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ASCAP Hassles

Calico Jenny 09 Aug 08 - 11:38 AM
Peace 09 Aug 08 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,Jeff 09 Aug 08 - 11:52 AM
GUEST,Texas Guest 09 Aug 08 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Jeff 09 Aug 08 - 02:28 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 10 Aug 08 - 12:38 AM
CupOfTea 10 Aug 08 - 01:42 AM
Calico Jenny 10 Aug 08 - 01:54 AM
Barry Finn 10 Aug 08 - 02:11 AM
M.Ted 10 Aug 08 - 02:18 AM
Barry Finn 10 Aug 08 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Jeff 10 Aug 08 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,Dani 10 Aug 08 - 11:53 AM
Peace 10 Aug 08 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,TomNelligan 10 Aug 08 - 12:53 PM
Rabbi-Sol 10 Aug 08 - 01:19 PM
Michael S 10 Aug 08 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Mike 10 Aug 08 - 03:40 PM
Peace 10 Aug 08 - 04:00 PM
M.Ted 10 Aug 08 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Aug 08 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,crazy little woman 10 Aug 08 - 04:49 PM
GUEST,Texas Guest 10 Aug 08 - 06:30 PM
Barry Finn 10 Aug 08 - 08:40 PM
M.Ted 10 Aug 08 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,Dani 10 Aug 08 - 09:40 PM
Peace 10 Aug 08 - 10:12 PM
Art Thieme 11 Aug 08 - 01:46 AM
M.Ted 11 Aug 08 - 01:47 AM
M.Ted 11 Aug 08 - 01:51 AM
Barry Finn 11 Aug 08 - 02:49 AM
GUEST,crazy little woman 11 Aug 08 - 10:49 AM
Rabbi-Sol 11 Aug 08 - 01:37 PM
Dani 12 Aug 08 - 06:36 AM
Barry Finn 12 Aug 08 - 10:28 AM
curmudgeon 12 Aug 08 - 03:18 PM
Seamus Kennedy 12 Aug 08 - 03:36 PM
M.Ted 12 Aug 08 - 03:50 PM
DebC 12 Aug 08 - 04:02 PM
M.Ted 12 Aug 08 - 04:13 PM
M.Ted 12 Aug 08 - 04:44 PM
M.Ted 12 Aug 08 - 05:07 PM
DebC 12 Aug 08 - 05:25 PM
DebC 12 Aug 08 - 06:27 PM
Stringsinger 13 Aug 08 - 03:32 PM
Barry Finn 13 Aug 08 - 03:49 PM
M.Ted 13 Aug 08 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,Mj 13 Sep 10 - 02:42 PM
Suffet 13 Sep 10 - 03:02 PM
Arkie 13 Sep 10 - 04:51 PM
Jim Dixon 14 Sep 10 - 12:19 AM
beeliner 14 Sep 10 - 01:46 AM
open mike 14 Sep 10 - 02:22 AM
beeliner 14 Sep 10 - 02:34 AM
Jim Dixon 14 Sep 10 - 11:37 AM
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Subject: ASCAP Hassles
From: Calico Jenny
Date: 09 Aug 08 - 11:38 AM

Our concert series is being plagued by ASCAP collectors, even though we stick to traditional or singer/songwriter stuff. Does anyone know how to call off the dogs? I recognize that ASCAP/BMI protect music creators. On the other hand, if the organization squelches live performance venues in the process, what's the point? As a singer/songwriter myself, it's very frustrating to hear that ASCAP has closed someone down (the local bookstore comes to mind) or has annoyed/threatened the proprietors so much that they were afraid to continue.

Is anyone aware of a good boilerplate letter that can be used to tell these guys to back off? Where I can go/who can I talk to to get well informed on this issue?

