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How one venue feels about paying their licensing fees...


roamingbard13

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I bet they do. ASCAP sends around goons with iron pipe, if the bar owners don't pay, they get their knees broken.

In Canada, we have SOCAN, same deal. Bars pay, period, unless they have NO music in the venue, including radio or bought CDs. Even if they are playing all-original music performed by the composers, doesn't matter, SOCAN gets their share or you suddenly find yourself thrown off a pier wearing concrete overshoes. I've met the local SOCAN rep, he explained that they charge even for original work because maybe one of the songs from the original guys was influenced by something he heard on the radio (see "My Sweet Lord" lawsuit).

Did you know that you are supposed to pay licensing fees if you have the radio on at work? In Scotland a couple of years ago, their version of ASCAP broke some legs in a grocery store because one of the clerks, Sandra Burt, liked to sing while she was stocking shelves! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/s...al/8317952.stm

Fortunately, that idiocy made enough waves that in England they recently revised their licensing requirements so that small venues under 200 people that play unamplified music now do not need to pay -- which is good, because it was killing open mics at coffee houses. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...nse-free.shtml

Ever wonder why restaurants make up birthday songs nowadays? To avoid paying royalties to the descendants of the sisters who wrote "Happy Birthday" in the 1920s.

They've even asked Girl Guide camps for royalties, because they like to sing around camp fires. Luckily, that was mostly stopped, also due to media backlash -- http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/project...ons/ASCAP.html

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I remember a coffee shop in Orange Park, FL that explicitly told its performers that no published songs or covers of any kind were allowed in his shop because he hadn't paid ASCAP and didn't want to. The battle made the paper, and the venue ultimately went under. I think that had more to do with bad management than the ASCAP fight, though. I think ASCAP wanted him to pay $500 for the year or something, if I recall correctly.

To be honest, I often wonder how much of the fees they collect actually go to artists (what percentage), but I think it's amusing how people treat it like a mafia protection money shakedown or something. The fact is, we don't have the legal right to publicly broadcast music or perform songs that we don't own or haven't licensed. That's the way the laws work in this country. Bars pay these fees in part so we cover band folks can do our jobs. So personally, I like seeing those stickers on the front door of the venue, because it means the bar owner isn't cheating the people who wrote the songs and recorded the music that we're covering or hearing on the jukebox (or from the DJ, or in some horrid karaoke version).

Brian V.

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Quote Originally Posted by MusicalSchizo

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I remember a coffee shop in Orange Park, FL that explicitly told its performers that no published songs or covers of any kind were allowed in his shop because he hadn't paid ASCAP and didn't want to. The battle made the paper, and the venue ultimately went under. ......

 

No covers, eh? All originals only? The performers probably had requests for Mustang Sally or Sweet Home Alabama and couldn't play them, people stopped going there, and the place closed! A great case for playing covers?
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Quote Originally Posted by New Trail

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No covers, eh? All originals only? The performers probably had requests for Mustang Sally or Sweet Home Alabama and couldn't play them, people stopped going there, and the place closed! A great case for playing covers?

 

It was a TINY shop, so I'm guessing anyone who was sitting around wasn't asking for stuff like that. Probably more like Bob Dylan covers or something. smile.gif
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It starts feeling like a shakedown when songs than entered the culture 50 years ago are no longer performable by school-aged children. It feels even more of a shakedown when the SOCAN rep tells you, "we don't care if you wrote all the songs, the bar has to pay anyhow, because we'll sue them if they don't".

Copyright is a two-edged sword. There is nothing wrong with short-term copyrights (20, even 30 years). But I think it's wrong to shake down a grocery store because a clerk likes to sing, or to and try make Girl Guides pay for singing around a campfire. It's wrong to be forbidden to sing Happy Birthday in a restaurant. It's wrong that Men At Work got f----ed over "Land Down Under" -- they deserved to make that money! It's also wrong to seize an 8 year old's computer because she tried to download copyrighted content, and it's total BS that kids may not tape songs off the radio.

