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Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:59 AM

Open mic nights at bar lead to lawsuit from BMI over music, ask for $121,000

Pittsburgh-area bars facing lawsuits by Mick Jagger, Lady Gaga, Sting, other rock stars

It's a high-stakes fight over the right to play -- and the obligation to pay -- for music.

WTAE’s investigation found the music industry is stepping up its legal attacks against bars that fail to pay licensing fees. Those fees cost bars thousands of dollars per year for the right to have live music.

....

“I was just floored,” said Henry Robbins, owner of the Boot Scoot'n Saloon in West Newton.

He was a target of those stars and others, all because of a handful of songs played by local amateur musicians at an open mic night.

“Truthfully they weren't very good and people were anxious for them to leave so they could play the jukebox again,” Robbins said.
...

“They were looking for $121,000 from us,” Robbins said. “I thought that was outrageous, totally . That's why I had to fight it.”

http://www.wtae.com/news/local/investigations/Pittsburgh-area-bars-facing-lawsuits-by-Mick-Jagger-Lady-Gaga-Sting-other-rock-stars/-/12023024/18430584/-/aegkc/-/index.html#ixzz2KVZl52Tm

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Reply Open mic nights at bar lead to lawsuit from BMI over music, ask for $121,000 (Original post)
The Straight Story Feb 2013 OP
randr Feb 2013 #1
Uben Feb 2013 #2
Logical Feb 2013 #12
Walk away Feb 2013 #126
defacto7 Feb 2013 #133
Walk away Feb 2013 #171
defacto7 Feb 2013 #174
Walk away Feb 2013 #176
defacto7 Feb 2013 #182
RKP5637 Feb 2013 #3
mainer Feb 2013 #4
Junkdrawer Feb 2013 #5
RC Feb 2013 #6
ThoughtCriminal Feb 2013 #8
Walk away Feb 2013 #128
defacto7 Feb 2013 #135
Walk away Feb 2013 #172
JDPriestly Feb 2013 #154
Walk away Feb 2013 #169
JDPriestly Feb 2013 #180
RC Feb 2013 #157
2ndAmForComputers Feb 2013 #158
muriel_volestrangler Feb 2013 #7
Junkdrawer Feb 2013 #9
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #94
tblue37 Feb 2013 #80
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #91
defacto7 Feb 2013 #130
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #10
Logical Feb 2013 #11
Cleita Feb 2013 #14
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #18
Cleita Feb 2013 #20
Exultant Democracy Feb 2013 #81
Logical Feb 2013 #19
Cleita Feb 2013 #22
Logical Feb 2013 #36
The Straight Story Feb 2013 #39
Cleita Feb 2013 #40
Logical Feb 2013 #44
Cleita Feb 2013 #48
Logical Feb 2013 #53
Cleita Feb 2013 #59
Logical Feb 2013 #85
Egalitarian Thug Feb 2013 #57
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #49
Cleita Feb 2013 #50
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #66
Cleita Feb 2013 #71
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #73
Cleita Feb 2013 #74
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #142
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #113
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #117
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #164
EnviroBat Feb 2013 #165
barbtries Feb 2013 #102
JDPriestly Feb 2013 #155
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #167
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #16
KittyWampus Feb 2013 #23
Cleita Feb 2013 #27
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #31
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #60
2ndAmForComputers Feb 2013 #159
graham4anything Feb 2013 #29
Cleita Feb 2013 #35
graham4anything Feb 2013 #51
Cleita Feb 2013 #54
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #58
graham4anything Feb 2013 #62
Cleita Feb 2013 #67
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #106
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #61
graham4anything Feb 2013 #78
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #84
graham4anything Feb 2013 #86
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #88
graham4anything Feb 2013 #97
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #122
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #166
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #70
Robb Feb 2013 #99
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #100
dmallind Feb 2013 #173
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #183
Cleita Feb 2013 #13
Initech Feb 2013 #28
Cleita Feb 2013 #30
MadHound Feb 2013 #15
Cleita Feb 2013 #17
KittyWampus Feb 2013 #21
Cleita Feb 2013 #25
Initech Feb 2013 #24
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #26
Cleita Feb 2013 #32
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #41
Cleita Feb 2013 #47
Ian David Feb 2013 #38
Apophis Feb 2013 #46
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #52
Apophis Feb 2013 #75
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #83
spanone Feb 2013 #33
Cleita Feb 2013 #37
Apophis Feb 2013 #43
spanone Feb 2013 #55
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #112
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #56
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #63
wtmusic Feb 2013 #69
defacto7 Feb 2013 #137
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #144
wtmusic Feb 2013 #150
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #152
wtmusic Feb 2013 #156
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #175
2ndAmForComputers Feb 2013 #160
MADem Feb 2013 #34
xmas74 Feb 2013 #64
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #82
MADem Feb 2013 #87
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #89
MADem Feb 2013 #90
Ed Suspicious Feb 2013 #129
Apophis Feb 2013 #42
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #45
dsc Feb 2013 #65
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #68
wtmusic Feb 2013 #72
Fumesucker Feb 2013 #76
dsc Feb 2013 #79
Fumesucker Feb 2013 #92
dsc Feb 2013 #96
Fumesucker Feb 2013 #98
dsc Feb 2013 #111
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #119
dsc Feb 2013 #120
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #132
dsc Feb 2013 #134
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #149
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #148
Buzz Clik Feb 2013 #77
defacto7 Feb 2013 #138
Snarkoleptic Feb 2013 #93
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #95
polly7 Feb 2013 #101
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #103
polly7 Feb 2013 #105
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #108
polly7 Feb 2013 #109
Lint Head Feb 2013 #104
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #107
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #115
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #116
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #118
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #121
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #124
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #127
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #131
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #136
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #139
GReedDiamond Feb 2013 #141
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #145
2ndAmForComputers Feb 2013 #163
Walk away Feb 2013 #177
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #178
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #110
Zorra Feb 2013 #125
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #114
defacto7 Feb 2013 #140
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #151
Tom Ripley Feb 2013 #123
Zambero Feb 2013 #146
Zambero Feb 2013 #143
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #147
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #153
2ndAmForComputers Feb 2013 #161
2ndAmForComputers Feb 2013 #162
SwissTony Feb 2013 #168
SomethingFishy Feb 2013 #170
riqster Feb 2013 #179
HiPointDem Feb 2013 #181

Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:02 AM

1. BMI should be paying singers to promote songs

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:27 AM

2. So, can we sue BMI for releasing shitty music?

They wouldn't have a dime left! And how much did they sue the republican party for for using their music? Oh? They didn't? Hmm? Does BMI stand for "big mother****ing idiots"? I'd say so.

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Response to Uben (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:01 PM

12. So there is NO song in the BMI catalog that you like. Wow, amazing. n-t

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Response to Uben (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:16 AM

126. You do understand that BMI is a copyright agency and it does not "release" songs.

It copyrights half of the published music in the world here in the US. How do you expect people who write music to live without being paid???? Do you think artist should just give their art away???

Anyone who plays music in a retail venue has to pay a licensing fee to BMI and ASCAP or writers don't make any money for their music.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #126)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:13 AM

133. Oh please....

"How do you expect people who write music to live without being paid???? Do you think artist should just give their art away??? "



You mean like it's been done for thousands of years? Those poor, poor musicians can't make their quota million this year. How are they going to live?

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #133)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:00 PM

171. First of all, not all composers are performers. They may only make money from their creations.

And copyright fees are the only payments a song writer gets. Only a real jerk would take the position that an artist doesn't deserve to be payed for his work. How many song writers do you actually believe make millions of dollars? How many reggae, jazz and folk musicians would you like to screw out of a living so that some bar owner can scam out of licensing fees???

Maybe you should tell your employer not to pay you anymore. Apparently, you don't believe in pay for work.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #171)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:09 PM

174. You certainly are passionate about your position.

To make long story short, I believe in compensation, I just don't believe in corporations and lawyers taking advantage of every angle of every business, squeezing every drop of blood from where ever the money could possibly lite and have no artistic inclination or personal investment whatsoever. It's just the "find where the money is" game and it's ruining America, the arts, human creativity.. you name it.

It's a problem bigger than you.

Not that it really matters, but I was an international musician and recording artist for years. I also made seven marketed recordings, two of which were my own creations. I know the way it works and it's a problem bigger than me as well.

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #174)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:27 PM

176. And I object to people using other people's property to make money in a ...

for profit business and not pay them for it. Possibly you don't make your living on your music. Anyone can make a recording these days. But people deserve to be paid if they create something and it is used in a money making enterprise. Maybe this bar should not play or use any copyrighted music. If you can afford to do this work for free then I suggest you donate the proceeds to charity.

Companies like BMI, ASCAP, PRS etc sign contracts with their song writers. They are living up to their contracts by collecting licensing fees.

What I don't get is... this money isn't going to a bunch of lawyers. It's going to song writers and their publishing companies. This is how they get paid. If people paid their fees you don't need lawyers to sue them.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #176)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:40 PM

182. You have some good points.

It does go to lawyers though. They are the ones who make up these contracts and advise the corporations. Their aim is to make a buck on song writers just as much as the corporations themselves.

If you are making your living selling your music I don't blame you for wanting to make your living out of it. You have to follow your instincts and needs. If it is necessary for survival and pursuit of happiness, then you have to do what you have to do. My point is that these corporations know this is the case for many and take advantage of it. They also know they can make a lot of money on the art of the ultra successful by pushing the small business owner into paying exorbitant fees that sometimes represents an unreasonable percentage of their income. And sometimes they push fees where there isn't even evidence of use, with threat of a lawsuit.

You said, "Maybe this bar should not play or use any copyrighted music." On the small scale, it's advertising for the artist and the music, not the other way around. I think the bar should be paid actually. The small time musician may at times play copyrighted songs but it's a tiny pleasure, a tiny human artistic expression that is destroyed by business threats to bar owners and others for the benefit of those who wield financial power, not to you or me the writers, artists or performers. No wonder the 99%ers are pissed at the incongruous nature of humanity.

If you have to play that game, OK. I choose not to. I'm an idealist I guess, not a pragmatist.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:30 AM

3. Yet more BMI bullshit! n/t

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:43 AM

4. Yep. Even amateurs get hit with these lawsuits.

They used to have some pretty nice folk music jam sessions in Bangor -- then they were hit with threats of lawsuits, even though 99 % of the music being played was traditional tunes a hundred years old.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:45 AM

5. In the late 70s, I worked at at Pizza Shop/Bar in Pgh. I was there the day....

the BMI guy came in.

It really is a shakedown operation. The guy looked over the place and threw out a number.

The owner said "We only book live acts that play their own material."

BMI guy said "We have spies EVERYWHERE. If you don't pay and anyone turns on a radio, one of my guys will report back and we'll sue for 100x what we're asking. And we ALWAYS win."

Owner tried to balk, but later just paid up.

