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5DOLLAR-BLEACHERBUM
01-20-2009, 11:05 PM
I own a bar and have live music every saturday night. I have recently started to recieve letters and phone calls from ASCAP wanting me to pay for the rights to the music these bands are covering. Has anyone dealt with this, and what is the best way to handle it. Alot of the bands have told me to ignore it but I would love to hear some advice from someone who has been through it.

VR
01-20-2009, 11:33 PM
I own a bar and have live music every saturday night. I have recently started to recieve letters and phone calls from ASCAP wanting me to pay for the rights to the music these bands are covering. Has anyone dealt with this, and what is the best way to handle it. Alot of the bands have told me to ignore it but I would love to hear some advice from someone who has been through it.

I'm not aware of any way around it....they are pretty nasty

RedFanAlways1966
01-21-2009, 07:28 AM
That is so ridiculous. I'd ignore them.

JaxRed
01-21-2009, 08:10 AM
Why wouldn't the bands be responsible? They are the ones receiving payment for using those songs.

919191
01-21-2009, 08:26 AM
I've just read a thread of emails on a musician's fan's listseerv, and there are both venue owners and artists. They all pretty much said if you pay ASCAP, BMI and a couple others will show up with their hands too. Some blew them off with no repercussions, and some I think backed off and dropped the shows.

nate
01-21-2009, 09:09 AM
Why wouldn't the bands be responsible? They are the ones receiving payment for using those songs.

No. It's the venue owner's responsibility because he's providing the venue that people are paying money to be entertained in.

nate
01-21-2009, 09:14 AM
I own a bar and have live music every saturday night. I have recently started to recieve letters and phone calls from ASCAP wanting me to pay for the rights to the music these bands are covering. Has anyone dealt with this, and what is the best way to handle it. Alot of the bands have told me to ignore it but I would love to hear some advice from someone who has been through it.

It's probably best to consult a lawyer. You might be able to settle with them by simply saying you won't allow cover tunes any longer. You can still have live music but it will have to be all original material.

They can do the same thing if you have a jukebox. When a certain number of people congregate in an entertainment environment and you have music, you have to pay for it.

I once played at a place where the club owner literally stopped us in the middle of a cover tune because he had been caught by BMI.

At least that's why he said he stopped us.

:cool:

PedroBourbon
01-21-2009, 09:47 AM
At least that's why he said he stopped us.

:cool:[/QUOTE]


Good thing you added that, I could see this being teed up for a good shot.

durl
01-21-2009, 10:00 AM
No. It's the venue owner's responsibility because he's providing the venue that people are paying money to be entertained in.

Exactly right.

To the OP, there are exceptions for certain businesses. Things such as square footage and the number of speakers can be factors that determine if you can obtain an exemption.

I would NOT recommend ignoring them. They have a legal right to collect royalties for the songwriters. They're probably not testing you to see if they can get some money. If they want to pursue it further, they can take you to court to force you to pay.

See if you qualify for an exemption. If not, getting an annual license from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC is the right thing to do.

nate
01-21-2009, 10:29 AM
Exactly right.

To the OP, there are exceptions for certain businesses. Things such as square footage and the number of speakers can be factors that determine if you can obtain an exemption.

And number of people. It's similar to the NFL not allowing churches to hold Super Bowl parties. They want a piece of the pie if that many folks are congregating to see their product.


I would NOT recommend ignoring them. They have a legal right to collect royalties for the songwriters. They're probably not testing you to see if they can get some money. If they want to pursue it further, they can take you to court to force you to pay.

See if you qualify for an exemption. If not, getting an annual license from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC is the right thing to do.

Right. It might not be that expensive.

Say what one will about the music industry but those organizations (disclaimer: I'm a member) serve to collect royalties for the people who wrote the songs. Even though it might not make a difference to Bruce Springsteen, it does make a difference to the guy playing a $50 gig at the Station Inn on a Saturday night.