If we don't figure out a better way to reward artists than the current status quo, then we *will* continue to do long-term damage to the culture.

Can you imagine a world where you can't practice The Well-Tempered Clavier because JS Bach's descendents want a royalty which is larger than what you can afford? That future is not far off for our descendents. If things keep up as they, 400 years from now, it will be illegal to doodle a picture of Mickey Mouse in your chem notebook.

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Quote Originally Posted by wesg View Post
It starts feeling like a shakedown when songs than entered the culture 50 years ago are no longer performable by school-aged children. It feels even more of a shakedown when the SOCAN rep tells you, "we don't care if you wrote all the songs, the bar has to pay anyhow, because we'll sue them if they don't".
I don't understand how this is the law, or are you saying, they extort the bars by mere threat of a meritless suit? If that's the case, the bar just has to nut up.
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A while back, we played a venue in Birmingham, AL, which had a sign that stated something to the effect of "Only (whichever organization that I can't remember)-licensed music will be played at this establishment." Guess they picked the one they wanted, (cheapest, maybe?) and dissed all the rest.

jamieb
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The "no covers" thing is totally bogus. As long as copyrighted songs are played, the venue needs a license. It makes no difference if the copyright is owned by the band that's playing.

Now of course if the bar were to put together a contract with the band that they waived their own copyright fees for their performance, that might hold water. But that would involve there actually being a contract...

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Quote Originally Posted by wesg View Post
I bet they do. ASCAP sends around goons with iron pipe, if the bar owners don't pay, they get their knees broken.

In Canada, we have SOCAN, same deal. Bars pay, period, unless they have NO music in the venue, including radio or bought CDs. Even if they are playing all-original music performed by the composers, doesn't matter, SOCAN gets their share or you suddenly find yourself thrown off a pier wearing concrete overshoes. I've met the local SOCAN rep, he explained that they charge even for original work because maybe one of the songs from the original guys was influenced by something he heard on the radio (see "My Sweet Lord" lawsuit).

Did you know that you are supposed to pay licensing fees if you have the radio on at work? In Scotland a couple of years ago, their version of ASCAP broke some legs in a grocery store because one of the clerks, Sandra Burt, liked to sing while she was stocking shelves! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/s...al/8317952.stm

Fortunately, that idiocy made enough waves that in England they recently revised their licensing requirements so that small venues under 200 people that play unamplified music now do not need to pay -- which is good, because it was killing open mics at coffee houses. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/201...nse-free.shtml

Ever wonder why restaurants make up birthday songs nowadays? To avoid paying royalties to the descendants of the sisters who wrote "Happy Birthday" in the 1920s.

They've even asked Girl Guide camps for royalties, because they like to sing around camp fires. Luckily, that was mostly stopped, also due to media backlash -- http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/project...ons/ASCAP.html
Not sure if serious...
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Quote Originally Posted by MusicalSchizo View Post
it means the bar owner isn't cheating the people who wrote the songs and recorded the music that we're covering or hearing on the jukebox (or from the DJ, or in some horrid karaoke version).

Brian V.
As opposed to the golden age of radio when everybody just listened to it?

Not seeing the logic here...unless it's due to lack of commercials?
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Quote Originally Posted by babalugats85 View Post
I don't understand how this is the law, or are you saying, they extort the bars by mere threat of a meritless suit? If that's the case, the bar just has to nut up.
Yeah, it's the threat of a lawsuit. It happened to a local coffee shop a few years ago, too..

http://www.viewnews.com/2010/VIEW-Ma.../35878176.html
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Quote Originally Posted by Iamthesky View Post
The "no covers" thing is totally bogus. As long as copyrighted songs are played, the venue needs a license. It makes no difference if the copyright is owned by the band that's playing.

Now of course if the bar were to put together a contract with the band that they waived their own copyright fees for their performance, that might hold water. But that would involve there actually being a contract...
I'll have to disagree here. These shops in question were having local young artists (either chronologically young or green in the biz) play their own music. the venue was not charging a cover, so it was a chance for someone to play for exposure (which we all know really sucks, but is part of the game) and the 'No Covers' thing is a way that the shop can make sure they aren't violating any standing copyrights.

