Connecticut Town Tells ASCAP, BMI, SESAC To Get Lost Over Royalty Bills

from the get-lost! dept

Three years ago, the town of New Milford, Connecticut got a bill from ASCAP demanding $280 in licensing fees, because the local town center sometimes will have music playing. Even at that amount, the mayor felt it was ridiculous, since it was a municipality playing music for non-profit community purposes. So the town council voted to ignore the bill, tabling it "indefinitely." As far as I know nothing else has happened between ASCAP and New Milford, but reader Bill Waggoner recently alerted us to the news that BMI and SESAC -- the other two collection societies in the US -- sent bills to New Milford as well. BMI's was a whopping $3,000. SESAC's was $1,500.

After being asked about it, BMI realized that it had made a "mistake" in calculating the bill, and lowered it to $305 (funny that they don't make mistakes in the other direction, do they?). However, the town council has told them to go take a hike. "They're not going to get that either" was the quote from council member Roger Szendy. The town's mayor, Patricia Murphy, says she's standing up for the principle of the whole thing, claiming that it's silly that a municipality should have to pay. BMI apparently says it's not going to sue, but it hopes that the city will "do the right thing."

I'm guessing that BMI (and ASCAP) realize it would be a public relations nightmare to sue a municipality, but if other cities start taking similar principled stands, you have to wonder if they'd reconsider.

Side Note: As regular readers know, it's our common practice to link to our source for information on stories. In this case, however, our main source is The News Times. I had the story about this open in my browser for a few days before getting around to writing it up. Then I discovered that The News Times locks up its content after a few days. So... I can no longer actually get to the article or send any traffic to the newspaper site. Perhaps I don't quite get the economics of news publishing, but I would imagine ad traffic from a bunch of our readers visiting their site would greatly outweigh the expected value of people actually paying $3 to read the article (yes, that's what they want). Oh well. I guess it's just their loss.

Filed Under: collections societies, connecticut, new milford
Companies: ascap, bmi, sesac


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  1. icon
    josh (profile), 25 Jun 2009 @ 12:09pm

    Re: HA!

    Actually this was the funniest thing in that article:

    "BMI and ASCAP represent about 97 percent of all U.S. songwriters and composers who write music for today's recording artists. SESAC represents the rest."

    According to this reporter 100% of the songwriters and composers who write music belong to one of these associations. That is such a blatent lie it's funny. For example one of my co-workers, an IT professional by trade, is a musician/songwriter in his off time. One of his greatest accomplishments was getting a song, he wrote, into a movie. He was so proud of the fact that when we were discussing the music industry the other day he made sure to tell me that when his song is listed in the credits...There is no ASCAP or BMI next to his name.

    The best part of this...Even though he doesn't have one of those associations to "get his fair share" for him...The contract he was able to do himself, alows him to still recieve residuals from that song. Now it's not a lot, but it's still something.

    It's just amazing how much these associations will blatently lie to get their point across.

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