5DOLLAR-BLEACHERBUM
01-21-2009, 11:15 AM
And number of people. It's similar to the NFL not allowing churches to hold Super Bowl parties. They want a piece of the pie if that many folks are congregating to see their product.



Right. It might not be that expensive.

Say what one will about the music industry but those organizations (disclaimer: I'm a member) serve to collect royalties for the people who wrote the songs. Even though it might not make a difference to Bruce Springsteen, it does make a difference to the guy playing a $50 gig at the Station Inn on a Saturday night.
The problem is that the songs that the bands are playing are songs from people like Bruce Springsteen, a cover band playing songs by a guy playing a $50 dollar gig at the station Inn isn't going to attract many listeners to a show. My goal in booking a band is to take in enough money at the door to pay the bands fee, therefore the people who come in to see the band are paying the band to play the music they perform not me.

nate
01-21-2009, 11:37 AM
The problem is that the songs that the bands are playing are songs from people like Bruce Springsteen, a cover band playing songs by a guy playing a $50 dollar gig at the station Inn isn't going to attract many listeners to a show.

My point was that the guy playing $50 dollar gigs could be a co-writer of one of Bruce's songs. Or Garth Brooks, or anyone. I meet these guys all the time at the supermarket and they're not as flush with cash as the "artists" who play their tunes. So if they legally have rights to get paid whenever their song is performed, they should get it.

ASCAP and BMI can get you even if you have a jukebox or a DJ. It doesn't really matter if it's a band.


My goal in booking a band is to take in enough money at the door to pay the bands fee, therefore the people who come in to see the band are paying the band to play the music they perform not me.

There's a difference between paying for the performance and paying for the right to play someone else's material. It's similar to burning a CD, you _paid_ for the blank media to copy on to but you didn't pay for the right to copy the tunes.

I mean, you have some sort of beer dispensing system at your place that you own. You still have to buy beer.

I know, it sucks. It's not a good model. People don't understand the value of intellectual property and the fault is as much the IP owners and their agents as it is technology's.

SunDeck
01-21-2009, 11:41 AM
The problem is that the songs that the bands are playing are songs from people like Bruce Springsteen, a cover band playing songs by a guy playing a $50 dollar gig at the station Inn isn't going to attract many listeners to a show. My goal in booking a band is to take in enough money at the door to pay the bands fee, therefore the people who come in to see the band are paying the band to play the music they perform not me.

I don't know, the band is playing someone else's music, so doesn't it also reside with them to contribute to paying for the intellectual property? It's overhead, just like the gas they buy to cart their stuff to the show and I am sure that if they had a hit song of their own creation they would be happy to have ASCAP pursue their rights to royalties.
At the same time, does ASCAP pursue this equally or do they just try to roll bar owners seem like easy marks?

kaldaniels
01-21-2009, 02:07 PM
How much typically does ASCAP charge for lets say, a night of songs?

nate
01-21-2009, 02:21 PM
I don't know, the band is playing someone else's music, so doesn't it also reside with them to contribute to paying for the intellectual property?

I think the venue owner is responsible since he's the one wanting music. He can, of course, reflect that expense in the band's pay which is probably why most bar gigs suck.


It's overhead, just like the gas they buy to cart their stuff to the show and I am sure that if they had a hit song of their own creation they would be happy to have ASCAP pursue their rights to royalties. At the same time, does ASCAP pursue this equally or do they just try to roll bar owners seem like easy marks?

Dunno what their strategy is but it's probably a lot like a building inspector. If he's in your neighborhood and someone's building something, he's gonna check it out. If you have a permit, cool. If not...

durl
01-21-2009, 02:21 PM
I don't know, the band is playing someone else's music, so doesn't it also reside with them to contribute to paying for the intellectual property? It's overhead, just like the gas they buy to cart their stuff to the show and I am sure that if they had a hit song of their own creation they would be happy to have ASCAP pursue their rights to royalties.
At the same time, does ASCAP pursue this equally or do they just try to roll bar owners seem like easy marks?

