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ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs

michaelr 25 Jul 09 - 02:56 PM
alanabit 25 Jul 09 - 03:17 PM
Don Firth 25 Jul 09 - 04:29 PM
Peace 25 Jul 09 - 04:58 PM
curmudgeon 25 Jul 09 - 05:10 PM
Rapparee 25 Jul 09 - 05:10 PM
alanabit 25 Jul 09 - 05:33 PM
GUEST 07 Aug 09 - 07:31 PM
sciencegeek 08 Aug 09 - 07:30 PM
Peace 08 Aug 09 - 07:31 PM
Deckman 08 Aug 09 - 08:21 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Aug 09 - 05:27 PM
Michael Harrison 09 Aug 09 - 10:21 PM
Don Firth 09 Aug 09 - 10:55 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Aug 09 - 12:10 PM
michaelr 10 Aug 09 - 03:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 09 - 04:38 PM
JedMarum 10 Aug 09 - 05:26 PM
JedMarum 10 Aug 09 - 05:32 PM
JedMarum 10 Aug 09 - 05:35 PM
JedMarum 10 Aug 09 - 06:31 PM
michaelr 10 Aug 09 - 09:10 PM
M.Ted 10 Aug 09 - 10:17 PM
M.Ted 10 Aug 09 - 10:28 PM
JedMarum 10 Aug 09 - 10:39 PM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Aug 09 - 10:44 PM
Eve Goldberg 10 Aug 09 - 11:10 PM
Michael Harrison 11 Aug 09 - 12:07 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 11 Aug 09 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,Bill Hudson 11 Aug 09 - 10:57 AM
M.Ted 11 Aug 09 - 11:31 AM
Midchuck 11 Aug 09 - 11:47 AM
JedMarum 11 Aug 09 - 11:59 AM
Seamus Kennedy 11 Aug 09 - 12:18 PM
Art Thieme 11 Aug 09 - 07:00 PM
Art Thieme 11 Aug 09 - 07:05 PM
Eve Goldberg 11 Aug 09 - 07:45 PM
GUEST,Patty 21 Aug 09 - 11:11 AM
Mark Ross 21 Aug 09 - 11:55 AM
alanabit 21 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,guest 21 Aug 09 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,Jed Marum 21 Aug 09 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 21 Aug 09 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 21 Aug 09 - 04:06 PM
John P 21 Aug 09 - 06:37 PM
M.Ted 22 Aug 09 - 01:12 AM
alanabit 22 Aug 09 - 03:44 AM
stallion 22 Aug 09 - 04:06 AM
Howard Jones 22 Aug 09 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,honeybee 09 Oct 09 - 12:27 PM
GUEST,Jeff 14 Oct 09 - 01:04 PM
Arkie 14 Oct 09 - 01:43 PM
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Subject: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: michaelr
Date: 25 Jul 09 - 02:56 PM

I just found out that my band's little gig at a local brewpub (this is Northern California) has been cancelled because the pub has received a cease-and-desist order and is being sued by ASCAP and BMI for royalties related to music being performed at the pub.

The owner told me, "We don't make money on the live music; most of the time we break even. I don't mind paying these agencies $400 or so per year, as I have been doing, but now they want something on the order of $20,000 annually. There is no way I can pay that." She also said that she had heard of other local venues being pursued in this manner by ASCAP/BMI.

Now, my band rarely performs copyrighted material; most of our repertoire is traditional, therefore does not fall within these agencies' purview. The owner said her lawyer is checking into that aspect, but "a cease-and-desist order means no more live music at all".

To my mind, this is tantamount to a shakedown of small establishments, and could well lead to the demise of the band, which would suck bigtime.

Any thoughts or comments?


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: alanabit
Date: 25 Jul 09 - 03:17 PM

Yes. The same disgraceful system is operating in Germany. The GEMA is actually extorting money from places, which put on gigs, when singer-songwriters are performing their own material. I do not think this outrage is known about by the general public at large. It is also quite clear that at the end of the day, it is damaging the prospects of new performers (and in particular singer-songwriters) beyond measure.
The inevitable consequence of this practice is that either fewer pub owners put on gigs, or else that they insist that the musicians themselves accept the responsibilities as "the organiser". That is why I had to pay a fee of 107 Euros for our gig in Lennep earlier this year. (The legal implications of this are dangerous too, because it could mean that the band would be liable for any accidents or injury to third parties). To add insult to injury, they (GEMA) sent me a form to claim for a portion of this fee back - as if offering thirty pieces of silver to musicians somehow made this disgraceful practice any more legitimate.
When songs are known on a commercial scale, I can just about understand that some royalties have to get back to the writers. However, the very idea that singer-songwriters should be entitled to claim extra money for playing their own material is nothing short of a scandal.
Bands playing traditional material should be left alone altogether. In view of the way that those greedy bastards in the publishing industry closed down most of the internet radio at a stroke three or four years ago, I hope they rot in Hell.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Jul 09 - 04:29 PM

Has anyone checked into the "legitimacy" of these outfits? This sounds a bit like an echo from the past.

