The only thing I could think was paying for individual spins. I believe this is how the radio does it as well. When I asked ascap how do they get the money back to the particular artist they said they don’t. They can only do that by radio that has reported spins. This frustrated me even more because I want to pay the writers of the songs not a lawyer. This is an extremely flawed system that is so mafia style run that its sickening!! I want to host music at my venue and will be doing it. But we had to move the music to the common area that is not leased by me. It’s a public area for all to enjoy. And then the bar can’t afford to pay the artist. So I have chose to pay them out of my own pocket as a cash donation in there tip jar. And I’m sure that this still holds me liable in some way for paying these criminals. It’s just sad because I really want to provide artist with a place to play music and have fun. So how is it these copyright protection companies are protecting the artist again? I guess I’m really confused because the whole thing just feels wrong. There time could be better spent protecting artist from all the crooked promoters and managers that have robbed artist blind over the years.

Troy Lindsey (user link) says:

Why

the problem is when I asked ascap directly. how do i know the money is going to the artist when a cover song was played in my venue. They told it’s not they are only played by radio spins!! They couldn’t tell me where the money goes. So that means its a flawed reporting system. I want to pay artist just like me but im not interested in paying a laywer who is getting rich off my work by screwing over small venues!! So I challenge you to find out where that money goes and I will glady send what owed to the owner of the song!

Ray DeTone (user link) says:

ASCAP -PROs etc

I’m a composer and musician . I make my living at these professions.
There is something called Copyright Law and Statutory License.
I joined ASCAP to collect the money that is owed me for doing my job based on these laws that protect my intellectual property.
Like any other professional I can’t continue to do my job if I’m not paid.
If you use an artists music to enhance your business , by law , you must compensate that artist. ASCAP & BMI are both non-profit collection agencies an artist gives permission to , to collect, after the fact, money already due. Kinda like a restaurant owner , gives a waiter permission to collect money after you have already eaten your meal.

Please don’t propagate fiction as fact !

Johnny_music (profile) says:

ASCAP

I’m with Ray de tone on this. I have just released my first album and wish every day I could make a living doing what I love but yet bars feel it’s ok to generate a profit by playing music from artist that don’t ever see any royalties. The blanket license does not only cover live band performances of cover songs but also house music basically enticing customers to go to their business by using music from other artist not just local bands. Being a songwriter and seeing the membership side of these industries and having my BA in Music Industry I know that they take care of the local songwriters every day they are trying to make it happen for the songwriter not for some huge artist that is singing their songs but the guy that doesn’t make crap for his hard work because bar owners who think they are entitled to the songwriters music. I’m all for free music to the public in general but when someone decides to use it as a tool to generate profit whether it be Karaoke, Cover Songs, Bars playing music, Pandora making a profit from the commercials or coffee shops making a profit from the music they play after the bands are done and they need something to lighten the mood and keep the ambience alive so that customers want to stay and purchase more music, it all needs to be accounted for because it’s not right to take from the little guys. Yeah call them racketeers call them extortionists they’re still a non-profit organization and they’re still going to fight and bat for the songwriters rights while all the bar/coffee shop owners, and radio stations fight to continue to use the artist music for free to fill their greedy bellies.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop ยป