The band would pay if they were putting the cover songs on a CD and profiting from the sales. Another thing for the OP, I believe there is also an exemption somewhere that says if a live band sells their own albums, a license is not required. Just something else to consider.

ASCAP Link: http://www.ascap.com/licensing/licensingfaq.html


The law says all who participate in, or are responsible for, performances of music are legally responsible. Since it is the business owner who obtains the ultimate benefit from the performance, it is the business owner who obtains the license. Music license fees are one of the many costs of doing business.

The idea is that a business owner is attempting to make his business more attractive to customers by using music. That makes them responsible for the fee.

nate
01-21-2009, 02:22 PM
How much typically does ASCAP charge for lets say, a night of songs?

There's a bunch of info here (http://www.ascap.com/licensing/brochures.html).

Unassisted
01-21-2009, 02:44 PM
I'm not aware of any way around it....they are pretty nastyI agree. I once attended a presentation by an ASCAP rep at a conference. They know their stuff and they are relentless.

Considering how the music sales industry is imploding, their artists are counting on ASCAP more than ever to wring every dollar out of their songs.

5DOLLAR-BLEACHERBUM
01-21-2009, 03:34 PM
How much typically does ASCAP charge for lets say, a night of songs?I have a band every sat night so thats around 50 performances a year and the cost is over 800 just from ascap, as people have said though, once you pay ascap the other two will jump right in for theirs. So after paying all three I would guess the cost would be around 1500 dollars or more a year. The company who services my jukebox is already covered so thats for live acts only.

Heath
01-21-2009, 04:14 PM
How much typically does ASCAP charge for lets say, a night of songs?

It's usually an annual fee.

My office pays for it.

RedFanAlways1966
01-21-2009, 08:50 PM
Do what men who disagree do in bars... take it outside. Kick his arse and then give him one more kick as you call him Lars Ulrich. ;)

Makes for good conversation. I am curious to know what bar you own. I played in bands around the Dayton area for near 10 years. That was before all the BS though. If he comes back, then ignore him. Ask him to leave if he continues. If he does not leave, then call the police and have him removed. If an attorney calls, then cease with the bands and claim that all your musical talent played originals. Your word against the prick's word. He'd have a hard time proving anything unless he has video (audio could be recorded anywhere).

Such crap. Local cover bands have played for locals for years. Millionaires many times over trying to squeeze more money out of the little people. Don't give in or back down.

kaldaniels
01-21-2009, 09:07 PM
Do what men who disagree do in bars... take it outside. Kick his arse and then give him one more kick as you call him Lars Ulrich. ;)

Makes for good conversation. I am curious to know what bar you own. I played in bands around the Dayton area for near 10 years. That was before all the BS though. If he comes back, then ignore him. Ask him to leave if he continues. If he does not leave, then call the police and have him removed. If an attorney calls, then cease with the bands and claim that all your musical talent played originals. Your word against the prick's word. He'd have a hard time proving anything unless he has video (audio could be recorded anywhere).

Such crap. Local cover bands have played for locals for years. Millionaires many times over trying to squeeze more money out of the little people. Don't give in or back down.

Devil's Advocate here...wouldn't the representative know this, and use his Blackberry to get some quick video?

RedFanAlways1966
01-21-2009, 09:31 PM
Devil's Advocate here...wouldn't the representative know this, and use his Blackberry to get some quick video?

Perhaps (I am a bit behind on the technology thing).

That is why a good bouncer is needed at a bar... what Blackberry? That thing that "fell out of his pocket" and broke into a thousand pieces in the parking lot? :thumbup:

nate
01-22-2009, 09:34 AM
Do what men who disagree do in bars... take it outside. Kick his arse and then give him one more kick as you call him Lars Ulrich. ;)

Makes for good conversation. I am curious to know what bar you own. I played in bands around the Dayton area for near 10 years. That was before all the BS though. If he comes back, then ignore him. Ask him to leave if he continues. If he does not leave, then call the police and have him removed. If an attorney calls, then cease with the bands and claim that all your musical talent played originals. Your word against the prick's word. He'd have a hard time proving anything unless he has video (audio could be recorded anywhere).