Calico Jenny


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Peace
Date: 09 Aug 08 - 11:49 AM

If you are breaking the 'law' by performing someone's work without compensating them then they have the right to 'go after you'. If you are not, tell them to get fucked.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 09 Aug 08 - 11:52 AM

Find out the name of the regional rep, cut them a flat-rate check for a reasonable amount and factor it into your budget. Otherwise, they will NEVER leave you alone. It's not about writers' royalties or the protection of music creators, it's about showing the 'higher ups' they're doing their job. Legal intimidation, if you will. Promotions and corner offices w/views are at stake. I'm a registered ASCAP writer/publisher and have voiced my concerns re 'public performance' tactics myself. I'm a grass roots guy and it makes my stomach turn. And don't forget about SESAC. They're not as big, but their dogs bite, too.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 09 Aug 08 - 12:40 PM

Suffice to say that I have some experience with ASCAP - a good organization, to be sure, but the field reps can be a blinding pain in the ass. Your action? If it is the case that your only performers are singer-songwriter types who perform nothing but their own material, and, any recorded or taped music you may use at any time prior to or after the show to appease the audience is of those same folks - you can ignore them.

Why can you ignore them? It is their responsibility to prove that you are in violation of the copyright laws and that will take more than one monitoring of your shows followed by research on the music they heard, etc. Then they will have to come back to you citing the songs they heard that violate the laws; then, offer you another chance to pay the required fee.

The bottom line is that if they have to go into court to collect their money, they must cite violations of copyright laws where their artists are concerned or they have no case and it is a waste of their time.

I don't know anything about the bookstore in your town that went out of business, but I would suggest that ASCAP was not the cause of their demise. If the store was using recorded music or live music that falls under the jurisdiction of ASCAP then there is a fee involved, but it's not life threatening. ASCAP was probably one of several issues that bookstore was dealing with before they closed down and ASCAP became a convenient scapegoat; but, ASCAP is not in the business of putting businesses out of business.

Finally, you may also have to deal with BMI, SESAC, and any other new ones that I'm not familiar with that have cropped up in the last twenty-five years or so; but, the same rules apply. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 09 Aug 08 - 02:28 PM

Texas Guest has it mostly right. When the reps get up in your grill they're hard to ignore, but cite the rules stated in the above post and the extortion attempts will stop. Just know that for the fee charged the writer(s) in question receive NONE of that money. It's all taken up in 'administrative costs'. We(writers and publishers) receive payment for mechanicals(sales) and airplay(T/radio, TV, S/radio, film, etc.),but the 'small concert', clubs, etc. is where the reps 'make their bones' and establish their 'reps' to the 'bosses'. If they can intimidate a potential music venue into paying the fee or stopping music altogether it makes no difference to them. That's what they get paid to do. But TG is right, they do have to prove a given venue is in violation by citing specific instances of same.

There's a couple of books long out of print, but very insightful. 'Making It With Music' by Kenny Rodgers and 'Leap Of The Smalltime Frog' by Mike...somebody, I can't recall his last name, but he played alot of college gigs in the 70s and 80s. They're small books(less than 100 pages) and are ruthlessly cynical re the music 'business'. But VERY educational.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 12:38 AM

What Peace said 100%!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: CupOfTea
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 01:42 AM

This is one of the issues that's been addressed repeatedly by the North American Folk Alliance. I've not been active with them for a number of yeras, but I can remember sessions on dealing with this sort of hassle during at least three of the yearly conventions, dating back perhaps 15 years, that I attended in the past.

One of the most outrageous & egregious bits of hassle was going after contra dance venues by ASCAP. It was somewhat amusing watching an ASCAP guy farble his way through the session with the representatve from the Country Dance & Song Society there. The ASCAP guy just couldn't get his mind around folks doing tradional dances to traditional tunes. I hope nobody told him about modern dances or he might have seen about getting a royalty from that.

It won't improve the situation, and it prolly won't make you feel any better, but you will have groans of recognition about this sort of thing if you ever read Elizabeth Scarborough's SONGKILLER trilogy of fantasy novels. The fictionalized ASCAP guys get to be played by genuine devils!!

Try Folk Annoyance..er. Alliance and CDSS for formats for dealing with the berks & best of luck doing it!