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Response to Junkdrawer (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 11:14 AM

6. Someone needs to go after BMI for racketeering.

 

For that is what they do. But instead of busting your knee caps, they bust your bank account and your business.

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Response to RC (Reply #6)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 11:20 AM

8. I suspect BMI pays protection money too

some outfit called "Congress" get their piece of the action.

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Response to RC (Reply #6)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:22 AM

128. You do realize that BMI is a not for profit company that represents song writers rights.

If you want to play music in a place that make money you have to pay. It isn't a profit making enterprise and without them many folk and jazz artists wouldn't see a penny for their life's work.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #128)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:15 AM

135. SEE post 133

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #135)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:02 PM

172. See post #169

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Response to Walk away (Reply #128)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:25 AM

154. I picture Mozart presenting an opera in a theater, amateur musicians singing it

for their friends in their homes and then Mozart's business manager suing the musicians. Do you think we would be listening to much Mozart today if his live audiences had been so restricted in singing his tunes without paying royalties?

I have great sympathy for the musicians who write the music, but they need to have some sympathy for their fans who want to play and sing it.

How popular do you think well known songs like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or "Moon River" or "Take Five" or "Summertime" or "The Man I Love" or "Evita" or "Yesterday," and on and on would be if they were not performed in public places including bars by live musicians who did not write them.

True, composers deserve to make a little money from their compositions. But also true that performers deserve to make a little money when they sing or perform in small venues.

BMI means well, but, in the long run, it could well kill the business of performing its artists' music in clubs. I think it has more to lose from its fanatical enforcement of its copyrights than it can gain.

Jazz would not exist if the original composers of songs enforced their copyrights against the performers. It's a concept gone wild in my opinion. I understand why they want to sue for what they think are their losses, but it isn't a good idea.

Performers will just hold private parties, collect donations in the form of tips, and BMI won't know about it.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #154)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:53 PM

169. Composers deserve to make "a little" money for their life's work????

Jazz would not exist with enforced copyrights????? How do you expect composers to exist??? On air? Maybe they should dig ditches for a living and write songs for free.

Maybe it wouldn't seem like a "concept gone wild" if it was your music people were stealing.

And, by the way, many performers also write their songs and would like to get paid for the writing side of their business. Not everyone make millions in the music business. The money from BMI and ASCAP make it possible for song writers to continue to practice their trade. The work belongs to them. How would you like it if I stole your paycheck???? I mean....everyone should benefit from your work...right???

If you are making money off of a venue then you should pay your licensing fees. You didn't make the music you are playing.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #169)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:11 PM

180. I think that suing bar owners for presenting a composer's music played by amateur

musicians is extreme.

Composers make money when records are sold and when their music is played in a large venue by professionals. They shouldn't scour the countryside looking to take a cut from the hours and hours of work that amateurs do to finally get a chance to play in a small club.

And then I think of music teachers. (I was one once.) Should a music teacher pay the composers of the music their students play at recitals and in school functions? Puuhleeze.

This is absurd. Music is to share.

A lot of composers of modern music are lucky to get someone to play their music at all. Much of it won't stand the test of time. It is trash. And that includes some of the most popular music.

I think that composers have more to gain from having their songs heard and interpreted than from squeezing amateurs for a share of what they earn for the bar that lets them play their music.

I have a feeling that the best composers are not even heard of today thanks to businesses and managers that pick and choose based on what will sell to teenagers and not based on much else.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #128)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:36 AM

157. The artists only see pennies on the dollar.

 

It may not be a profit making enterprise, but they seem to have a lot of money to harass people.
Why is happy Birthday still copyrighted?

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Response to Walk away (Reply #128)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:06 AM

158. Do you think the behavior described in post 5 is OK?

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Response to Junkdrawer (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 11:19 AM

7. It does seem like a shakedown

As people say, karaoke or open mic nights are as much an advert for music as the bar benefiting from it. It seems a way to kill music, in the long run.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #7)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 11:27 AM

9. Less and less and less venues for young musicians....

Which I guess is a plus for the established acts that BMI represents.

Twofer....

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #7)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:15 PM

94. not to mention that with karaoke, money has already been paid, both by the company that made

 

the music discs and the person who purchased the discs.

but now you're expected to pay, in addition to that, a fee *EACH TIME YOU PLAY THE MUSIC YOU ALREADY BOUGHT*.

same thing applies to cafes who buy CDs for background music. they must now pay TO PLAY THE CD'S THEY SUPPOSEDLY 'OWN'.

The capitalists want to tax us for every action we do that involves their products. which is most actions.

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Response to Junkdrawer (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:24 PM

80. Protection racket. Pay protection money or they bust up your business. nt

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Response to tblue37 (Reply #80)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:04 PM

91. Thats exactly what it is.

The fees charged bars and resturants are astronomical. Friends of mine own a small pub, that has live music 3 nights a week. The designated capacity is 85...lord knows where that figure comes from because theres barely room for 50. The stage area takes up about 20% of the customer section of the interior. Anyway, they pay about $5000/ yr to ASCAP, about $2000/ yr to BMI, and about $1000/yr to SESAC. Thats 8 freaking grand a year...more than the bands make, more than the owners make (they're breaking even at best). Its an economic model thats collapsing. The licensing companies are killing the goose laying their golden eggs.

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Response to Junkdrawer (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:07 AM

130. That IS racketeering.

n/t

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:53 PM

10. I have a music publishing company...

...which is affiliated with Broadcast Music Inc - BMI.

When I release new music, I enter each song title into the BMI registry, and BMI potentially pays royalties based on a variety of scenarios where it may be played - such as terrestrial radio and/or internet airplay, other artists' use of the work, as well as live music venues which allow artists to perform covers of others' works registered to the BMI database. Other Performance Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP and SESAC, provide the same types of services to their affiliated songwriters and publishing companies.

BMI and the others provide a necessary service for indie artists such as myself if we have any hope of bringing our work to a national or global market, and have some protections on our work, in the process.

While I certainly do not condone "shakedowns" or "racketeering" by PROs, I have performed live, mostly in California, doing mostly original music (we've been known to throw in a cover or two on occasion), in venues which include cover and tribute bands, since 1978. I've only rarely heard - maybe twice - of a club being harassed by BMI or any other PRO. However, a successful club/venue should be able to afford the legitimate fees associated with allowing the use of PRO registered works of music as a part of generating their revenue and, hopefully, some profit.

Also, do not confuse BMI/PROs with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), they have different agendas. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the way RIAA goes after individuals over "illegal downloading" aka file sharing, and the truth is, the Big Corporate Record Labels were about twenty years too late in seeing the direction in which music would be stored and distributed, as they clung to their traditional system of "hard copy" music distribution until it had to pried out of their almost dead hands.

That's my 2 cents.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 12:59 PM

11. People want free stuff, even on the DU. It amazes me that people think BMI should not....

charge a fee for music that brings in Guests and makes the bar money. And that fee gets distributed to artists.

Many people on the DU think copying a MP3 or CD and giving to a friend is 100% ok.

People basically want to steal. Get stuff for free. And music is easy to steal without getting caught.

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Response to Logical (Reply #11)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:13 PM

14. You know the juke box isn't free. You have to pay.

However, it seems that those artists make oodles of money from record sales, concerts and radio. I think once they have been paid for those venues, if some struggling band wants to sing their songs in a saloon, it should be a line that isn't crossed.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #14)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:28 PM

18. Most artists who are not on the level of Beyonce, Justin Bieber or...

...The Rolling Stones make little from record sales, they make most of their income from touring and merchandising. They may also generate income from licensing and publishing deals, for tv/movie soundtracks, commercials, and the like.

"Saloons" which offer licensed music as a draw to make revenue and profits should be able to afford the standard licensing fees if they are being properly run and managed.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #18)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:20 PM

20. Really, on the radio, the TV and the Juke Box, which most saloon owners don't own but

lease from another company who also pay the license? How about the starving musician who plays for tips or some compensation from the owners in order to get access to a stage and equipment. Should they be penalized because they played a song written half a century ago? No this licensing thing is making the record companies rich not the musician. How can they determine the number of times a musician's song is played in any one place of business? It's a scam at that level, IMHO.

btw. My boss got a satellite dish and promoted an all sports venue. Monday night football parties, dart, pool and air hockey tournaments, all kinds of sports on the TV all the time. There was never any music in the place again other than what they played during the games. Those beginning musicians that got a start in his place had no place to go but out in the streets because of this.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #18)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:27 PM

81. Most artist are never covered during open mic night, mostly A list artist hits.

In regards to this thread the handful of artist they are suing to defend are all at the Beyonce Bieber level so your argument strikes me as just a little misplaced.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #14)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:16 PM

19. Why should someone get to play their music with no compensation? No different than someone using....

my photo or my graphic art.

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Response to Logical (Reply #19)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:22 PM

22. Because if someone uses your photo or graphic art in a book or a magazine you get paid for it.

When someone buys the book or magazine you get paid for it. The person in the doctors office going through the magazine doesn't have to pay for it and by that time after it's been filtered through all those levels of payment shouldn't have to.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #22)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:55 PM

36. The band is being played to play the music. They play popular music. Thus they are making money....

off the talents of the person who wrote the music.

Hell they can sing all their original songs they want, and pay no one.

Wow, liberals sometimes hurt themselves with the logic you are using.

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Response to Logical (Reply #36)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:01 PM

39. Then shouldn't the band pay instead of the bar? (nt)

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Response to Logical (Reply #36)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:01 PM

40. Logical. Sometimes you show a pretty big lack of it and this is one of these times.

When I buy music, I pay the writer, the artist and everyone else involved. When I go to the gym or to a bar and there is music on in the background, I am subjected often to music I don't want to listen to. Why am I paying for this? I know it's included in the price of the stuff I do want. Also, the artists and all involved have already been paid, and once it reaches this street level where everyone is subjected to it whether they want to listen or not, it's time to stop paying.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #40)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:07 PM

44. LOL, you call your rambling 'logic'? I am subjects to billboard I don't want to see...

but the damn graphic artist still got paid. Same with TV commercials.

Look up the word 'royalties' and see how many different items it applies to.

Hell, why should an artist be paid ONCE and then it becomes public domain? You feel the same way about books? Once it has been out a while anyone should be able to publish it again for free?

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

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Response to Logical (Reply #44)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:15 PM

48. You know what's legal is not always moral. So try again.

I do feel the same way about books. Otherwise we wouldn't have libraries. Once the book is paid for, it doesn't matter how many people read it until it falls apart. That goes for the graphic art on the cover too. What if you had to pay for it every time you looked at it? If you are a reporter for a newspaper? Do you think you are going to be paid over and over again when people pick up your story and send it to friends? When a restaurant get's a write up in a newspaper or mag and they put it up in the foyer for everyone to see. Should every customer who wants to read it have to pay?