In the early 1960s, along with college concerts locally and occasional educational television, most of the singing I did was in coffeehouses. Seattle had some nice ones. They provided steady work and they paid, not much compared to night clubs and such, but it was regular and reliable. Also, people didn't come to drink (except fancy overpriced coffees), they came to hear the singer.

I had a friend, Bob Weymouth, who was singing at an upscale cocktail lounge cum night club (Clark's Red Carpet). Bob told me that they had guys dropping in from time to time, claiming to be from either ASCAP or BMI, and demanding that Norman Clark pay them royalties for the songs that Bob was singing. Bob accompanied himself on the guitar and sang a whole variety of songs:   a few folk songs, but mostly pop stuff, country, show tunes, novelty songs, the whole gamut—lots of copyrighted material. They wanted someone to keep track of every song that Bob sang so they could bill Clark's Red Carpet for the copyrighted songs.

Clark told them that Bob didn't pre-plan his sets and he couldn't be interrupting his performances to be making lists, his waitresses and bartenders were too busy, and so was he. So if they wanted to keep track of what Bob was singing, they'd have to send their own person in to keep an itemized list of songs. The alleged ASCAP/BMI representative shouted, hissed, spit, made lots of threats, and then stomped out, never to be heard from again—until the next one came along. And none of them had any identification or credentials that proved they actually were from ASCAP or BMI.

Bob asked me if the coffeehouses were having any problems like this. I told him that, so far, they weren't. And it really wouldn't do much good. Assuming that it actually was ASCAP or BMI, all the coffeehouse singers in Seattle sang folk, and all that singers like me would have to do was stick strictly to traditional, public domain material, dropping songs like "Try to Remember" or "They Call the Wind Mariah" that audience members would occasionally request (having heard them on Kingston Trio or Brothers Four records), and there would be no royalties to collect.

It sounds like the guys you're having to deal with might be the real thing—but the idea that they want to nick you for performing your own material or anything in the public domain. . . .    it seems to me that this could be successfully contested in the courts. I'd like to see something like that happen, make some case law, and stop this kind of crap once and for all.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Peace
Date: 25 Jul 09 - 04:58 PM

That would be the day I get nicked for doing my own songs.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: curmudgeon
Date: 25 Jul 09 - 05:10 PM

My old friend, Harvey Reid, who wrote this article in 1993 admits that it may be a bit dated. Otherwise, it's well researched and has a lot of insight - Tom


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Rapparee
Date: 25 Jul 09 - 05:10 PM

Well, poop! I've got Spook Handy and somebody named Bob or Horatio or something Nelson coming to sing at the Library in September. We're trying to get them gigs locally and so far have been succeeding (we're getting the Nelson character a gig at the library in Couer d'Alene as well).

And what about the Children's Librarian playing the piano for the kids' Story Hours? Or the local symphony director using the Library for some of his students' recitals?

The whole thing is getting stupid -- a bunch of greed-heads who by their actions are going to put themselves out of business! Talk about cutting your own throat!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: alanabit
Date: 25 Jul 09 - 05:33 PM

Not only did I have to pay 107 Euros (ca.$150), I was warned that they had the "right" to charge me double that if I failed to report a gig in the future!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Aug 09 - 07:31 PM

These small clubs do not make any money. The songs they do should be accepted as a compliment. They sell records and radio air play. That's enough, and by the way, I am a musician.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: sciencegeek
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 07:30 PM

This kind of behavior keeps rearing its ugly head over the years... ASCAP tried the same thing on not-for -profit folk organizations that sponsored concerts. And more $$$ goes to the execs and lawyers than to the artists whose material is supposedly being protected.

It's the same greed that turned the golden egg laying goose into pate de foie gras....

Artists need venues to perform & perfect their art... and paying few bills along the way doesn't hurt either. But the industry seems to feel artists and their supporters are cash cows to milked dry.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Peace
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 07:31 PM

Hear, hear.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Deckman
Date: 08 Aug 09 - 08:21 PM

Hey Rapaire ...I can promise to sing ONLY songs of my own composure ... but it'll be a short concert!