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Calico Jenny
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 01:54 AM

Thanks, everyone. The bookstore, by the way, didn't go out of business; it just stopped hiring singer/songwriters. I run a church-based coffeehouse and the church continues to nervously support me, in spite of the incredibly threatening letters they've received. But I obviously need to become more hard-nosed about the odd song that falls through the cracks.
Calico Jenny


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Barry Finn
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 02:11 AM

Are you telling me that if I sing at a coffeehouse, a barroom session, a benifit at a church social tha's raising fund for God knows what or in the lobby of a museum & one of the songs I sing was written by anyone that they can charge that establishment a fee?

Barry in the USA


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 02:18 AM

Where have you been, Barry? It's always been like that.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Barry Finn
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:04 AM

I'm always hearing folks doing covers of others. Example, at Maritime estivals someone's always doing a Stan Rogers song & I've never been asked for a song list of what I'm gonna sing & I'm sure that all the places aren't those paying ASCAP fees, espically at the one time yearly affairs.

Barry


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:38 AM

"I'm always hearing...& I'm sure those places aren't paying ASCAP fees...etc.

I'd be willing to bet they are. It's standard procedure at festivals just like having liability insurance and, ah-hem...adequate 'facilities' for the estimated attendence.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 11:53 AM

You bet, Barry.

I don't know how churches, museums, etc that are actually set up as non-profits work things out, but any 'coffeehouse' that makes money and hosts or plays music will eventually be asked to pay up. Our little restaurant had live music, so we had to pay annual fees to ALL those companies once we were on their radar screen, though we generally neither charged people nor paid the musicians (though I wish we could have : )

Dani


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Peace
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 12:48 PM

One thing in case I didn't make myself clear.

I think the ASCAPs, BMIs and SOCANs of this world are important, because without them writers would have a very difficult time making money at writing. I do feel they (writers) should be paid for what others do with their material on stage or on recordings.

Case in point. A relatively well known performer has for years played one of my songs at major festivals and club gigs. He don't come cheap. But, I have never received a cent for his use of the song. All I hope is that he mentions my name as the writer. But honourable mentions don't feed the dog, ya know?


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,TomNelligan
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 12:53 PM

As mentioned above by CupOfTea, the North American Folk Alliance has been very active on this issue for years on behalf of its members, and has been working with both BMI and ASCAP on licensing issues for traditional music venues. Since I'm neither a performer nor a venue operator I haven't been following these activities as closely as I do other FA functions, but if you're not a Folk Alliance member, you might want to look into it at Folk Alliance website . If nothing else, you'll have a chnace to share your story with and get advice from a lot of other presenters who have had the same problem.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 01:19 PM

House concerts that are non-profit have been exempted from the rules by the PROs.

In order to qualify, it has to be a private affair, by invitation only. People must reserve in advance and have their name put on a list and can not just walk in off the street.

You can NOT sell tickets in advance but can ask for a suggested donation at the door.

That is how we operate at The Borderline.

I may also point out that even if a song is "Traditional", an artist may have copyrighted his or her particular ARRANGEMENT of that song which would then be subject to ASCAP rules.

                                                   SOL


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Michael S
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 02:08 PM

I want to supplement what CupOfTea and Tom Nelligan wrote about the Folk Alliance. I believe (I'm not 100% sure) that the FA has actively helped individual venues with negotiations in the past. I also believe that they are aware of the types of arrangements that ASCAP has made with some folk venues that have enabled the venues to carry on.

What I'm adding here is, don't merely prowl through the FA website. Contact them. Shoot an email to Exec. Director Louis Meyers, who I hope would want to help even if you are not currently a member. That, I would think, is how you entice members. His address is louis at folk.org This is, I hope, part of what the FA does.

Michael Scully
Austin, TX


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Mike
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 03:40 PM

While I agree that musicians should be paid for their work, the amount of money that ASCAP was asking for is outrageous. We are a small venue that has local musicians play once or twice a month (we wanted to provide a nice experience for our customers and support local musicians) I have cancelled all live performances until I can work out some type of amicable agreement with ASCAP, BMI and SECSAC


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Peace
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 04:00 PM

I can and do understand where you're coming from, Mike.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 04:09 PM

Unfortunately, if you aren't willing and able to respond in kind, meaning negotiate and litigate, you'll come out on the short end of this. That's why associations, such as the FA, are so important.