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Response to Cleita (Reply #48)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:31 PM

53. And some libraries LEND CDs which is fine. But you want a band to be able to play someones...

music, live, and the person who wrote it gets nothing.

You can buy used CDs also. Go for it. And paintings on the wall are free to look at. But you want someone to be able to paint the same picture and them SELL it. Wow, Brilliant!

And your newspaper article example is maybe the silliest thing I have ever read.

Done with you, your knowledge of how commerce works amazes me.

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Response to Logical (Reply #53)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:38 PM

59. Buh bye.

I've been done arguing with laissez fair capitalists like you. I do know how commerce works and as a socialist I don't like how it works.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #59)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:32 PM

85. That explains a lot. You should have led with that and saved us both a lot of time. n-t

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Response to Cleita (Reply #48)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:36 PM

57. That's exactly what they want, Cleita. Their greed has blinded them to the inevitable end of

 

this course. This is the model they want to impose on the world, write once, collect forever, and all under the control of three corporations. What they don't see is that it will kill the source.

Back when Napster was new, there was a record executive that made this observation, (paraphrasing due to imperfect memory) "This attack on Napster is the stupidest thing I've ever seen this industry do, we had 70,000 people in the same place at the same time wanting the same thing, and instead of embracing and leveraging this opportunity, we've made them enemies, fragmented the audience, and forced it underground. This is going to kill our industry and we deserve it."

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Response to Cleita (Reply #40)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:22 PM

49. I am sorry, but you have no clue...

...as to how artists are paid for their original music. You have demonstrated that repeatedly throughout this thread.

When a new CD of original music, particularly by an independent artist such as myself, is published, the artist DOES NOT automatically get paid some crazy amount of money by simply registering their compositions with a Performing Rights Organization such as BMI, releasing their CD and setting up a digital download store on Amazon and iTunes.

The artist must promote the shit outta their music, play live, and look for other revenue stream opportunities such as licensing to video games, movies and tv, in order to even hope to make anything back on what's been invested in creating the finished recordings.

I have tens of thousands of dollars into acoustic and electronic drums and percussion instruments, recording equipment and supplies, rental on rehearsal spaces, etc, so, just as I must pay dearly to compose, arrange, play and record our original music, so should venues that use our and other artists' work.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #49)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:26 PM

50. When it comes to BMI or MCI I do know, and you know from the content of your post

that you aren't getting a whole lot out of it. This is why I don't understand why you are defending their practices. I'm not against organizations that protect artists, it's just that those organizations are parasites who keep most of the money they shake down retail businesses for. Sure they cut you a check now and then to keep you quiet but the lions share isn't going to the artist.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #50)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:56 PM

66. Yes, I receive royalty payments from BMI...

...and the amount of those checks is proportional to my penetration of the Global Music Market, it seems to me. Yeah, if I was Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga, I'd get significantly larger checks, I realize that.

I defend BMI because I have a catalog of music I have published over the last 30+ years, registered through BMI, so I rely on them to keep track of stuff it would otherwise be impossible for me to do on my own.

The anecdotal accounts of obviously out of line shakedowns over music in the Public Domain is not what BMI is about, or does, to my knowledge. A link to a verifiable account of such racketeering would be helpful. The link in the OP led to a story about venues unwilling to pay what amounts to standard, reasonable fees to BMI for legitimate music licensing, not to dubious accounts of literal shakedowns of clubs, and even musicians, for performing music in the Public Domain.

What would you have me do if I did not have BMI, or ASCAP, or any of the other PROs, to protect my own music from exploitation by greedy bar owners or others who don't want to pay a measly $7.12 a day to provide quality entertainment as a draw to their venue?

I asked this question in an earlier post of mine, and nobody has offered a viable option to a PRO.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #66)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:04 PM

71. The fact is they can't keep track of it at that street level, so they are keeping most of the

money they are making and the artists are not getting it. Once it gets past stuff you can count like CDs sold and plays on the radio, there is no way to keep track so it's just extortion IMHO.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #71)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:10 PM

73. So, I'd be better off withdrawing my catalog...

...from the BMI registry, and just hope for the best?

I have yet to see a reasonable alternative suggested to me in place of my affiliation with BMI.

Gotta go out now for a while.

Maybe by the time I get back, somebody will point me to a reasonable alternative to BMI.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #73)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:13 PM

74. I don't know what you should do as like with everything in this corporate

run country, the big guys own everything and take most of the profits. However, you should be aware of what they are doing and how they skim money legally from other businesses who don't really have a direct input in the music industry.

The thing is that people who are being extorted will find another way to make money like my boss did and I think shutting music out of a public place that has already been paid for several times over, does not help the artists at all. My boss went on to do fine with his sports venue. I never heard from the musicians again, except one band who got other jobs and met in basement once a week to practice. They never got another gig.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #73)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:55 AM

142. is your catalog played by bar bands in 50-seat venues? or sung on open mic nights by joe schmoe

 

with his out-of-tune guitar at the local coffeeshop?

because that's who they're shaking down.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #49)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:14 AM

113. ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music,

 

Inc.) often called the “Coke and Pepsi” of performing rights organizations, will both tell you it is irrational not to join one of their organizations. They collect the bulk of all the performance royalties in the US, and will assure you that you cannot get your share unless you are a member.
ASCAP, BMI or SESAC?

In their pitch they will make it sound as if your music is already out there earning money and the PRO is just holding it for you, like a bank, waiting for your application. But the truth is that unless you write a hit song, or a soundtrack for a TV show like The Simpsons you are unlikely to see any significant royalties, even if you are a member.

In fact, it’s entirely possible that after you commit to a PRO, your song(s) could be earning money for them, but the PRO is paying you nothing in return. (See Part III about the pooling system for more on that...)

http://www.mosesavalon.com/why-you-should-wait-to-join-ascap-bmi-sesac/

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #113)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:44 AM

117. I know, but I HAVE received royalties through BMI...

...so, please direct me to an alternative PRO for re-registering my catalog of music which I have had with BMI since 1982.

One that will track it and pay me at least something, like what I get now, if not more than that.

Or, should I withdraw my catalog from BMI and just wing it?

In any case, owning the copyrights and publishing, as I do, also gives me the ability to do whatever I want with my titles, so the revenue from BMI is not necessarily the only thing going on.

Also, thanks for the link to the guy selling a book with his advice on the music biz.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #113)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 10:37 AM

164. Exactly!

The royalties go the the songwriters who have music played on commercial radio, because very little sampling is done for college or community radio, and none at venues. I never hear Lady Gaga or Justin Beiber covered at an open mic. Its usually Leonard Cohen, Ani DiFranco or other such artists. The licensing fees the bar pays goes towards the big stars (after ASCAP takes their 95%), not to the songwriters whose songs are ACTUALLY BEING COVERED! How fair is that?

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #49)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 10:51 AM

165. I know that pain all too well.

I've been a lead guitarist for an all original band now for the last ten years. The money we have invested to put out our "product" is astounding. When I think back on all of the money we have spent on tours, recording engineers, studio time, and equipment, we are in the red. Never been able to quit my day-job, that's for sure. You're either in it because you love music, or crazy...

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Response to Logical (Reply #36)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 07:57 PM

102. not on open mic night

all they get is exposure.

i think you meant paid not played?

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Response to Logical (Reply #36)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:33 AM

155. So, those of us who can sit down a play a tune we have heard. Should we play royalties

too?

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Response to Logical (Reply #36)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:31 PM

167. But the royalties don't go to the writer of the song being covered.

No sampling is done at bars and resturants. BMI/ASCAP has no idea whose song was played. They just send a check to Beyonce, after taking their 95% cut. The usual place I hang out, there are no covers of pop music...yet the money they pay in licensing fees (about $8000/yr) goes to writers of pop music. How is that fair?

And a band can't play their original music...not if they have registered it, and the venue hasn't paid a licensing fee. Which is why I've been urging local songwriters to register with US Copyright office...so they can play their music whereever they want.

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Response to Logical (Reply #11)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:21 PM

16. Yes, and the mostly lip-service paid to non-corporate, indie music...

...artists here at DU is a reflection of that attitude, IMO. One of the worst marketing decisions I made was to run a banner ad here at DU, I had virtually zero response from DUers.

In any case, we often make our music available for free, just to promote it.

Unfortunately, I'm in no position to buy ads in Billboard Magazine, or actual billboards on Sunset Blvd hyping our latest release, so it's no-or-low budget options, including CD giveaways. I once advertised on Mike Malloy's radio show, and gave the first 150 people to join our mailing list a fee CD.

These days, social networking is the most affordable way to promote.

I hope to get the band out of the studio and into some clubs around L.A. in the near future, that's always the best way to move actual CDs, in my experience.

In the meantime, our digital downloads are available all over the internet tubes, at iTunes, Amazon, ReverbNation, CDBaby, CDUniverse, Spotify, RadioAirplay, etc.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:25 PM

23. what's the name of your band. I'll look for your stuff. If you don't want to post it please

message me. Thanks

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:35 PM

27. Most people don't come to DU for the music so I can understand why your ad didn't get a

response. Also, since most of us who have stars can block the ads, we don't see them. I write some, but I don't put it up on DU. I go to a writer's website to put up my writing and get feedback. You probably need to find a more music friendly place.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #27)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:45 PM

31. Yes, I agree completely with what you say here...

...I just thought I'd give advertising on DU a try, because it would at least help to support the site, so it was not a total loss.

I was also aware that Star members would not see the ads, as I have generally been a Star member myself up until fairly recently.

And yes, we are represented all over the internet on various sites, where we're streamed, or for downloading mp3s, buying the CD, etc.

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Response to Logical (Reply #11)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:40 PM

60. amateurs performing popular songs in taverns have never been subject to fees from song-publishing

 

industries. and contrary to your assertion, they don't get a cut of the operator's take.

nor does the operator make anything like what bmi is asking for from an open mike night.

it's a power grab.

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Response to Logical (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:07 AM

159. Do you think the behavior described in post 5 is OK?

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:42 PM

29. +1

 

Why is it that singers/writers/authors/moviestars should work for free?

Will everyone that complains do 5 days a week of whatever they do for free?

I never understand this.

If not for BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc. artists would have nothing.
BTW, most groups don't write their own songs, and the songwriter itself is unknown, and does not sell out Madison Square Garden or do TV shows.

The only money they have is from their songwriting, which, is not as easy as it looks.

Ask most 1950s, 1960s singers, especially those that wrote and sung the R&B hits.

Yet they call singers/ songwriters/ actors greedy.

BTW, restaurants can't legally sing Happy Birthday without paying for it.
When you go to a chain and they sing some different song, that normally is why.

And, btw, does the bars/restaurants that make a fortune on those open mic nights, do they give their booze and food away for free?