In other words, the venue was already taking steps to not possibly cost anyone their hard-earned royalties.. So it is ridiculous that the organizations should do anything other than audit/inspect the venue - and then start sending letters and bills if/when there is a real violation.

Bands don't get copyright fees for performances, they get paid for the performance. Contracts would ensure payment, but often there is no expectation of payment for this type of performance, since it is a great way to get exposure. I've never had to contract for a coffee shop gig. If I ever did, I'd wonder what was up...
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Quote Originally Posted by Iamthesky View Post
The "no covers" thing is totally bogus. As long as copyrighted songs are played, the venue needs a license. It makes no difference if the copyright is owned by the band that's playing.

Now of course if the bar were to put together a contract with the band that they waived their own copyright fees for their performance, that might hold water. But that would involve there actually being a contract...
I can see where it would be bogus if the songs were actually copyrighted and songwriters were signed up with BMI and the other groups. But I think most of venues trying to limit performance to originals only are dealing with local singer songwriters that haven't risen to the level of copywriting their work yet.

The groups are now starting to crack down on Churchs that have live music whether in their services or local concert series and the like. There are two groups who specialize in collecting for all the modern christian rock artists and even the owners of the more modern music in hymnals are getting into the act. Used to be that the hymnal printing company would pay the royalties, but with the advent of projecting lyrics in many churchs hymnal use and sales are way down so they are going after the projection as being the same as printing music. Our church has been hit up to start paying and it is impacting whether or not we will continue to put on our concert series which are run as non profit. (for the church that is)

I vonlunteered running sound at the center camp stage two years ago at Burningman and they were operating under an originals only performance clause. Of course there's no shortage of very original material to work with there..... But I did have to cut a couple of performers off on obscure covers that people recognized. The organization was very serious about adhereing to the no covers rule as BMI and the others had come after them that year wanting them to pay for all the sound camps that have DJs and other music happening both live and canned. Rumor was they wanted $600,000 for the week to cover the multiple venues with 50,000 people in attendance. I'm sure the amount's wrong, but not the fact that they are trying to get them to pay.

It's all getting a little out of hand. I'm all for figuring out how to pay an artist for their creation, but our current system seems to mostly just reward the organizations collecting the money. Much like many of the charities out there that spend the bulk of their donated money on salaries and overhead while only the scraps make it down to those in need....
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As opposed to the golden age of radio when everybody just listened to it?


Not seeing the logic here...unless it's due to lack of commercials?

 

 

Radio pays for the rights to play songs and maintains agreements with the record labels, publishers, and songwriters (which includes reporting airplay to PROs like BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC). Try to have a radio station and ignore the licensing of the music and see how long that lasts...

 

Venues pay ASCAP, etc, so they can legally use their members' music in their venue.

 

As for "no covers" being bogus (from some other post), if the song is not registered with one of these organizations or written by one of its members, it's fine to perform anywhere with the author's permission. ASCAP et al have no power over these songs and no reason to advocate for them. I have written over 300 songs in my life. None of them are registered with any of these organizations (though many are legally copyrighted with the US government) and my songs are fine to perform anywhere because I'm not a member of ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. These organizations exist to protect their MEMBERS, not all songs.

 

Brian V.

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Well I'm thankful that we don't have that crap here in the east ... yet. But the music scene here is so crappy that it probably isn't worth it to them. They could probably make a fortune off bands doing Skynyrd covers though.

 

 

I can pretty much guarantee you that crap is well-established in your specific area, and operating as planned heavily in the East.

 

You may not have personally encountered it, but BMI and ASCAP are in all sorts of venues/establishments in your neck of the woods for sure.

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It would be interesting to see the reaction of the ASCAP or BMI rep if the venue owner asked that the licensing agreement include a provision that the PRO enitity would defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the licensed venue from a claim of infringement for a work assigned to the PRO....

 

Just a twisted thought; it wouldn't really happen. But it would be fun to ask anyway. Mark C.

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