Actually, I'd LOVE to get challenged at a concert. I haven't had a chance to get even with anything since the time the hogs ate my kid sister ... didn't miss her for a week! CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 05:27 PM

There was an accordion music festival (mostly trad & self co0mposed) - sat & sun afternoon - about 300 people - the Aussie mob of extortionists demanded somewhere between $600 - $1000. They didn't want any lists - 'just pay up or see you in court'.

No event now...

It's the 'lawyers' and the "collection agents" who get most of the money, thus justifying their existence and salary.


"Come the revolution, first thing, we shoot all the lawyers."


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Michael Harrison
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 10:21 PM

It is always so funny to me when this stuff comes around. In a nutshell, in the USA - and that includes Northern California - ASCAP, BMI, etc., has the right to collect money from folks who run business establishments and use their client's music/songs in an effort to generate income. It doesn't matter if the effort is successful or not - you use it, you pay - period.

Knowledgable club/pub owners know how to get around the bush and deal with the agents. I, for one, do not believe for an instant that a clubs annual fee has gone from $400 to $20K - that is just nonsense - there's something else going on there that the owner is not talking about. If you want to find out how it all boils down, go to an ASCAP or BMI office, go in and ask them to explain it to you; it's really not all that hard to figure out. You may not agree with certain aspects of what they do, or how they do it, but they have the right to do it. Pub owners don't want to pay it, but hey, they don't want to pay us either. Cheers,.......mwh


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 10:55 PM

Michael, please explain to me how ASCAP and/or BMI have the right to collect royalites, or any other kind of fee, from an employer of mine if the only songs I sing are traditional folk songs--in the public domain. Or if the songs I sing are ones I've written myself.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 12:10 PM

' I, for one, do not believe for an instant that a clubs annual fee has gone from $400 to $20K - that is just nonsense - there's something else going on there that the owner is not talking about.'

Michael, you speak much sense. I don't believe it either.

michaelr, you have my sympathy, but be warned. I believe there's more going on here than meets the eye.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: michaelr
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 03:24 PM

"...there's something else going on there that the owner is not talking about."

That may well be the case, but I am still at a loss to see what business it is of these agencies where performers of traditional or original material are concerned.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 04:38 PM

Original material is their business if it is copyright.

"The owner told me"- He may have thought up the 20,000 because he doesn't want the music any more. Perhaps most of his patrons prefer quiet conversation.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: JedMarum
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:26 PM

We've gone over this before here at MC - but it is worth discussing again.

In the US, the practice is meant to collect royalties that are paid to publishing members of the organizations. They demand payment from all public places that play music; jukebox, TV, radio and live music - and they base the rate they demand based upon the seating capacity.

ASCAP, BMI and SESAC pay their royalties based upon sampling of music on the public airwaves, web, TV and presumably live performance. The funds they collect is meant to reimburse the composer/publisher for his license fee.

I don't know anything about the rates. I know some small venues decline to make the payments and choose forgo live performance. Fair enough. Assuming the rates are reasonable, the practice is like any other tax or license fee.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: JedMarum
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:32 PM

I know the practice is not very accurate. I am a member of ASCAP as a performer and as a publisher. I know my published songs play on the radio pretty widely and regularly and my songs are played as well by a few folks in public venues. I have not received payment of any license fee for these performances - and I am NOT surprised. That is because my music plays in the comparatively small world of Folk/Bluegrass and Celtic. We do not have large audiences and so my "sampled" plays have not reached a high enough multiplier. No worries, though. I am happy it plays at all and I suspect someday it'll catch up to me.

;-)


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: JedMarum
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:35 PM

And why do they demand fees paid from venues where performers play only original music?

They would claim that it is extremely unlikely that a venue where music is performed will be absolute in NOT performing published material. If a venue made that argument, all ASCAP or BMI would have to do is sit in for every show until one performer sang one published song (Happy Birthday) and then they would have all they needed for a law suit.

Most venues back down and pay the rate.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: JedMarum
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 06:31 PM

Just to clarify my satement above "I have not received payment of any license fee for these performances"

I have accrued royalty fees for radio and TV broadcasts. But I have NOT accrued fees for the performances of my songs in the live venues, which is what the topic of this thread is. Those fees, if I ever get any will come from the funds collected from these venues and will be based upon the sample data.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: michaelr
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 09:10 PM

"Original material is their business if it is copyright."