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #29)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:51 PM

35. I'm not against musicians being paid, only when they keep getting paid over and over

for the same music. By the time it ends up on the radio or in the saloon, they have made their money. Also restaurants often do give comps to customers because they are good customers or maybe won an open mic night. Remember too all those people that keep the restaurant running, the help. Don't they deserve a better wage? Or, should that money just trickle up to Paul McCartney and Madonna?

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Response to Cleita (Reply #35)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:27 PM

51. It's not about Madonna & the Stones. It's about the .99999% who you never heard of.

 

As an example- go into any country bar, and someone will sing
"Friends in low places" or The Dance.

Now, you may think that Garth Brooks is mega rich.
Might be true or not true

But guess what, he didn't write either of them, and the songwriters
(Tony Arata wrote Dance, and Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Bud Lee wrote "friends in low places") and I bet no one has ever heard of any of those three.

The only income they have is their songs.
They do not get a salary, they have no benefits that they didn't self-make.
They have bills like all of us.

And the very, very ironic part of this is, for a democratic board?

BMI and SESAC and ASCAP are like the unions
and the songwriters are the union members.

(and its the big names that are like the Ed Asner's and Martin Sheen's that fight for union rights.)

And if Paul mcCartney wanted to give his music away, he could.
And before putting them down, maybe one should look into how much they do or don't give.
Madonna has given millions and millions in time and money to AIDS.

Irving Berlin wrote God Bless America- and 100% of God Bless America goes to charity.
Anyone stealing it, is taking money out of a child's hand, so to say.

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #51)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:32 PM

54. So how does making a rural bar pay a license for nothing in exchange help those musicians?

They don't. Speaking of unions, you need real unions not scams set up to make the stock holders rich.

That income doesn't really go always to the musician, writer or others involved. Only a small part. I knew people who were insiders and they admit it's mostly a scam to make money for the executives like health insurance is for the for profit health care industry.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #54)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:37 PM

58. Exactly.

Its nothing but an extortion racket. Bars, resturants, local musicians simply don't have the financial resources to fight the system.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #54)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:45 PM

62. Nothing in exchange? They make $$$ selling food and drinks at their place

 

The open bar is bringing in people who spend money.

If not, then they don't need to have the music.

I am sure people can converse or whatever people do at bars these days.
If those people would come in anyhow, then they don't need it.

If they get more people, and more drinks/food sold, then they do need it.

No one would hassle them if they just paid what is required.

BTW, does the owner of this place work for free? That is what you are asking songwriters to do. Work for free.

It would be a sad place if there was no more music in the world because songwriters all went broke.

Most artists and songwriters are broke. A big bunch that made it are robbed from.

and, if you are talking unions, maybe this establishment should be unionized, and the people that work there paid.
And the loading docks for the food and drinks should only have organized labor involved in the transaction, including the Teamsters and truck drivers.

How much money does the owner of this establishment pay the help?
ANd being that he/she thinks the things should be free,

Why not have free beer 7 days a week.
After all, if the music should be free, so would the beer.
Bet the crowd would be larger.
IMHO

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #62)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:58 PM

67. The idea of owning a bar is to make money, but it's a Main Street type of operation,

not Wall Street, usually run by a family. However, you don't have to promote music to make money. When we had music in the place I worked, the musicians passed the hat cuz frankly a lot of them were amateurish, needed polish and they played a niche genre, Celtic music. Some times they drove out business, but my boss liked to give them a chance to perform. He usually didn't pay them because to do that you had to charge at the door and without name recognition for a start up band, no one was going to do that. Some of the bands played their own music they wrote themselves or they play old stand bys that probably date back to the Renaissance. This is what the music "protectors" claimed were copyrighted. Really? Most of the bards from times past were long dead and no one knew who originally had written them to begin with.

So if you can book name talent, you charge at the door and increase the prices of your product. You pay the groups part of the door actually most of it. In that case I would say yes, pay your license, but not what we were doing, nor what other mom and pop places are doing for open mic. That's just extortion.

btw about the free beer. That's what happy hours are about. You charge only what it costs you. Believe me the beer distributors don't give it to you free, but the retailer is basically giving it away for free. But happy hour is a good will gesture on the part of the owner and a way to get people to come into your place for the first time. If they like it they will come back even when it isn't happy hour.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #67)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:25 PM

106. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if they play songs in public domain.

The licensing companies allow registering an arrangement of a song. ASCAP has a hundred different arrangements of Happy Birthday registered for example. Then they go to the bar owner and say someone sang Happy Birthday on Nov 9th, 2012; prove it wasn't an arrangement we have registered or we'll sue you. So even many public domain songs cannot be safely played.

The only guaranteed method I have seen to work...permit only original songs that have been copyrighted through US Copyright office. Keep a setlist of each of these songs played. A recording might be even better. Then you have proof no song was played registered with BMI, ASCAP, whomever. And the US Cpyright office will give legal help allowing you to play your original songs registered through them when and whereever you want.

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #51)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:43 PM

61. so funny. the musicians don't get but a fraction of the price. it's mostly overhead to the money

 

men.

and the money men are the ones pushing this crap, not the musicians.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #61)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:18 PM

78. as an example-Do you give away your services for free in whatever job you do or have done?

 

BMI=union.
ASCAP=union.
SESAC=union.

A songwriter living in a different place, can't afford to go to every place that plays music and demand their money from their goods they are selling.

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #78)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:32 PM

84. the majority of song royalties go to the moneymen, not the writers. and it's the moneymen pushing

 

this crap.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #84)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:39 PM

86. Whatever.

 

I would not frequent an establishment that doesn't pay royalties.

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #86)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:52 PM

88. wouldn't want the moneymen not to get their vig.

 

It turns out that you cannot play any type of music over a speaker system, nor can you have musicians cover other artists works without paying a hefty fee to ASCAP.

I have 3 major disagreements with this group. First of all I ALREADY paid for the CD's, therefore giving the studios who published this music the opportunity to pay the prospective artist's their royalty from my purchase. Why should I in turn have to pay an exorbitant fee to play this music over a speaker on MY OWN PROPERTY. I would understand if the music was why I was making my money(i.e. a radio station, a dance club, a bar charging a cover) but it is there purely for background music enjoyment. Lawyers for ASCAP in these cases will state "irreparable damages" or "injury" to the artist. Can someone please explain to me the "irreparable damage" done to the musician other than possibly advertising their music for them for FREE in an establishment that doesn't have to do so in the first place.

Secondly, musicians that come in to my shop and play a majority of original songs sometimes want to play a cover tune in the middle of their set. According to ASCAP, if a musician plays even ONE song that is not their own, the business is liable to over $400 that year as a fee to ASCAP. As a musician myself, I feel that if someone likes my music enough to learn it and play it in a public setting, I should be honored that they would give me free advertising, as long as they state who the original author is.

Thirdly, if a musician who has been signed with a label affiliated with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC(the three big organizations who claim complete ownership of your copyrighted material), and they decide to play their own music at my coffee shop, ASCAP can legally sue me for not paying their royalty fee, even though the artist chose to play their own music.

In learning the complete ownership that ASCAP has over almost every single song written in America since 1914, I have had to put away an enormous array of great music that I would otherwise be playing. I have also had to shut down most of the artists who play here because they might be covering material that is not their own, even though they give credit to the original artist. The only thing I am barely allowed to do is play the radio because I'm under a specific square footage.

http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/cellar/220186-music-mafia-dedicated-ascap-bmi.html



The BMI-ASCAP-SOCAN 'Mafia'

After receiving a strongly worded letter from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Performers (ASCAP), the owner of a small Waquoit cafe gave the band that performs there for free once a month a difficult choice: meet requested annual $332 fee or he’d have to cancel their gig.

"They could sue even if was playing its own songs. They could sue me for people singing 'Happy Birthday' at the restaurant," said the cafe owner, who did not want to be identified for fear that the two other performing rights organizations in the United States—Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) and the Society of European Authors and Composers (SESAC)—would also send him a contract.

"Unfortunately, what they're doing is stopping a lot of music in small venues like mine. The end result: music is being sliced out, and it's not a good thing for our culture," said the cafe owner...

http://www.iocapecod.com/music/the_bmiascapsocan_mafia



Now, how do they find out about music being performed in small venues like this?

Can you say "spies" boys and girls?


f you're sitting there thinking that ASCAP or BMI is doing the music community well, what they're REALLY doing is marginalizing the majority of us in favor of paying off the few. It really is like saying you're with the 1% while at the same time you ain't in that "club".

Two Points:

1. Most members of ASCAP/BMI do not see royalty checks at all. What we DO see are same organizations leaning on our venues whether they play originals or covers.

2. The effect of the fees: Venues either shut down, or the cost is passed on to performing musicians, ie, reduced wage, no wage at all, or pay to play.

Bonus Point: It is highly doubtful any of the fees being extorted from venues are being shared with other artists since it's not something that can be tracked like a purchase or a radio play. It's more likely ASCAP/BMI are lining their own pockets over these tactics.

How exactly are they supporting YOU, or ME?

They're not.

http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/cellar/220186-music-mafia-dedicated-ascap-bmi.html



How Big Music Companies Are Stealing Hundreds Of Millions In Royalties From Artists


It's no secret that various major labels and big music organizations have a history of not paying artists what they're owed under the law. We've covered plenty of examples of fancy "accounting" to avoid having to pay, such that even big stars claim they never see royalties. However, Jeff Price, over at Tunecore has uncovered what may be an even bigger scam on the publishing/songwriting side of the business, creating a giant shell game, wherein major labels are getting hundreds of millions in royalties that are owed to songwriters, but are never paid...

No one can follow exactly what is going on due to the complexity, lack of transparency and audit trail, and time delays. In the process songwriters’ royalties are either being taken from them or not paid to them in the first place.

It’s one hell of a global copyright shell game that funnels songwriter money into the pockets of everyone but the songwriter.


http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120305/04332117978/how-big-music-companies-are-stealing-hundreds-millions-royalties-artists.shtml



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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #88)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:29 PM

97. I myself have asked at places if royalties are paid. And made a call. Because fair is fair.

 

If a songwriter gets 11 cents on the dollar, stealing his/her 11 cents means 11 cents less.

The rest is irrelevant.

I bet the same person in that blog (who seems to have an agenda) would hate Harry Chapin, because he only worked 85% of the time for charity.

Imagine working the other 15% of the time for his family and band.

BTW, why post links to those blogs? After all, they don't need the publicity, they work for free, right? They give theirs away, right?

ah, but that doesn't count, right?

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #97)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:58 AM

122. yeah, the music mafia even tried to extort the girl scout songbook. because, you know, the

 

poor songwriter who wrote 'be kind to your scouting friends' is sleeping in an alley somewhere for lack of royalties.

The money men get the lions share of everything collected. not the songwriters. most musicians registered with bmi/ascap get -- zip.

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #78)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 10:53 AM

166. What union keeps 95% of the revenue generated by its members,

and then distribute most of the remaining 5% to the top 1% of its members? No union membership would put up with that crap, yet its the system we have.

