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Help: ASCAP, copyright question

02 Nov 00 - 02:34 AM (#332562)
Subject: Great big, general ASCAP question
From: GUEST,Trinity

Here's a simple basic question for you folks. When does one have to pay ASCAP (I'm assuming that's who you pay) and who exactly has to pay (artist or venue)? I'm a musician just starting out and when I get paying gigs I'll probably want to do some covers. I assume that once I'm being paid, I'll have to pay for the use of the songs (vs. now, where I just perform for free at open mics). Whom do I pay? How much? Or does the venue pay?

Maybe someone here can point me toward a website or something that can answer these sorts of questions. I just realized that maybe I should have looked for an ASCAP site, but someone pointed me this way and I'm too tired to think for myself right now. ;-)

Anyway, any info would be appreciated.

Thanks! Trinity

02 Nov 00 - 03:01 AM (#332564)
Subject: RE: Help: ASCAP, copyright question
From: Pene Azul

Check out the Licensing section (click) of ASCAP's site (click).


02 Nov 00 - 11:48 AM (#332816)
Subject: RE: Help: ASCAP, copyright question
From: Jed at Work

No one will hold you responsible for performing copyrighted material. Most performance venues are ASCAP members (or BMI). Their yearly dues to those organiztions cover the cost of live performance of copyrighted, published materials. The big publishing companies pay out royalties for broadcast performance published materials based upon sampling they do of the airwaves. If they hear your song so many times represented within their sample, then they see that you are paid for the performance of that song based upon that sample rate.

In short, don't sweat it. The clubs pay the publishers through their annual dues. If they don't, the publisher police will kick their door down one day soon, and beat it out of them!

If you want to be doubly sure, and think you may be playing clubs that don't pay their dues, join ASCAP and/or BMI your self. But, the publishiers don't go after performers, they see the clubs as responsible, and have reason to believe they will be more successful leaning on the clubs then on performers.

02 Nov 00 - 02:59 PM (#332937)
Subject: RE: Help: ASCAP, copyright question
From: Stewart

I have a related question. I coordinate an open mic for a non-profit acoustic musician org in Seattle (Victory Music) at a restaurant. Neither performers or restaurant gets any money. Cover charge for non-performers goes to Victory Music. The restaurant is licensed with ASCAP and BMI, but recently received letter from SESAC saying they had to license with them also. I know nothing about SESAC - who do they represent? Most of our performers are singer-songwriters who do their own stuff, but sometimes people sing covers. What should I tell the restaurant owner?

03 Nov 00 - 10:27 AM (#333522)
Subject: RE: Help: ASCAP, copyright question
From: JedMarum

Sesac also has a website, and you might take a look there, BUT; what makes SESAC believe any of the music under thier 'protection' is being played at the club? I suspect it might well be worth the challenge, because I doubt you'll find open mic-ers singing any SESAC material. Generally speaking, this is a protection racket and the publishing organizations throw their weight around through threats and bluffs. The best way to combat that is knowledge. Take a look at the original material listed as published within the SESAC, take a look at the artists within their fold - you will find that there are a handful of specialty songwriters whose original material is protected by SESAC. They are NOT a mainstream organization, and they are not a folk music specific organization. I suspect it is very likely you could run your open mic for years without ever transgressing the SESAC publishing rights.

I would tell the restaraunt owner, if he must respond, that he should tell SESAC that his venue has never performed SESAC material, and never will without him obtaining a license. They won't like it, and will huff and puff, but would likely be hard ressed to prove him wrong, without setting him up.

03 Nov 00 - 10:41 AM (#333534)
Subject: RE: Help: ASCAP, copyright question

Does SESAC license "publishing rights" ? I thought they only licensed performance rights.

03 Nov 00 - 01:22 PM (#333696)
Subject: RE: Help: ASCAP, copyright question
From: Jed at Work

don't know, guest. they are a lesser player in the scheme of things ... as near as I can tell.

04 Nov 00 - 01:41 PM (#334499)
Subject: RE: Help: ASCAP, copyright question
From: Rich(bodhránai gan ciall)

I belong to the Calliope: the Pittsburgh Folk Music Society and serve on several of there committees including concert planning committee. We pay a fee on a per/event basis. I don't know if this because we don't own a venue and rent a hall for our concerts or why.

As far as I can tell a lot of ASCRAP's teeth is just the rollover factor. Big monster ASCRAP(not a typo) comes along and says "Feed me" and presenter's cave in the same way the bank will tack on BS fees to your statement knowing most people won't question it. We periodically make archival tapes when permitted and it's amazing how many times we find that we just paid out $100 dollars for an evening of public domain material or original material by the artists performing. And then regardless of whose material is played the artists who have the most material registered get most of the $$$. In other words, you play "Louie Louie" and the fee goes to Paul McCartney and the estate of John Lennon. Utah Phillips, when he came to perform for us called them the scourge of the music world. (We payed an ascap fee for him to play his own stuff and public domain stuff too!)

At any rate, getting eventually at hand, in our case it's the presenter's responsibility. However, we feature artists with enough bargaining clout that they can dictate policy to us to some extent. For a small unknown performer at an established club it may be different.


04 Nov 00 - 11:46 PM (#334908)
Subject: RE: Help: ASCAP, copyright question
From: JedMarum

ASCAP in particlar will strong arm regular music venues to pay the member license fees. These are paid on a yearly basis. I know some clubs pay BMI, but I have never heard of them using the same pressure on the clubs.