But it's MY original material!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:17 PM

If a club pays ASCAP/BMI licesnsing fees, there's nothing to sue for, because they've already paid the royalties. No judge would order them to "cease and desist" something they've been licensed to do.

I think there is more to the story, and you were told what you were told so you'd be angry at ASCAP and BMI, and not the owner who cancelled your gig.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:28 PM

Simple way to cut to the chase--ask to see the "cease and desist" letter, and ask to see the complaint that ASCAP/BMI has filed against the club.

If you get them, show them your own lawyer, and ask them what's really going on.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: JedMarum
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:39 PM

michaelr it's not your original material the ASCAP police are worried about. It's the one cover song you or the next guy plays. Their argument is that if live music is played in a venue, at some point and they would argue sooner rather then later, someone will play material that is published through their organization.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:44 PM

They may not actually be from ASCAP or BMI. See earlier posts.

The bar owner may be making the whole thing up. Could be she just doesn't want live music anymore and but doesn't have the guts to say so.

Somebody could be twisting her arm. There's a lot of graft in the liquor business.

Keep an open mind.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 11:10 PM

The Folk Alliance is in the process of negotiating some arrangements with ASCAP and BMI for house concerts, small coffeehouses, and non-profit volunteer music presenting organizations.

They've already announced an agreement for house concerts and I think they are about to start the negotiations for small venues.

People who are interested in finding out more should contact the Folk Alliance: http://www.folk.org


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Michael Harrison
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 12:07 AM

Don Firth - ASCAP/BMI, etc. do not have the right to collect royalties from your employer who hires you to sing only "trad" songs that are in the public domain. I believe Jed Marum stated above that the copyright organizations are running on the assumption that if a venue of any kind is operating with music as part of its ambiance, then at some point they are going to be using copyrighted material from the clients they represent.

Right? Wrong? Who's to say; but, if the place you are performing at insists that all of the music presented at its facility is either public domain or belongs to the specific performer in question, then it falls upon the shoulders of ASCAP/BMI to prove otherwise, which they will try to do over an extended period of time by periodically monitoring and documenting the music being presented on the premises - which leads us back to my comment about the experienced pub owner who "knows his way around the bush." Cheers,...................mwh


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 09:59 AM

In my geographical area the owners deal with this (assuming they don't choose to pay up and become full-fledged on-the-up-and-up music venues) by insisting on "original singer-songwriter material only."
Apparently the reasoning is that it is much easier to defend ownership of a song one has written than to research (not to mention prove) non-ownership of a traditional song -- especially considering how many popularly thought of as trad songs are owned by someone.
The result is the same for a singer of traditional folk. If it isn't yours, you have a devil of a time finding somewhere to sing it.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,Bill Hudson
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 10:57 AM

The way things are now a days its not easy for club owners and performers. As a BMI member I might be getting a check in the mail if the song starts to break out and I think songwriters should be paid for their work.
That being said there should be some common sense to clubs being made to pay so much. When I have been in Italy you have to after your gig write down each song you sang that night. So I had an idea ...lets see what would happen if I put in a friend who lives in Italy and is a songwriter his songs. And as far as we know he never got a dine.
Songwriters should be paid for their work but BMI or ASCAP should not put clubs out of the live music business.
Still Pickin'
B.H.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 11:31 AM

BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC receive literally hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf others and are responsible for collecting it, holding it, and distributing it, without regulation or oversight of any kind. Each handles it in very different ways, so different that the amount of money an artist receives from each is completely different.

I ran across a writing team, one of whom belonged to ASCAP, the other to BMI--one received twice as much money in royalty payments as the other, for the same song!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 11:47 AM

Foolestroupe: "Come the revolution, first thing, we shoot all the lawyers."

Huh? That would include me! What the hell did I do?

Threatening killing of other Mudcatters whose life history you don't even know seems inconsistent with the usual goals of this list.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: JedMarum
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 11:59 AM

maybe he should have said, most of the lawyers!

;-)

... just kidding, of course!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 12:18 PM

Even if a venue doesn't have 'Live" music, if it only has a jukebox, CD player, radio or TV playing, it must have a BMI/ASCAP license to do so here in the States.

And unless I'm way off base, the cost of the license is decided by the number of seats in the place.

For most small venues, it's a couple of hundred dollars a year.