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Response to graham4anything (Reply #51)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:04 PM

70. Very good points, thanks...nt.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:35 PM

99. I was on a first-name basis with around 20 live-music club owners in SF in the 1990s.

BMI/ASCAP harassment came up frequently. Every one of them thought of it as a shake-down. And it went down just like the pizza place story above.

That's my 2 cents.

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Response to Robb (Reply #99)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 07:48 PM

100. OK. So, as I've requested before...

...in previous posts, as a composer, performer and publisher of original music, what other means of protecting my financial interests in my work should I be utilizing instead of BMI or some other performing rights organization? Copyrights are but one aspect of protection, because without PROs, those copyrights would likely be useless.

BTW, while I'm more familiar with the Los Angeles music scene/clubs and other venues, I have played in San Francisco from time to time over the years.

I have very little sympathy for clubs who feel they should be able to use other people's work without licensing it. Additionally, it's not completely unheard of for these clubs to generally treat bands/performers like shit, especially those just starting out, so, again, I have a hard time feeling their pain.

Another request I made was to provide some kind of reputable source which shows that BMI and other PROs are using "shakedown" tactics on behalf of the artists they represent. So far, only anecdotal evidence of such tactics has been presented, unless I missed it somewhere. Otherwise, in reference to the article linked-to in the OP, one of the club operators was assessed a fee which amounted to $7.12 per day, in order to properly and ethically use other people's work as a draw to bring in customers. If that is unaffordable, that is a strong indication that the management is either disingenuous about the financial impact of those fees, or incompetent at running their business. Possibly both.

Anyway, no hard feelings, that's just the way it is, and we likely disagree no matter what either of us have to say, so I'll leave it at that.

ON EDIT: Thanks to whoever for the heart, if you happen to see this post, I appreciate it very much.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #100)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:41 PM

173. The difference here is in how you receive income compared to most

Most of us work and are paid for the time, either as employees or small businesses. Some are paid for the production. I for example used to have a side business selling things I made. Just like your sound equipment, I had to invest in tools and equipment. I had to pay for materials too (hey you avoid that one at least). When I sold my products I was paid enough to cover my time, investment and (modest) ability.

What I didn't get is any cut on what happened with that product after I sold it. Resold? Not a penny. Loaned out? Nada. Used in public? Zip. Heck even as a corporate stooge, several companies are still using processes and systems I designed. They paid me once and then never again. That's the disconnect many people see in your argument.

Now surely I agree purely creative products are different. No argument. When you are selling what are essentially ideas there must be a different model. But even here the closest analog to songwriters is surely non-song writers. Novelists and the like. Yep they should get paid and not stolen from willy-nilly even in this digital age. But should a library pay them for every time the book is loaned (do they do this? No idea. Don't think so though). Are used book shops illegal pirates? Book clubs that involve live excerpt reading are thieves? My wife volunteers teaching at a literacy center. Should she be paying Hemingway's estate royalties - his simplistic language yet interesting stories are great for teaching adults BTW?

I straddle the fence here. I have sympathy for your plight, honestly. Yours is a product that is easily duplicated and with limited revenue streams for all but the lucky megastars. But I think BMI et al go too far too. That model is not fair. Creative products should be paid for absolutely, but to expect every single time someone is exposed to them to be financialized is unrealistic. The graphic artist of the billboard you mentioned is paid yes. But he's not paid per car that passes by, and he's not paid every time someone takes a picture of his work and poss it on Facebook. That's what BMI seeks - to charge every time someone is exposed to your music, no matter how many times people decided they want to own it.

You asked for a fairer model. My answer is that music should be like books. We should pay for them to have a copy. We should not pay for them every time we read them, even to a group of people in public. Now if I could directly make money reading a book to people - people paid to hear me read for some strange reason - then royalties are perhaps appropriate. But that model would make bands liable not bars, and only bands that are paid to play your songs, not those who are amateurs. The bar owner may make money when bands are there it's true - but they make money selling the booze and food for which they pay, with your song only as an enticement - a loss leader if they are paying the band.

Your revenue stram is barely tenable unless you sell copies, I get that. That's the market though - people need to be willing to pay to own your music. But your preferred solution is patently unfair - to be paid many times over any time someone uses your product. Even Microsoft can't quite manage that.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #173)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 03:27 AM

183. I appreciate your reasoned, thoughtful response, which is encouraging...

...given the seemingly love em or hate em general tone of this whole thread.

What some here do not understand or know about is that the licensing fees imposed on live music venues by BMI is but a fraction of the services they provide as the Performing Rights Organization - PRO - to which my music publishing company is affiliated.

It is correct that I will not likely be receiving anything through BMI over their settlements with the Pittsburgh clubs cited in the link in the OP.

But I do get royalties from other areas of activity monitored by BMI, and I have NEVER paid one cent to BMI for anything they do for me. They are a non-profit organization, they work hard for their members and affiliates.

So, really, PROs, one or the other or more, are the only options, even for unknowns like me.

That's my short answer, and I'm basically done with this whole thread!

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:10 PM

13. I hate those people. They suck money out of bar owners for music that is even played on the

juke box or radio. You'd think they would have gotten their pound of flesh when the music is first published. I worked in an Irish bar and we had a local band that played traditional Irish songs that were around a hundred years old or more. One of the record companies came around wanting copyright money from the band and owners. When they argued that the songs had been around forever, they replied that because the Clancy Brothers and other bands had recordings out that it was copyright infringement, the owner, an Irishman, got pissed off and threw everything out including the juke box.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #13)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:37 PM

28. It's not, nor ever was about copyright infringement.

It's about a business that refuses to change with growing technology and risking their precious profits, so they have to resort to drastic measures like this to recoup their losses. If you don't change with technology you will lose money. It's that simple.

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Response to Initech (Reply #28)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:43 PM

30. This has been going on since the sixties and seventies when I was a bartender and

learned about it. So this was still the age of vinyl and 45 rpm. Another saloon owner tried to tell my boss that the record companies had ties with mafia type gangsters and it was mostly a shakedown at the retail watering hole level and that they had managed to make legal. So he advised him just to pay it. My boss thought it was bullshit and went to an all sports, no music format in his place. It shut out starting musicians though, who actually didn't get any money from the license. I knew a girl who worked occasionally as a back up singer for groups in the recording studio and she did get a check now and then, but it wasn't very much.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:15 PM

15. How soon before individuals are hit with a lawsuit for singing while walking down the street,

 

That is where this is leading.

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Response to MadHound (Reply #15)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 01:22 PM

17. If you were making money at something like a hot dog cart for instances, they

would try to get you to buy a license and it's legal.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:20 PM

21. Henry Robbins is an idiot. I have several friends who own nightclubs & even -I- knew you have to pay

Pay the fees or get original talent.

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #21)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:28 PM

25. Even original talent can get nailed if the BMI mafia come around and say that

their song was plagiarized from another's work even though there might be a similarity, it's a stretch.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:26 PM

24. Fuck hiding behind copyright bullshit. It's about maximizing profit margins.

And this is exactly why I hare BMI, the RIAA and the copyright police.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:31 PM

26. A quote from the linked article...

“It would cost like $2,600 a year and for a venue the size of the place here it's just not worth it, Robbins said.


Which averages out to $216.67 per month, or approximately $7.12 per day.

If this venue cannot afford that, then the management is severely inept, and the venue is probably doomed to failure whether they pay $7.12 per day, or not, to BMI.

Mick Jagger and Lady Gaga are not the only artists that benefit from Performing Rights Organizations such as BMI. Indie artists like myself do, as well.

What would those who object to BMI, or other PROs, have us do to have our music protected from exploitation for profit by anybody who wants to use our work for nothing in return?

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #26)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:45 PM

32. Some places operate as neighborhood bars and after you pay the help, other licenses

and try to keep your prices low, that's a lot. Some places only have juke boxes or maybe have a band on the weekend. They don't function as R&R clubs all the time so this is asking a lot. Most bands get some money from the owner or in tips, so they aren't working for free and they can get some exposure to the public. By doing this they won't have that opening for them because they don't see a dime of the BMI money.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #32)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:03 PM

41. The fees also apply to venues with juke boxes...

...or music supplied by services contracted to provide restaurants, bars, even grocery stores with "piped in" music - what used to be called "muzak" - named after the company that originally provided such a service - as do others now. Remember the phrase "elevator music"? That music was paid for under license by the building or property management company.

The fees are not only assessed on venues that put live performers on stage, doing other artist's songs. They apply to all manner of using licensed and protected by PROs music which a venue may use as a draw to bring in customers, whether it is live performance or recorded and played back in the venue by any means.

$7.12 is not too much to ask, if the management cannot afford that amount, they are inept.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #41)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:10 PM

47. It's not affording, it's being forced to buy something you don't want

and often your clientele don't care about. I notice more and more that most bars and restaurants don't play music anymore but have adopted the sports bar model just like my boss did back in the seventies and he never looked back. It seems that this shakedown needs to stop if bands are ever to get a foothold back into the bars and nightclubs again. You should be paid for original work. You should be paid for performing. You should make money off your CDs. Radio stations should pay for your playlists or whatever it is they pay for to play on the radio. Even the juke box guy should pay a small license since he makes money from the juke box. Then I think it should end there. Bands should be able to play whatever they want that is over fifty years old when they perform live. Open mic shouldn't be charged for and for chrissakes background music in public places shouldn't be charged for.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #26)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:58 PM

38. I agree. They should be able to pay $7.12 per day. And it seems fair.

However, what I don't understand is this:

1) You pay BMI $7.12 per day to keep their artists from being ripped-off. Fine.

2) A musician walks into the bar and plays a song written by Billy Joel.

3) How does any of that $7.12 find its way into the hands of Billy Joel?

4) What if you have a bar that plays nothing but songs written by Jonathon Coulton all day long? Shouldn't a huge chunk of your $7.12 go to Jonathon Coulton, and none of it go to Billy Joel?

5) Suppose you have a national chain called Bar out of Hell that plays nothing but the music of Jonathon Coulton-- thousands of restaurants, sprouting-up all over the place like Starbucks. Shouldn't Jonathon Coulton be getting fabulously wealthy off of the BMI payments from your chain, and Billy Joel not seeing a damn cent?

6) If you own a chain of bars that play both kinds of music-- Country AND Western-- shouldn't only Country and Western writers be getting paid from your BMI payments?

7) I think that BMI should work similarly to how Spotify works. The venue should pay their $7.21 a day, and submit a playlist, and then a portion of the dues should be divided-up among the songwriters in accordance to how often their songs are played.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #26)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:09 PM

46. They get paid for their music.

 

If I buy an mp3 from iTunes, and my friend who didn't buy the song but listened to it with me, by your logic, then, he should pay a small fee to listen to it as well.



When does the greed end?