ASCAP, who seem like a villain here, was formed by individual songwriters/composers/publishers who did not have the power, individually, to collect their performance royalties. You have to take a page from their playbook.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 04:30 PM

I thought ASCAP (American Assoc of Composers Authors and Publishers) only collected for ASCAP members. If your singer-songwriters are not ASCAP members, then they are none of ASCAP's business.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 04:49 PM

I haven't dealt with ASCAP for a long time, but I believe their method in a case like yours is to deal with the venue, not the organizers. (Venues stay put, organizers can easily vanish into the suneet.) In your case, the venue is the church.

Have you asked to see the correspondence from ASCAP? What is ASCAP asking about? for? Have you volunteered to help respond to ASCAP?

Do all the top people of the church know what kind of music you are doing? Have you reassured them that none of your performers are doing ASCAP stuff? What are you doing to assure compliance from performers? Have you told the church what steps you are taking?

I see that your first post says you do 'traditional' stuff. That's a very vague term. A lot of people would say that songs such as

Green Leaves of Summer
Puff the Magic Dragon
Where Have all the Flowers Gone?
How Great Thou Art

are traditional, but I'm sure they are all copyrighted material.

What you need to do is to ensure that old songs performed are public domain. 'Traditional' isn't adequate.

The church has been doing your group a favor. Now it's time to help the church in return.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 06:30 PM

Mike - you can do as you wish, but throwing in the towel is not your best solution.

Again, if you are CERTAIN that all of the live music you present to your audience at your venue belongs to the artists who perform; and, that ALL of the recorded music (if any) that you use during the intermission and pre/post-show also belongs to the artist, or is public domain - then you do not have a problem here and a very brief letter from your attorney to the regional ASCAP office should remove them from your back. I'm not a politician so I cannot promise anything; however, I do have some Texas experience here. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Barry Finn
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 08:40 PM

"I have cancelled all live performances until I can work out some type of amicable agreement with ASCAP, BMI and SECSAC"

So you have to deal with all 3?? Dealing with 1 is not enough?

And if you pay the fees how do you know that, as Peace says above, that they'll pay the copyright holders??

Barry


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 09:10 PM

Generally, for major concerts, set lists are supposed to be filed. I have had no first hand dealings with this, but I would think that, if, say, Peace, knows that his songs have been played in concerts by a major artist, he can ask ASCAP to look into the documentation that the venues has provided, and, if there is a discrepancy, have ASCAP straightened it out.

You do have to be a member of ASCAP, and you do need to register your songs, in order to collect, but ASCAP acts on behalf of the songwriter in dealing with performers and the venues.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 09:40 PM

You don't know, Barry. Once they find you, find out you present any kind of music at all, they just send you a bill, all three of them, and you pay up or spend your precious time trying to figure out why.

Dani


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Peace
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 10:12 PM

What kind of bucks we be talkin' about?


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 01:46 AM

This is not as it was before. Just a few decades ago we played our music and paid the rent, got more gigs and paid the taxes, and on and on -- for 40 years. Nobody ever thought about it. We figured if anything was wrong with the way we did it, someone would say something. Left unthought about, and therefore, unspoken, was the feeling that, if anything was wrong with the way we all operated, it was usually just easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Many of us came to folk music feeling we were like the fur trappers of old in the Rocky Mountains. We had thoroughly negative feelings about morality cops of all kinds and authority figures who demanded this kind of cash from you just for doing gigs and house concerts like they were always done.. We were on our own hook and we were making an actual living "without working" --- and we were proud of that fact. ( By that I mean that MY MUSIC never, ever, was work. I did it for love, and therefore, had no choice. ;-)) Addictions are hard to get past.

But I digress.

Staying small-time, in any show-biz sense, while being immersed in the big folk subculture of the 1960s and 19770s--even the '80s---thirty solid years flying below any radar like these organizations was the way to go for me.