So $20,000 seems a bit high for a small joint to pay.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 07:00 PM

According to a notice I received from the Folk Alliance within the last few days, the F.A. has struck an accord with ASCAP and BMI. The gist of their e-mail seemed to be that any house concert put on by a F.A. member will not face being charged by these two organizations.

I will leave it to someone with the particulars to explain better what is going down.

I also suspect there will be numerous questions/loopholes/interpretations/fine-print/whatever to learn about before this is well understood by anyone.

Louis Myers at the Folk Alliance deserves some accolades and thanks if this works out well. At least, it could be, hopefully, a first step!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 07:05 PM

Eve,
I missed your earlier post. Sorry.

Art


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 07:45 PM

Hey that's okay. The more the information is spread around, the better!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,Patty
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 11:11 AM

I'm getting harassment letters and having Bill Veazey, Jr. drop by in person to drop off a pre-printed agreement with my name and coffee house info. on it, demanding the annual fee of $332 for the local musicians to play at my small coffee house. This person is threatening me with pursuing legal means if I were to still have Live Music Nights. I think I will ask for the "Auditors" as Bill called the people who randomly shows up during these rare nights that I actually have LIVE music, to provide me with the printouts of songs that they have licenses for, and will ask my "up and coming" local bands to not play those songs. It's like "Licensing Mafia"!


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Mark Ross
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 11:55 AM

Check out Elizabeth Scarboroughs' THE PHANTOM BANJO trilogy. It tells how this is all a plot by Satan to make our lives miserable.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: alanabit
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 12:09 PM

The simplest way out would be for the musicians en masse to tell ASCAAP, BMI, PRS and GEMA etc to stop this whole ludicrous nonsense of collecting royalties for live music altogether. The is no moral justification whatsoever for musicians to demand extra money for playing their own material. There is even less sense in it. It inevitably leads to there being fewer gigs available. The way out for the venue holders is simply to name the musicians as the organisers. This results in us getting the bill. There is no way that a collection agency can get more money back to the musicians than has been collected. Their own overheads eat most of the money. And no one benifits. It ends up effectively being no more than a job creation scheme for the collection agencies. It is wrong in principle and unworkable in practice. The sooner it is stopped the better off we will all be.
And no I do not claim back for live gigs - even when I have had to pay. It would be hypocritical to condemn this foul practice and then take back thirty pieces of silver as a backhander.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 01:03 PM

Has anyone looked into a fair use exception for certain performances when a non-profit organization / organizer is involved?


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,Jed Marum
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 03:03 PM

OK - I understand the anger at being asked to pay "tax" for the right to operate a music venue - but understand; that tax is paying into the fund that pays ME (and other members), royalties for artists performing MY (OUR) songs. It is meant to be an equatable means of collecting funds to pay our royalties.

If it were up to me, I would forgo royalty payment from such small venues - but a $332/year fee is pretty modest. I'll bet your light bill is much higher.

I have been asked many many times by artists if they can have my permission to sing my songs. The truth is, most of songs are published - and they do not NEED my permission to perform them for money - or for free. It is presumed that the publishing rights orgs (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC) will calculate and collect the royalty fees for live and for broadcast performances of those songs. They make those calculations based upon sampling.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 03:29 PM

I've looked into this at length and I think I can answer a few of the points. (Insert standard "I am not a lawyer" disclaimer here.)

Guest guest, the exemptions are very few and very limited. For example, a performance license is not required for performance of a catalogued composition if it is used as part of a bona fide worship service. The exemption does NOT apply if the performance is taped or broadcast outside the immediate worship venue in any way. It also does not cover photocopied song sheets or overhead projectors (that would be a mechanical reproduction license, and those people do NOT have worship service exemptions -- in fact they aggressively go after worship groups for that). Just because the organizer is a non-profit does not qualify them for an exemption.

Guest at 3:01, I'm not sure what your last couple of sentences are getting at. "Most of songs are published"? Publishing is not the issue. The issue is whether the PROs have a composition listed in their catalog, and if they do not have it listed, they have no legal or moral business whatever trying to pry money out of someone for performing it.

Now if they DO have it in their catalog, it is because the composer (copyright owner) has delegated to them the legal right to collect, on the composer's behalf, royalties for each and every public performance. However they seem to be blind to the amorality of collecting license fees from venues on a micro-scale, and then basing their payouts on a macro-sampling scheme that takes no notice at all of said micro-venues. In other words, if I register some little composition of mine with ASCAP, and the only person who ever performs it is me, at small venues, I will never EVER get a penny of any of the supposed license fees back. Michael Jackson's estate and Jon Bonjovi will get what I supposedly earned. What a deal.