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Response to Apophis (Reply #46)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:29 PM

52. I am not greedy because I expect to be paid something for my work...

...if you look at the link to the article in the OP, a venue owner does not want to pay a $2600 annual fee to license the use of BMI affiliated music in his bar or whatever it is. That works out to a whopping $7.12 per day. If that amount will break their bank, then management is incompetent, and they will most likely fail whether they pay the fee or not.

And, no, I do not expect anything like what you state in your post, that is an absurd scenario not being discussed in this thread.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #52)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:15 PM

75. I'm not saying artists shouldn't get paid.

 

What I am saying is how far down do you expect payment for writing/singing a song? Should I have to pay Lady Gaga everytime I sing along to one of her songs in my car?

I don't care if it's "only" $7.12/day. It's ridiculous what BMI is doing to this bar.

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Response to Apophis (Reply #75)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:31 PM

83. OK, if you say so, but...

...it isn't just "this bar," other bars actually pay the fee because they recognize the value it brings to their operation.

It's just that "this bar" is run by incompetents who do so poorly at generating revenue that they blame a $7.12 licensing fee for all of their difficulties.

I stand by my statement that if the management is doing so poorly at generating enough revenue to afford a $7.12 daily fee for the use of quality, licensed music, then the BMI fee is NOT management's real problem - their actual problem is incompetency at running their business - and they will likely fail whether they pay the fee or not.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:46 PM

33. that's how songwriters make their livings. do you work for free?

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Response to spanone (Reply #33)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:57 PM

37. They should make money for writing songs. The artist who plays the song

should make money. The radio station that plays the song should pay to play the song. The concert goer should play for performances they attend. But when you go into your local for a beer and music is playing on Pandora in the background, hasn't enough money been paid out? I listen to a lot of music at the gym,I don't even like but I'm sure it's included in the cost of my membership. No doubt they have to pay for a license too. I don't think they should because by the time the music has filtered down to the street level and you are an unwilling listener, by that time you shouldn't be paying for it.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #37)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:06 PM

43. I like your response.

 

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Response to Cleita (Reply #37)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:32 PM

55. why should you have to pay for the beer? it's gone through the distributor...hasn't it made enough?

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Response to spanone (Reply #55)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:59 PM

112. Its more like paying for the beer, and then paying to use the urinal.

Very little of the money paid to licensing companies via registering songs and bars paying licensing fees gets distributed back to the songwriters. It just goes to lining their pockets and keeping squads of lawyers on retainer to threaten bar owners.

Friend of mine has spent thousands registering songs with ASCAP, shes never seen a dime in royalties despite getting radio airplay...because its on college and community radio who aren't sampled. All the money goes to songwriters played on commercial radio, TV, and movies, or are recorded by other artists.

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Response to spanone (Reply #33)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:34 PM

56. See my post a little down thread.

The vast majority of songwriters will never see a dime in royalties, even if their songs are popular in bars and college radio. Its a racket, rigged to redistribute money to commercial stars, and stifles opportunities for new artists to emerge.

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Response to spanone (Reply #33)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:45 PM

63. the songwriters don't get but a fraction of the price anytime their song is performed, even in

 

big venues.

the lion's share goes to the money men. and that's who's pushing this crap.

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Response to spanone (Reply #33)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:03 PM

69. Thank you. Most people who criticize BMI have yet to create anything of artistic value

and then bemoan the deplorable state of popular music today.

There's not fucking money in it, that's why. They want Van Goghs to whom they can toss a penny or two when they feel like it. Fuck that.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #69)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:35 AM

137. Artistic value = money

to you...

Not me.

BTW... I guess I'm not one of your "most people". BTDT

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #69)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:03 AM

144. there's not money in it mainly because of the dominance of corporations and organizations like

 

bmi, who siphon most of the money into their own pockets and the pockets of a few 'stars' while shutting down small players, including local venues.

A bunch of you sent in this NY Times puff piece that basically follows around a BMI "enforcer," for a day, watching as she tries to get restaurants, clubs, bars, skating rinks, etc. to pay up for playing music in their establishments. It's all legal, but it has all the hallmarks of a pure shakedown -- which is why operations like BMI and ASCAP are notorious for doing more harm than good, by making it much more difficult for up-and-coming musicians to find venues to play in.

Many venues simply stop playing music, rather than deal with expensive BMI/ASCAP licenses. On top of that, because of the way these systems work, they tend to funnel money disproportionately to big name artists, again harming less well known songwriters. BMI, in fact, has been particularly obnoxious about this. Last year, when a songwriter who had not received any of the promised royalties was brought up, BMI responded that it wasn't their problem, and "I would like to tell him is that he needs to write a hit song." Nice, huh?

Then there's the new tools that BMI is using to track down everyone who's playing music. It's spying on more and more areas where music is played, and the reporter discussed with a few people, and they all found it creepy. BMI's response? They like that people refer to them as "Big Brother."

Friends I talked to had a similar reaction. To a one, they said: "Jesus. Sounds like Big Brother." When I mentioned this to DeBusk, he smiled ominously. "Yes. Well. We're here to help."

Finally, the closing vignette is really kinda sickening. The reporter follows the "salesperson" as she goes to talk to a struggling restaurant who has trouble paying the bills. After a bit of "negotiation" she gets them to pay up and then admits she knows she's taking money that the owners really need:

Baker accepted Ross's invitation and sat down in the booth with Ross and her pug, Frank. Out came the checkbook. "I could tell she was low on money," Baker told me later. "I could tell it was hard for her to shell out the money."

Sickening. This is legalized extortion. And, make no mistake. It's all very legal. But we should be asking why.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100806/15462810537.shtml

Fact is, corporate america, and its enforcement arms like bmi, is devoted to eliminating or rendering subservient all players but themselves.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #144)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:19 AM

150. Are you aware BMI is a non-profit organization?

BMI's job is to collect money for its writers and publishers. I'm one of them, and I get checks twice a year for music I've worked very hard to create.

So the whole "corporate fascist amerika" thing falls on deaf ears with me. Airplay is a big component of a songwriter's royalties, and there were many times when I had trouble paying the bills too and my BMI check was a lifesaver.

With streaming, Pandora, Napster, etc. there's virtually no money in music anymore anyway. That's why artists are being signed to so-called "360" deals, where they have to sign their lives away - merchandising, touring, management etc for extended lengths of time - to even get heard.

So it's not coincidence that music is free today and music is awful today. Anyone with talent will play their favorite club at night and put up drywall during the day before they'll submit to that bullshit.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #150)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:34 AM

152. bmi is the enforcement arm of the publishing industry, pure and simple.

 

"Airplay is a big component of a songwriter's royalties"

we're not talking about airplay, we're talking about shaking down amateurs for cash.

and when did musicians *not* have to sign their lives away to record labels, publishers, etc to get heard? that's because corporations controlled most opportunities to be heard through control of media, and that's even more the case today.

and now they want to control even more, even down to a bunch of amateurs at open mike night in the local coffeeshop.

*that's* why music sucks, because there *is* no local music scene in most places, no place where people can go and play for audiences and practice their craft, no local and varied music culture, just wall-to-wall identical crapola controlled by the major corporations.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #152)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 07:59 AM

156. This is hilarious.

You really have no clue what BMI's function or music publishing is, much less how royalties are distributed. But no need to let that spoil a perfectly good rant...carry on.

LOL "the publishing industry"

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #156)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:21 PM

175. maybe 'publishing industry' isn't the right term; i amend it to 'corporations like time-warner'.

 

same difference.

e.g. the beatles' catalog:

Gruss, the scion of a New York hedge-fund family and a one-time Bear Stearns & Co. investment banker, in early 2011 created a music publishing company, Round Hill Music, which has among its holdings the music and lyrics to six early Beatles songs.

Round Hill now has designs on scooping up more assets, including in portfolios that will be sold off following the $2.2 billion expected purchase of EMI Music Publishing by an investor group that includes Sony Corp., Blackstone Group LP, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co, Raine Group and entertainment mogul David Geffen.

To win clearance from regulators in Europe and the U.S., the consortium earlier this year agreed to sell off world-wide publishing rights to several of its smaller catalogs, including Virgin Music Publishing’s songs in the U.K., the U.S. and Europe, as well as Famous Music’s catalog of U.K. compositions. Those sales are now in process.

Sony controls 251 Beatles songs, which it won’t be selling.


http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2012/08/14/baby-youre-a-rich-man-ex-wall-streeter-owns-the-beatles-wants-more/

As McCartney puts it, "You know what doesn't feel very good is going on tour and paying to sing all my songs. Every time I sing 'Hey Jude' I've got to pay someone."

http://www.uncut.co.uk/paul-mccartney/mccartney-gets-back-the-beatles-songs-news



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Response to spanone (Reply #33)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:08 AM

160. Do you think the behavior described in post 5 is OK?

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:47 PM

34. What idiots--the music companies are greedy pigs and they need to be checked.

Next thing ya know, they'll want you to send in a two dollar check before you can sing Happy Birthday at a child's party.

I'm glad, though, that this is a thread about music and licensing...a cursory glance at the subject of the thread made me, for a moment, think that this was about issues of "Body Mass Index" at karaoke bars!

Open mic nites are a cheap way for rural bars to have a little entertainment and draw in a crowd of friends/supporters. If the people are any good, they're an ad for the music they play. If they suck, all they do is point out how much better the "original" is.

I'm ready to go back to listening to Ragtime...I'm sick of these jerks with their licensing and scratching for nickels and dimes!

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Response to MADem (Reply #34)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:53 PM

64. Plenty of ragtime in my neck of the woods.

We even have small festivals.

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Response to MADem (Reply #34)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:29 PM

82. Actually, yes.

If you sang Happy Birthday in a bar, ASCAP can sue the bar if they aren't paying fees to ASCAP. They can do this because ASCAP has over a hundred arrangements of Happy Birthday registered with them. And a court precedent has established that the onus of proof lies with the bar to prove none of those arrangements were performed. ASCAP is the group that even sued the Girl Scouts over Campfire Songbook content.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #82)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:40 PM

87. I said "at a child's birthday party" not at a bar.

But even at that, I say fuck 'em. They're going over the top.

They want to squeeze every damn cent they can out of folks, for their own profit motive. And the folks they're trying to squeeze are the working class, the people without a lot of cash to spare, who just want to go to a bar, have a drink and listen to other working class folks honing their hobby. If a person likes the song, the odds are that they won't hold up their cellphone and record the schmucks singing it live, they'll go to iTunes and buy it for a buck.

To hell with them. Greedy bastards, going after amateurs playing for free.

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Response to MADem (Reply #87)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:53 PM

89. I know. Performances at home before a limited audience are exempt.

I was merely pointing out that were you to do so in a bar or resturant, ASCAP could sue them.