In 1981 we had a Folksingers Rendezvous modeled after those old fur trade gatherings of the 1820s. We met in the woods near Stevens Point, Wisconsin and founded HEY RUBE -- an organization that we hoped might allow us to get health care insurance. Utah was there--Sparky and Kuddie and Pop and Haywire Brack and Rosalee and Jan --- many more--and me too. I firmly feel that the seeds planted there eventually became the Folk Alliance; alas, most of the good intentions have given way to bureaucracy and hugeness where, it seems to me, the music plays second fiddle to the machinery of "the business" --- much like the good intentions of ASCAP and BMI etc. are being mutated into unforeseen growths on the body of the beast.

I'm not sure I've said what I meant to say. It's late and my MS keeps me a bit muddled as the day wanes. But this is a serious topic. I don't think these organizations understand the way we always did business within our subculture in times before! And to see them having the law with them as they demand money from shoestring operations doing our music FOR LOVE---well, all I can say is that it all makes me very angry---and rather nauseous.

There is a good chance I never would've said all this if I was still active musically and would lose out my telling the truth of it.

As I'm fond of saying, "Some people have tact, and others tell the truth!"

Good night, and love to all,

Art


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 01:47 AM

It costs $25 bucks to join ASCAP--one time fee. You can do it online--the amount of money that you make depends on how many songs you have out there, and how much they get played.   I used to have all the numbers, but times have changed--I do know that the songwriter cut of a music download is about 9 cents (and also that Apple and the RIAA, have asked for that to be cut). If someone has a triple platinum album, with ten songs on it, it could be pretty good.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 01:51 AM

Thanks for that post, Art--


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Barry Finn
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 02:49 AM

I belong to BMI.
So I'm sitting in a session & someone sings one of my songs (it's happened once), I'm supposed to get paid????? Nine cents??? From who & how the hell do they know??? And to who do I say "give up my 9 cents" too.
Sounds to me that only the biggies get anything & the multi-littles support the blood-letting-part of business.

Barry


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,crazy little woman
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 10:49 AM

'It costs $25 bucks to join ASCAP--one time fee.'

That's if you are a composer, author or publisher. Years ago I filled out a form for a not-for-profit. We did six concerts a year with audiences of 200-300. The ASCAP fee was at least $200 per year. We just told them we did public domain music and never paid anything.

By the way, at that time, the band could do a ASCAP number if they were ALSO selling media (tapes, CD,'s) that had the song. Apparently getting the permission to record the song also covered getting permission to perform it. Makes sense.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 11 Aug 08 - 01:37 PM

Does the Harry Fox Agency collect ASCAP fees for public performances also or only for recorded material?

                                              SOL


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Dani
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 06:36 AM

http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Music/08/12/allman.brothers.ap/index.html

Here's what you REALLY need to worry about, y'all.

And Barry, don't think I wouldn't pay to have a ringtone of your singing : )

Dani


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Barry Finn
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 10:28 AM

Dani, you're a real sweetie, you can ring my tones when ever it please you, no charge for downloading (ouch).

Barry


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: curmudgeon
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 03:18 PM

As i understand it, the way that ASCAP divvies up the money is by the hours of airplay that songs get - the more hours your song gets played, the more money you get. Of course the heaviest monitoring of the airwaves occurs on weekdays. Now when do most folk and acoustic performers get airplay? On the weekends of course. Its just another well intentioned-but gone bad capitalist scheme to keep the bulk of the money in the hands of the few - Tom


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 03:36 PM

Years ago, when I was a regular performer at Ireland's Own in Alexandria, VA, the ASCAP/BMI guys came in and told the owner, Pat Troy, that he had to pay the ASCAP/BMI fees.

Hard-nosed Irishman that he is, Pat bluntly refused and told them that his performers only did traditional Irish music.

The boyos came in to a couple of my shows and another guy's performance, armed with notepad and cassette recorder. Unbeknownst to us, of course.

Well, myself and the other performer don't do 100% Irish trad; we throw in covers, parodies, requests and anything else we can think of.

So having taped our shows and noted all the non-trad cover songs, they came back to the owner with the evidence.
After a bout of yelling and cussing and threats of lawsuits back and forth, Pat agreed to pay the fees.

I believe the fees are based on capacity, but I may be wrong.

A bar/club/restaurant also has to pay even if they don't have live music. A juke-box, CD player, boombox, radio and TV requires the permit too.