Such crap. Local cover bands have played for locals for years. Millionaires many times over trying to squeeze more money out of the little people. Don't give in or back down.

Although one sees the "Millionaires many times over" on TV, there are also many "not Millionaires many times over" who _DEPEND_ on being paid for their songwriting efforts to make their house, car, insurance, food note every month.

I mean, if we're all for giving away other people's property, why not just give the booze away? "Millionaires many times over trying to squeeze more money out of the little people" by selling it.

Such crap, indeed.

RFS62
01-22-2009, 01:10 PM
Perhaps (I am a bit behind on the technology thing).

That is why a good bouncer is needed at a bar... what Blackberry? That thing that "fell out of his pocket" and broke into a thousand pieces in the parking lot? :thumbup:



I'm sure you were kind of kidding, but that isn't exactly the best business advice I've ever heard.

RedFanAlways1966
01-22-2009, 02:02 PM
Although one sees the "Millionaires many times over" on TV, there are also many "not Millionaires many times over" who _DEPEND_ on being paid for their songwriting efforts to make their house, car, insurance, food note every month.

I mean, if we're all for giving away other people's property, why not just give the booze away? "Millionaires many times over trying to squeeze more money out of the little people" by selling it.

Such crap, indeed.

Not too many cover bands are playing little man's unpaid songs in bars. If so, they are not getting many gigs playing unknown music. Getting gigs as a cover band and keeping bar owners/patrons happy means playing popular music. Give it away? Not how I see it. The real world does not see many people who never buy a CD/MP3 and only enjoy the music by going to see cover bands play that music in local bars. How many times has a signed band's CD been bought b/c someone heard a cover band playing a cover song? I guess that would be the side of the coin that the greedy (those who can afford high-priced lawyers to sue the common folk) do not like to think about and share. Maybe you and I disagree on tangible (booze) vs. non-tangible (music played by local bands) things. To compare the two is apples and oranges to me and not arguable.

The musicians who DEPEND on money (to buy food or make their $500/month rent payment) are the ones not getting gigs because rich lawyers and musicians are costing them gigs at local bars b/c of this crap. Crap indeed.

I hate to think of Lars Ulrich who has trouble buying that 30th house on the French Riveria or 132nd Ferrari at his 27th house? That is a DEPENDANCE we all understand. ;)

RedFanAlways1966
01-22-2009, 02:19 PM
I'm sure you were kind of kidding, but that isn't exactly the best business advice I've ever heard.

You are right, RFS. I should have been clearer on the joking thing! :)

nate
01-22-2009, 03:25 PM
Not too many cover bands are playing little man's unpaid songs in bars.

I bet there are more "unknown" names on the songwriter credits of popular tunes (that is, tunes that people want to hear bar bands play) being played by cover bands than "Millionaires many times over."


If so, they are not getting many gigs playing unknown music.

Many songs aren't written by the artists who perform them. Many songs are written by someone else.. They were lucky to be able to pitch that song to an artist who made it "big."

You're thinking "stars" and turning this into some sort of silly "class warfare." I'm talking about people who earn their living writing songs, get a fraction of a point on a cut and hoping to do that enough times to turn it into a career. It's not about "bad, bad ASCAP and Millionaires many times over" versus the poor bar owner/bar band dudes. It's about owners of intellectual property getting what they're legally entitled to.


Getting gigs as a cover band and keeping bar owners/patrons happy means playing popular music.

People who are not "the artist" (you know, the "Millionaires many times over") have a big part in writing the songs. Yes, sometimes "bands" write their own songs and sometimes solo artists write their own songs but I'd say the vast majority of material is written or co-written by someone who is not a "Millionaire many times over."