I agree...greedy bastards. I have no problem with songwriters being paid for performances of their songs. But only a small percentage of ASCAP's income is distributed out as royalties. And that which is, goes overwhelmingly to songwriters played on commercial media. Those whose songs are popular on college and community radio, coffeehouses, etc...artists like Leonard Cohen, Ani DiFranco...don't see much if any royalties.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #89)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:58 PM

90. It's still asinine. Open mic nites are like amateur hour contests, without prizes.

Amateurs get up and try their hand, and people cheer, boo, or yawn. No one gets any money for their trouble. It's an opportunity to practice and see if one is any good in public, and it's a way to foster a bit of community in working class venues.

I think it's shitty to go after bar owners who are only providing a stage and a microphone for newbies to practice in public. Hell, half the time they don't know what that greasy-haired kid with the pimples is going to sing, and to expect them to keep track of that kind of stuff is just absurd.

All I can say is, reading about this has given me an "opinion" about BMI. And that opinion isn't a good one, and makes me less likely to buy anything with their greedyass logo on it!

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Response to MADem (Reply #90)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:53 AM

129. Right on.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:05 PM

42. BMI can go fuck themselves.

 

Greedy bastards.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:08 PM

45. Ha, BMI is far from the worst. Google ASCAP for a litany of thuggery.

First of all, before I begin my rant, let me say I'm entirely in favor of songwriters collecting royalties due them. But ASCAP is nothing but a legalized extortion racket.
First of all, in determining who is being played, ASCAP only tracks commercial radio, TV, and movies. Next to no sampling is done at college or community stations, or at live performances. So, unless you are a pop star, you will never see a dime in royalties. Suppose you disagree with this? Tough shit, only artists who receive royalties are allowed to vote.

Second, ASCAP files suit against any venue not paying them. Fees are over $5000/yr for a small bar or pub. In these suits, the presumption of guilt is on the bar-owner to prove no ASCAP registered song was ever played. This might seem easy...just keep a playlist, right? Not so fast...ASCAP allows registering not only original songs, but arrangements of covers. There might be a hundred arrangements of "Happy Birthday To You" or of "Let it Be". A simple set list can't prove one of those arrangments wasn't played.

Third. If a venue isn't paying a fee to ASCAP, no ASCAP registered songs can be played there...NOT EVEN BY THE SONGWRITER THEMSELF!!! So, if you're a fledgling singer-songwriter, and you want to pick up some extra money by playing a resturant gig...forget it unless they have paid ASCAP.

Fourth. ASCAP takes in something like $7 billion a year. There is no requirement to distribute royalties, that only happens after expenses are covered. So, they have a fancy building in NYC, earn fat salaries and bonuses, and have squads of lawyers sitting around waiting to file lawsuits. No bar or resturant has the resources to fight them.

I could go on and on about these crooks...afterall, they're the ones that sued the Girl Scouts over the Campfire Songbook. But, if you go out, and find yourself lamenting that there's no good local music...all the places have jukeboxes, DJs, and Karaoke ( which are covered under different rules), then know that the blame lies with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and the other licensing companies. They have simply made it too expensive for small venues to have live music, and bands have few places to play and get experience.
I have been urging local songwriters to register their songs instead with the US Copyright office. Its about 10% the cost. They don't collect royalties for you, but most local musicians are thankful for any little airplay they get, and the royalties would have been a few pennies. Exposure is much more valuble. Also, US Copyright office has lawyers who will aid your defense to play your own music whereever you want, should ASCAP try to sue you. Usually though, ASCAP doesn't sue musicians (who have little money)...they go after the business owners.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 03:53 PM

65. I have dealt with BMI

I am the secretary of a gay mens chorus and have been the treasurer of the same and frankly BMI was quite reasonable with us. We fill out a quarterly report detailing our audience size, the BMI songs we used, and then we get a bill which is quite reasonable. I fail to see why a bar couldn't do the same thing, after all I am a volunteer and is the person who issues the check and we can do it.

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Response to dsc (Reply #65)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:01 PM

68. Thank you for bringing some Reality into this discussion...nt.

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Response to dsc (Reply #65)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:04 PM

72. This BMI writer thanks you for your comment. nt

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Response to dsc (Reply #65)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:16 PM

76. How many songs in your chorus' repertoire?

How would it compare with three months worth of music playing in a bar?

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #76)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:22 PM

79. our profits are much less than that of a bar for three months it should be noted

We have either two or three concerts a year and perform about 18 songs a concert. Some are BMI and some aren't.

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Response to dsc (Reply #79)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:13 PM

92. I wasn't really thinking of profits but rather record keeping

Keeping track of the songs that are played in a bar would take a considerable amount of detailed record keeping in an often chaotic environment. I suspect that the record keeping would cost as much as the licensing when you figure in the cost of the time to note down every song played in a busy bar.



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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #92)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:24 PM

96. I would think a flat fee would be more appropriate

in that situation. Though given the electronic nature of both modern jukeboxes and modern karaoke machines I would think one could download what was played each night and have a big file at the end of the quarter.

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Response to dsc (Reply #96)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:32 PM

98. I was thinking more of live music type situation

Yeah, karaoke and juke box could be done as you say though.


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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #98)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:42 PM

111. Live music falls on the performers not the venue

in most cases.

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Response to dsc (Reply #111)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:51 AM

119. nope, they sue & threaten the bar owners, not the musicians. deeper pockets and more to lose.

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #119)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:55 AM

120. If the live group charges admission or charges the bar for playing

then they should be the ones responsible. I do have a problem with BMI going after a bar in that case.

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Response to dsc (Reply #120)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:12 AM

132. the bar owner hires the musicians and controls the door charge, so not sure how the band would

 

be doing that.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #132)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:14 AM

134. so the band is making money for playing music

so they should be the ones who pay the fee. The bar would surely know the number of people who attended, which they would tell the band, the band fills out the report, no different than what my chorus does except of course we sell our own tickets so we don't have to ask crowd size.

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Response to dsc (Reply #134)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:15 AM

149. i don't know what kind of bands you're talking about, but most bar bands around here (and there

 

are fewer every year) make maybe enough for drinks and gas money.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #98)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:13 AM

148. so with karaoke & juke boxes you pay twice: once for the 'records/tape/digital recordings,' +

 

a fee to actually play them.

it's ridiculous.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 04:16 PM

77. Good lord. The greed is endless.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #77)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:39 AM

138. hear, hear!

n/t

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:13 PM

93. BMI is hiring an army of barflies...

Part-Time Music Researcher - 1054
Responsibilities / Duties

Company seeks occasional part time individual to complete music and market research in businesses in various states. Work can be 0-8 hours per week depending on availability of assignments. Applicant must be 21+ years of age, have the ability to conduct onsite research in businesses late evenings, including weekends, and be available for possible travel and overnight stay.

Conducting in-person research in businesses as assigned.
Completing a detailed report of music used in a business during in-person research.
Recording the music performance(s).
Photographing both the exterior and interior of the location.


http://www.bmi.com/jobs/

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Response to Snarkoleptic (Reply #93)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 05:16 PM

95. aka 'spies'

 

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 07:55 PM

101. The bar I help out at a few times a week has

Last edited Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:20 AM - Edit history (1)

jam sessions, some planned, some impromptu ... the instruments and amps are always set up and anyone who wants to can grab a guitar, blow off the dust and start things off. I've never even thought it might be something they could get in trouble for. I guess that's probably why they're never advertised.

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Response to polly7 (Reply #101)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:12 PM

103. Yep. And BMI/ASCAP won't sue the musicians,

They'll go after the bar owners. There's little the bar owners can do, either.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #103)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:18 PM

105. That's just scary.

It's my friend that owns it, she can barely afford to get her beer orders in every week. I have a little niece who's an amazing singer and goes all over the place for competitions and charity stuff ...... can they go after her too?

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Response to polly7 (Reply #105)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:40 PM

108. They seldom go after the musicians,

because the musicians aren't charged licensing fees (and probably have little money). They go after the bar owner, threatening suits for hundreds of thousands of dollars, unless the bar pays licensing fees. ASCAP charges the highest fees, about $5000/yr for a small bar with live music 3 nights a week. Of course, this is a prohibitive expense for many small bars.

I know a woman who owns a venue (I'm being deliberately vague, to protect her) that simply cannot afford to pay licensing fees. She thinks she is being safe by only permitting original songs, for donations. However, one of her popular songwriters that performs, registers their songs with ASCAP. They cannot play the songs they registered with ASCAP in a venue that is not paying a licensing fee to ASCAP. And the basis of playing for donations doesn't matter. After studying up on the matter, I warned the woman of her potential legal problem. She simply doesn't have an alternative...she will just shut the doors if she is sued.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #108)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:47 PM

109. I see, thank you for the info.

That's just so wrong that the songwriter can't play his / her own songs anywhere they like, imo. I hope your friend never gets into trouble. I'm going to ask my Deb if she's ever been approached about this.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:13 PM

104. $2,600.00 for a year to play anyone's songs period is actually not very much.

One professionally produced song can costs $10,000 to record, pay all the musicians and the studio hourly recording and mastering fees times 12 or 13 for each song on an album can add up not to mention the cost of manufacturing. The profit for an average bar per night was about $2,000 40 years ago. I used to deal with bar bands who got paid per week what a bar made in profit for one night. Anyone who has bought a drink lately knows that a shot is about $6 and a beer can be as much as $5 each. Unless the bar is in a remote place where the clientele is small it is not much to pay for the very reason people come to you bar. Maybe there should be equity and less fees for bars in remote locations.

Musicians and songwriters are no different that plumbers. Ask a plumber what he'll charge for coming to you house and fixing the pipes from 9:00 pm until 2 or 3:00 AM on a Saturday night. A musician will be will to work for half of that. I really tired of people who think music is easy and only worth tips. It's work. If you want music disappear just say so and live without it. Don't pay the songwriters and musicians and they will go away.

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Response to Lint Head (Reply #104)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:32 PM

107. Thanks Lint Head, this is a tough crowd...

...they fail to take into consideration the many sacrifices many musicians make in order to do what they are often times compelled to do, regardless of the cost to them both financially and in their personal lives.

Most of those complaining about BMI licensing fees would probably not be too happy if their work was used without compensation, but I guess that's because those people are doing REAL work, not playing in a band.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #107)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:34 AM

115. Most musicians that join bmi/ascap get *nothing*.

 

In 1996, even the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts got the licensing equivalent of a tap on the shoulder. That August, ASCAP notified the organizations that their camps would have to purchase licenses, costing $10,000 yearly in total, to continue to use the songs listed in the camps' songbooks. After quickly realizing it was committing public relations suicide, the organization backed down.

One of the biggest complaints about ASCAP from those who use it is that, for an organization that behaves in a quasi-governmental manner--demanding licenses, leveling penalties (by way of the court system, at least)--it has the transparency of the KGB. To many artists, ASCAP's royalty distribution scheme has little rhyme or reason beyond it being tilted in favor of known pop artists. As Robert Suggs, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law specializing in copyright law, observes, "Very, very few musicians make their living off their ASCAP royalties."