Peace, the well-known performer who sang your song is not required to pay you for singing it at festivals, clubs or on radio and TV. It is the responsibility of the venue to send ASCAP/BMI a song list, and then ASCAP/BMI are suppose to pay you.

The well-known performer IS obligated to pay you royalties if he RECORDS your song. I hope does, and that you make a million, or at least a few grand - you deserve it, man.

Hope this helps.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 03:50 PM

Increasingly, the royalty payments can be keyed to actual airplay--to what degree they actually are is probably up for grabs, but it is better than it used to be. BMI and ASCAP royalty payment systems are different--the nine cents is specifically the royalty for an internet download--

Large venues actually submit concerts playlists so that royalties can be paid, licensing revenues from smaller venues are distributed based on a formula. If you feel like you not receiving payments that you are entitled to, specifically, if you feel that a venue isn't reporting properly, you can have a conversation with BMI or ASCAP, and they will work to get it straightened out--

A lot of money payed out in royalties by ASCAP/BMI, and, by and large it goes to the people whose songs are played and listened to the most--I wish I'd figured out how to write and promote songs that sold triple platinum, and that then got turned into ringtones, because those people do make a lot of money, and for doing the exact same work that all the rest of us songwriters do;-)


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: DebC
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 04:02 PM

Harry Fox(AFAIK)only collects fees for mechanical licenses. That's if you record someone else's song for commercial purposes.

This ASCAP/BMI stuff has been going on for so long now, that it may start having it's own category in Snopes. There is a lot of mis-information out there about the fees, how much venues have to pay, who has to pay, what kind of music is exempt, etc. The house concert exemption has been the first step in dealing with the PROs and I do hope there will be more ground gained in this area.

I am NOT being an apologist for the PROs by any means. But because I don't perform "original material" I have a lot of doors closed in my face, even when I let venues know that I can *in confidence* perform ALL public domain material. The venues should be paying PRO fees, period. Small non-profit venues either should have the fees waived or be charged a much smaller rate than a large capacity bar or restaurant or concert hall. That has been the bone of contention with the fees and I do believe Folk Alliance has been addressing this.

But a venue that says "original music only" isn't really getting around paying the fees; just putting off the inevitable.

What it boils down to is venues being educated and knowing what their rights ARE where the PROS are concerned. There have been some good suggestions made above and I do know of many venues who were able to negotiate with the PROs for reasonable fees that fit the type of venue they are. I do agree that the PRO's tactics in some regions are pretty awful and the payment of royalties to artists in our genre is abysmal (Chuck Brodsky has A LOT to say about this).

If you take a look at the archives of the Folk Music discussion lists (Folk Alliance, FolkVenue, FolkBiz, even Folk DJ-L) you will find that a lot of bandwidth has been used over the years discussing this issue. If you find a posting from Mark Moss, Joel Mabus or Tom Neff, pay attention. Them's knows of which they speak and I have a lot of respect for any of those three when they write something.

Just my $.02

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 04:13 PM

And, because, chips fall as they may, I like to keep things real, I am going to throw out a point that may ruffle a few feathers here--

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of "folk clubs" of one kind or another. Most don't pay licensing fees, and the ones asked try to avoid it, and regard it a a moral affront that they've been asked--

However, the bottom line is that Barry Finn, and Bruce Murdock, and dozens, if not hundreds of other of the folks who write the songs we sing and play in our folk clubs don't collect any money for the performance of their songs, because folk clubs don't and won't pay licensing fees.

This the way we generally look at this issue at Mudcat, but maybe we should start to re-think it.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 04:44 PM

I meant to say that this is not the way we generally look at this issue at Mudcat, but that maybe we should start to re-think it.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 05:07 PM

Sorry, crossed posted with, and missed DebC and Seamus' posts, which made my point, and better--


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: DebC
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 05:25 PM

Ted wrote:


I might be wrong, but I do believe that the reason that most musicians like Bruce and Barry, etc don't get paid isn't because the venues don't pay fees. It's because the PROs fee payment is based on radio play and as Tom mentioned above, the PROs don't monitor folk music radio. They monitor commercial radio, so artists played on those stations are the ones that get paid.