Give it away? Not how I see it. The real world does not see many people who never buy a CD/MP3 and only enjoy the music by going to see cover bands play that music in local bars. How many times has a signed band's CD been bought b/c someone heard a cover band playing a cover song? I guess that would be the side of the coin that the greedy (those who can afford high-priced lawyers to sue the common folk) do not like to think about and share.

And thus the devaluation of intellectual property and non-appreciation of music continues.


Maybe you and I disagree on tangible (booze) vs. non-tangible (music played by local bands) things. To compare the two is apples and oranges to me and not arguable.


It doesn't really matter what you think about the tangibility, it matters that the music has value. The songwriters and IP owners have a COPYRIGHT which extends to live venue reproduction of their music. Whether that's The Doobie Brothers, Sade, The Human League, Martina McBride or Burt Bacharach, they have a right to ask for compensation when their music is being used to make someone else money.


The musicians who DEPEND on money (to buy food or make their $500/month rent payment) are the ones not getting gigs because rich lawyers and musicians are costing them gigs at local bars b/c of this crap. Crap indeed.

And if this law doesn't exist, the people who write the songs won't be able to buy food or make their $500/month rent payment. So they'll get day gigs and stop writing songs. Not all songwriters are "Millionaires many times over."

This is simply a part of doing business. If you want to use someone else's copywritten material, you have to pay for it.


I hate to think of Lars Ulrich who has trouble buying that 30th house on the French Riveria or 132nd Ferrari at his 27th house? That is a DEPENDANCE we all understand. ;)

Or a songwriter like me who'd very much like to have the extra hundred bucks or so each month; I'm so "greedy" wanting to be able pay my bills.

There's more people (not "Millionaires many times over") who are like me than there are "Lars."

durl
01-22-2009, 03:45 PM
This is pretty cut and dry. Songs are intellectual property that are protected by US copyright laws. People just can't use someone elses copyrighted material for their own profit. The music industry isn't alone in wanting these laws enforced.

If a bar were to put up a huge TV screen and show movies, charging customers to come see them, no one would be surprised when the lawsuits are filed if they failed to obtain a license. There would be little to no talk about movie studios trying to grab more money. Most would agree that you simply can't charge people to watch a movie when you have no ownership rights.

Music performances should not be viewed any differently.

Hoosier Red
01-22-2009, 04:12 PM
This is pretty cut and dry. Songs are intellectual property that are protected by US copyright laws. People just can't use someone elses copyrighted material for their own profit. The music industry isn't alone in wanting these laws enforced.

If a bar were to put up a huge TV screen and show movies, charging customers to come see them, no one would be surprised when the lawsuits are filed if they failed to obtain a license. There would be little to no talk about movie studios trying to grab more money. Most would agree that you simply can't charge people to watch a movie when you have no ownership rights.

Music performances should not be viewed any differently.


It is a little different though because the bar isn't charging people to come see the band. They only make money on the food served. This is analogous to FOX and or the NFL charging for the bar showing a football game.

The easiest solution is probably to pay the licensing fees, knock $10-$15 off the band's pay for the weekend, and take a $20 weekend loss. $30/weekend *50 weeks = $1,500.

durl
01-22-2009, 04:20 PM
It is a little different though because the bar isn't charging people to come see the band. They only make money on the food served. This is analogous to FOX and or the NFL charging for the bar showing a football game.

But the bar is using the band to encourage people to come hear the band. Although some customers may not care about the music and show up anyway, "Live Music" is virtually always seen as a draw.


The easiest solution is probably to pay the licensing fees, knock $10-$15 off the band's pay for the weekend, and take a $20 weekend loss. $30/weekend *50 weeks = $1,500.

Spot on. Pay the fee. I would hope that the band would prefer to receive a little less for their performance than to not be paid at all.

durl
01-23-2009, 02:02 PM
.

Brutus_the_Red
01-23-2009, 02:56 PM
You could always just do what we do at our bar...

Book original acts....

Cover bands are for wussies! :)