You only get money from ASCAP when your song is sampled. If you're getting airplay on commercial radio, you'll probably be sampled, maybe quite a lot. If you're not getting airplay on commercial radio, the odds of never getting sampled is pretty high. If you are an independent artist, the odds of being on commercial radio tend toward zero.

"If you're included on a survey, it's likely you'll get paid more than you should've," explains Paul Anthony, the CEO of Rumblefish, an independent music licensing company. "And if you're not, you get paid nothing. At all."

http://www2.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=15510

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #115)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:40 AM

116. I get *something* ...

...which is better than the for sure *nothing* I would have otherwise received.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #116)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:45 AM

118. most get *nothing*. And publishers take the lion's share. So the claim that taking dinky little

 

music venues to court is somehow a blow for the 'little guy' is absolute bullshit.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #118)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:56 AM

121. OK so what else do you want me to tell you?...

...answer my question as to who I should take my publishing to for representation in the Global Market?

BTW, I have never said anything in ANY of my posts in this thread about "taking dinky little music venues to court," so please do not use the underhanded tactic of trying to conflate my situation and views with that particular statement which YOU just posted in response to me.

Most get *nothing* - I get *something* - which is better than *nothing* - deal with it on your own terms if it concerns you so much.

Thanks and good luck.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #121)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:05 AM

124. "Taking dinky little music venues to court," or threatening them with such, is exactly what they're

 

doing.

And most of the money goes to big corporations, not musicians.

Who owns copyright on 'happy birthday,' which can no longer be sung by restaurant staff to customers?

Time-Warner.


Albeit the tune to 'happy birthday' was written by a couple of teachers in 1893 who never made a dime off it and the lyrics were written by some anonymous person as early as 1912 who apparently never made a dime off it either.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #124)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:18 AM

127. Happy Birthday is not the issue here, this is about...

...living, breathing, creating, working, mostly independent artists which you apparently have little-to-zero regard for, because we should choose to have NO PRO representing us, no matter how marginally so, in your view.

Thanks, but No Thanks.

And again repeating your invented and already debunked "Taking dinky little music venues to court" meme, in an effort to attach that statement to my posts in this thread, is now doubly reprehensible.

Good night.

Forever.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #127)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:10 AM

131. you didn't debunk anything. & if a venue with 15 audience members & no liquor ain't 'dinky,'

 

i don't know what is.

A month after the event, Load of Fun received an e-mail from a representative of the American Society of Composers, Artists, and Publishers (ASCAP), one of three main organizations that administer music copyrights. The e-mail stated that the records played during the October event, or at least one of them--none was specifically mentioned in the e-mail--were covered by ASCAP's labyrinthine music licensing system. Load of Fun didn't hold an ASCAP license and was therefore, ASCAP's e-mail alleged, violating U.S. copyright law.

Suzanna Gerber, Load of Fun's events and exhibitions coordinator, recalls dealing with ASCAP representative John Saracino. "My initial reaction : It's like the federal government is the Mafia--Put my cigarette machine in your restaurant or we'll break your knee caps," she writes in an e-mail to City Paper. "He emphatically described the organization, ASCAP, as a part of the federal government, not capitalizing on copyright legislation."

"It felt like a scam from the get-go," Gerber adds by phone.

There were roughly 15 people at the show, according to Mark. Not only wasn't the space charging admission, but it doesn't sell alcohol, often the primary source of revenue for a music venue. The space wasn't selling anything that night, in fact. Regardless, the event was technically what copyright law deems a "small performance" of someone else's creation. And that someone else wasn't getting his or her due from the elaborate and opaque ASCAP royalty payment system.


http://www2.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=15510


you didn't debunk *anything*. it's a shakedown operation, and it doesn't benefit small musicians, it benefits big corporations.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #131)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:34 AM

136. I have already received royalty payments on my BMI registered...

...catalog of music. I am a "small musician." I got payments.

Which I would not have received were it not for my affiliation with BMI (or some other PRO).

What about that do you not GET?!

Bye.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #136)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:39 AM

139. I made no claims about *you*. I said most get nothing, and that publishers and money men take

 

the lion's share, and that the idea that this crap about shaking down small venues is 'for the little guy' is just that, absolute crap. It's for the big guys, cause they make most of the money.

what is it about that that *you* don't get?

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #139)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:48 AM

141. Good night, I am tired of your total fucking bullshit...

...you know absolutely, and all along what I have been posting all throughout this thread.

And you choose to dismiss the performing rights of artists big and small because some venues are run by assholes and incompetents who can't afford the fee their competitor up the street does pay, without being driven out of business.

Whatever. Your pettiness is duly noted.

I've had enough with you.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #141)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:04 AM

145. "the long goodbye"

 

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #127)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:22 AM

163. Do you think the behavior described in post 5 is OK?

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #115)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:31 PM

177. But BMI is a nonprofit company (unlike ASCAP) and they have programs...

to support and encourage lesser heard music. Especially folk and jazz. But don't let me hold up the bashing!

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Response to Walk away (Reply #177)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:01 PM

178. non-profit is not synonymous with 'good'. it's actually not even synonymous with 'non-profit'.

 

Under state and federal tax laws, however, as long as a nonprofit corporation is organized and operated for a recognized nonprofit purpose and has secured the proper tax exemptions, it can take in more money than it spends to conduct its activities.

In other words, your nonprofit can make a profit. Whether or not a nonprofit's income is taxable depends on whether the activities are related to the nonprofit's purpose.


http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/taxes-nonprofit-corporation-earnings-30284.html

non-profit corps are a nice tax-evasion, nepotism/graft scam.

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Response to Lint Head (Reply #104)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 09:39 PM

110. The amount varies.

Depending on the type, size, of venue and how often they have music. Friends of mine own a small pub with live music 3 nights a week. ASCAP determined their capacity to be 85, which is a joke...its crowded with 50. So, they have to pay ASCAP $5000/ yr. Plus $2000/ yr to BMI and another $1000/yr to SESAC. 8 freaking grand a year. And they would LOVE to clear two grand a night, as where you worked 40 years ago. They GROSS sales about half that. After paying rent, utilities, insurance, staff, and suppliers...the owners barely make any money, and that with putting in 40 or more hours per week. And they're not alone, places all over the area are struggling big time. Only ones doing reasonably well had the capital to buy their buildings before real estate prices went through the roof...so they don't have a landlord raising their rent as soon as they turn a little profit.

The bands aren't making money either. There simply aren't enough places to play (because of ASCAP etc fee gouging) to gig 4 or 5 nights a week. And the gigs are pretty low-paying often $50/person or less for a whole night's music. Almost every musician has a day job of some sort. Lucky ones have one that has something to do with music. A few are independently wealthy, or have spouses that support them. A couple gave up playing originals, and play covers for tourists at the beach bars for a little better money.

Sorry to be doom and gloom...but thats the situation here. Its tough for everybody.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #110)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:07 AM

125. +1. Good assessment. nt

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Response to Lint Head (Reply #104)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:21 AM

114. profit of $2000/night = average? hogwash.

 

If you assume 20% profit margin & drinks at $10/head, that means to make $2K a night in profit you need to sell $200K in drinks = 20,000 drinks. If everyone has 10 drinks, that's 2000 people.

Most bars with live music seat way fewer people, and even with people coming in and out wouldn't get 2000 customers a night.

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Response to Lint Head (Reply #104)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:43 AM

140. Don't pay the songwriters and musicians and they will go away.

Doubt it.

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Response to Lint Head (Reply #104)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:21 AM

151. actually, it's the opposite. make it impossible for local venues to host live music and musicians

 

Last edited Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:56 AM - Edit history (1)

will go away. and they have. when i was young there was a local music scene even in my small town. there basically isn't now, and only a couple of places that even have live music, where there used to be dozens.

It's bars and dance clubs that used to be the place where musicians developed themselves. As small ones disappear, so will the musicians they helped nurture. and as with everything in capitalist america, only the majors -- those with lots of capital behind their band, their club -- will survive.

A bunch of you sent in this NY Times puff piece that basically follows around a BMI "enforcer," for a day, watching as she tries to get restaurants, clubs, bars, skating rinks, etc. to pay up for playing music in their establishments. It's all legal, but it has all the hallmarks of a pure shakedown -- which is why operations like BMI and ASCAP are notorious for doing more harm than good, by making it much more difficult for up-and-coming musicians to find venues to play in. Many venues simply stop playing music, rather than deal with expensive BMI/ASCAP licenses.


http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100806/15462810537.shtml


A little different from your story of declining sales:

BMI has announced that a 24-year streak has not been broken. Maintaining record-breaking revenue and payouts, the company recently posted that the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 saw $901 million in revenue.

BMI CEO Del Bryant expressed the company’s happiness and explained their success, saying, “Our pro-technology and pro-business attitude has made it possible for BMI to continue to grow our revenues more than 7 percent each year, on average over the past 10 years, almost doubling our income in that period.”

http://www.americansongwriter.com/2008/08/bmi-continues-24-year-streak/


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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 01:00 AM

123. Those are my G, C, and D chords...pay up!

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Response to Tom Ripley (Reply #123)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:04 AM

146. Once payment is made for use of the chords...

do they become diminished, or is it the strummer's bank account that gets the distinction?

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:00 AM

143. Sing in the shower?

Without paying BMI licensing fees to cover your choice of songs? Proceed at your own risk!

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Response to Zambero (Reply #143)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:05 AM

147. bmi has drones for that!

 

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)


Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 09:18 AM

162. In which I describe this thread.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:49 PM

168. Are Jagger, Gaga and Sting even aware of this crap?

I doubt it. Do they benefit financially from it? I doubt that also.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:59 PM

170. It's not "Mick Jagger, Sting and Lady Gaga suing

it's "companies representing Mick Jagger, Sting and the late Johnny Cash" according to the article.

Somehow I doubt Mick is too upset that some kid played Angie at an open mic and he didn't get his half a cent.

The time is coming, the internet is making it possible to make and market your own music without having to deal with the leeches of the industry. Musicians have been groomed to accept the fact that millions of dollars are going to be made off of their creations but they will be lucky to get 10% of the money. That is going to change. It's going to be like the growth of television. Where once you had 3 broadcast networks, a PBS and a couple locals, now there are hundreds of channels catering to all tastes and niche markets.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:07 PM

179. He didn't pay when he should have, and now is pretending to be shocked

Speaking as a musician and composer, I can tell you there are two types in that business; "club owners" and "club boners".

This guy is in column B. Wants free music? Blows off the law that requires payment of licensing fees, hires free musicians via open mike nights, now he has to pay the piper. Waaaaaah.

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Response to riqster (Reply #179)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 04:11 PM

181. you don't 'hire' for an open mike night.

 

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