My hat is off to WFMT radio, however. Whenever I perform on Folkstage, Rich Warren wants a set list as they have an agreement with the PROS. So, I know that when I perform copyrighted material on Folkstage (or if someone gets played on "Midnight Special" those artists do get royalties.

Please correct me if I am wrong in any of this.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: DebC
Date: 12 Aug 08 - 06:27 PM

Oops, I tried to quote M. Ted up there.

Deb


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Stringsinger
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 03:32 PM

This is a good case for venues to offer "traditional" material instead of singer/songwriters
that are covered under ASCAP. The last time ASCAP became too powerful and interfered
with the dispensation of music, BMI was born.

The time has come for ASCAP to recognize that their hard-nosed approach does nothing
to help the struggling songwriter. They are inappropriately targeting venues that try
to keep live music going. If you are interested in traditional folk music, you should be
very worried that ASCAP doesn't want to recognize PD material. It hits them in the pocketbook.

Solution: put a ban on ASCAP songs. Write your own or revive PD material. That's what
the broadcasters did and this is where BMI was born.

ASCAP already makes a lot of money from the media airplay and mechanicals from
recording companies. They need to give small venue owners keeping music alive
a break.

Frank


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Barry Finn
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 03:49 PM

BMI is free to join

Barry


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Aug 08 - 05:06 PM

Tom Paxton, Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey are all ASCAP songwriter. Do you want to ban their music and "hit them in the pocketbook"?

And there aren't many people who perform exclusively traditional and public domain material, often, even when they claim, or believe that they do. People have a right to profit from their own creative work, and, at the very least, they have a right to choose what, when, and whether their work is performed for free.

The fact that someone feels that they are "keeping music alive" doesn't entitle them to do what they want with the artistic works of someone else.

However,the PROs concentrate on the big money stuff, broadcast, film, popular recordings, internet downloads, etc. And they don't pay much attention to live entertainment, unless it is on a big-money scale.

If someone wants to do something that is really constructive, they should sit down with ASCAP and set up a special schedule of licensing fees that are appropriate for "folk" venues.

There would be a number of songwriters who would suddenly start to get a few bucks, and a lot of folk venues who finally would have a seat at the table.

And, business being business, the PROs would start investing some of their resources in helping to build up the "live folk music venue" sector. It happens like that.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: GUEST,Mj
Date: 13 Sep 10 - 02:42 PM

We own a bar that is attached to a restaurant. ASCAP has informed us that if we play live music in the "bar" we need to pay them (ASCAP) based on the capacity of both the bar AND the restaurant. Is this right? We never play music in the restaurant other then the background music taht we are already licensed to play.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Suffet
Date: 13 Sep 10 - 03:02 PM

Guest MJ,

Meet with their agent, or better yet have your attorney meet with their agent, and offer to work something out. Their initial demand is just a bargaining position, and both ASCAP and BMI are often willing to compromise as long as they believe their interests are protected.

Best of luck.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Arkie
Date: 13 Sep 10 - 04:51 PM

Haven't talked to an ASCAP rep in a few years but here is what I was told way back then.

If you pay them, then you can play one song or a hundred. You pay them by the seat and they do not negotiate terms.

Fees paid for live performances are NOT shared with the writers. This was mentioned early in the thread but many contributors seem to have missed that fact. If one of Bruce Murdock's songs is played in a live performance, the venue pays a fee but Bruce does not see a penny. If one of his songs is played 10,000 times in live performances, he still does not see a penny. Wonder why the licensing agencies are so anxious to get fees from live performance venues?

The impression I get is that the method of monitoring media favors major artists. Does media that favors folk and non-traditional music get monitored? Are Independent recording companies monitored? If Indies pay licensing fees is there any method of determining payment to writers of songs recorded?


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Sep 10 - 12:19 AM

I was a DJ at a college radio station when I was a student AGES ago. This was a really tiny station. Our only "antenna" was the electrical wiring in the dorms. You could only pick up the station if you had a radio that was plugged into that wiring. And there were only 2000 students at that college, most of whom weren't listening.