And on top of that, there is no real legal or moral justification for collecting license fees when there is no serious likelihood of copyrighted material being performed. "Just in case" someone sings 'Happy Birthday' or something? Rubbish.

-Glenn


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 04:06 PM

Aha, Jed formerly known as Guest, I think I figured out you meant to say "most of MY songs are published." In that light, your last paragraph makes sense... my apologies.
Anyway I still stand by what I said on the topic.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: John P
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 06:37 PM

I used to play every week at a restaurant here in Seattle that refused to pay the ASCAP/BMI fees. The owner made us swear that we would never play anything except traditional material. Back in those days we played a lot of Steeleye Span music, and from time to time an auditor would come in, act like an audience member, and start requesting all the original, copyrighted Steeleye Span songs. Fortunately, the owner had been dealing with these people for so many years that he was usually able to warn us when a spy showed up.

Here's an amazing concept: we live in a world of huge computers and worldwide databases. How hard would it be to get every venue and every radio station to go online and enter song lists that were played? That way, the small-time composers like me would actually get paid something every time one of our songs gets played, and the fees to the venue could be based on actual use of copyrighted material. This whole nonsense about basing the fees on number of seats and paying composers proportionally based on airplay at pop radio stations could go away.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 01:12 AM

JohnP--The problem with changing the collection and payment model, even if it desperately needs to be done, is that people who are now receiving money may experience significant changes in the amount and frequency of the payments that they receive. That's the sort of thing that creates lawsuits.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: alanabit
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 03:44 AM

I can understand the principle of royalties for records and airplay. It seems reasonable for a songwriter or artist to receive a share of the profits if money is changing hands on a commercial scale. At live gigs - unless huge sums of money are being generated - this is not the case at all. Indeed, the expense of collecting the fees far outweighs any potential benefit to songwriters. You are usually only obliged to pay for something, which benefits you directly. It is performers who fill small pubs, clubs and cafés, not songwriters. No wonder the owners of these venues resent paying fees to songwriters! In practice, the cost of collection of royalties for live gigs far outweighs any advantages to us. In fact, it is costing us gigs.
A few months ago I got a statement from GEMA to tell me that I had earned a few cents because someone, somewhere had sung "Never Going to Drink Again". The postage alone cost several times that amount. Someone also had to be paid to collect that information.
Expecting to be paid songwriting royalties from small gigs is akin to a child expecting payment, because his or her picture is up on the wall. Let us just be grateful to get our songs out at all. No one else is making money out of us. It is only sensible to expect financial rewards from songs, which are making money on a commercial scale.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: stallion
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 04:06 AM

My problem with all this is the problem I have with democracy, I f my vote counted for anything I wouldn't have been given it. The money collected, and the principle is fine, the democracy of random sampling means that people who have lots get more and hoi poloi get nothing, so how do the masses out there who's songs are being performed and are getting nothing feel about the big boys taking your share?


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 04:42 AM

We have a similar issue here in the UK with PRS. Part of the difficulty is that these "music industry" models don't really suit the small-scale and informal nature of many folk music performances.

Last night I played at an informal, unplanned session. I can't remember what we played. I don't know the names, far less the copyright status, of half the tunes I led myself, never mind the others. It would be impossible to submit a return, whether in the old paper format or online, and I very much doubt that events like this are ever sampled. The venue still has to pay for a license, but I would be very surprised if any of the copyright holders ever receive a penny from these types of events. However it is events like these which make up a substantial part of the performance of folk music throughout the country.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,honeybee
Date: 09 Oct 09 - 12:27 PM

has anyone won a case and how?


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 14 Oct 09 - 01:04 PM

I just lost a solo guitar gig in Billings, MT beacuse the restaurant got shaken down by BMI. I've been a member of BMI for over 20 years and haven't collected a cent from them, but this is the second gig they've killed for me.


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Subject: RE: ASCAP/BMI killing local gigs
From: Arkie
Date: 14 Oct 09 - 01:43 PM

My understanding of the copyright laws is that licensing companies do not have to pay royalties on live performances. They are permitted to keep 100 per cent of the fees paid from live performance venues. There should be some regulation of the licensing agencies and there should be a revision in the guidelines determining payment formulas. With modern technology it is possibly to track actual media play and sales. I would suspect the proportion of private and independent sales of recordings is much larger than at the time the present formulas were put into place. It is a good thing that Folk Alliance is entering the picture to provide some weight for folk and independent performers and writers.


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