Yet we ran everything by the book. We logged every single song that we played, on paper—we had no computers in those days. Name of artist, title of song, title of album, label and catalog number of album, date and time that the song was played.

I didn't have a clue back then what the purpose of the logs was, but I think I do now. I believe they were periodically turned in to ASCAP and BMI, and were used by them, along with logs from every other station, big or small, to compile the statistics which determined how the money they collected would be divided up. And I believe our license (which is, after all, a contract) with ASCAP and BMI required us to keep these logs and turn them in.

I've heard that juke boxes also keep a count of how many times each song is played, and this information also gets reported to ASCAP and BMI. (Maybe not all juke boxes, maybe just a statistically significant sample of them?)

So I think it's misleading to say "Fees paid for live performances are NOT shared with the writers." I think the truth is, small live-music venues are not required to log the songs they play (I'll bet the 40,000-seat stadiums do), and so performing a song in a live venue does not DIRECTLY result in a payment to the writer. Instead, the PROs simply assume that songs are being played in those non-reporting venues in the same proportion that they are being played on radio stations and the bigger venues, and they apportion their royalties accordingly.

So the money that is collected from live venues DOES get paid to writers—it's just that it might not be the correct writers.

So if you write a song that is ONLY played in live venues and NEVER played on the radio, then you won't receive any money from ASCAP or BMI. But if your song IS played on the radio, then you will receive a proportional share of the money that is collected from the radio stations AND from the live venues.

And it's not true that only the big commercial stations are counted. Of course they count MORE because they have bigger audiences, but the small college and public stations are counted, too, in proportion to the size of their audience.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: beeliner
Date: 14 Sep 10 - 01:46 AM

I've heard that juke boxes also keep a count of how many times each song is played, and this information also gets reported to ASCAP and BMI. (Maybe not all juke boxes, maybe just a statistically significant sample of them?)

That is true; however, even if no royalties were involved, the juke box operator needs that information to determine which songs to keep and which to replace, based on number of plays.

There was a similar thread a few months back complaining that royalties were driving a dance studio out of business. The amount they were required to pay averaged less than two bucks a day! Gimme a break! How much do they charge hourly, per student, for dancing lessons?


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: open mike
Date: 14 Sep 10 - 02:22 AM

$2 a day? that is $730 every year (if they hold classes 365 days/year)
that is a chunk of change...and they may not charge hourly, but monthly or for a series of lessons...

and is it different if they have recorded music, or live music?
some dance studios have a pianist...so do they have to pay Chopin
if they play his music?? or his heirs, or what/?!

i would like to think that the $ came back to the musicians...
so, does anyone have a check that has come to them from royalties?

please say someone has !!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: beeliner
Date: 14 Sep 10 - 02:34 AM

i would like to think that the $ came back to the musicians...
so, does anyone have a check that has come to them from royalties?

please say someone has !!


Do you mean musicians or songwriters? I have never met or known a songwriter who has complained or suspected that s/he was being cheated by the licensing agency.

What the musicians are paid for performing the music, live or recorded, is, as far as I know, a matter between them and their employers, within union guidelines where applicable.

It seems to me, as it did in the other thread, that the only people complaining here are those who want a free lunch.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP Hassles
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Sep 10 - 11:37 AM

Another story, from many years ago: I once sat at a table with some rowdy semi-drunk people in a café that had live musicians. The music, if I remember correctly, was lively Scandinavian accordion music (This is Minnesota, after all.)—polskas, hambos, etc.—and some people at my table got the idea they wanted to dance. There was no dance floor as such, so they got up and danced in the space between the tables.

The manager came over and politely told them they had to stop because, he said, "we don't have a dancing license."

There was some consternation at our table because no one had ever heard of a "dancing license" and we thought maybe the manager was pulling our leg or just being a jerk.

Looking back, I now infer that the PROs have different levels of licenses, and they charge more for venues that allow customers to dance.

I suppose there is no limit on the kinds of licenses they theoretically might sell, and the kinds of restrictions they might put on each kind. It's all just a matter of what marketing strategy they want to pursue.


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