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#668817 - 11/18/08 07:38 PM ASCAP lowering the boom  
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Swanee Offline
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A friend who owns a nightclub that I gig at is under intense pressure from ASCAP for licensing fees at the moment. He is negotiating right now over the amount.

I have a pretty good undertanding of the PRO model, why the fees exist, how the system works, etc. BMI is my PRO

My friend is pretty well tied in with other local owners and they all seem to believe there is a very intense crackdown on venues for licensing fees at the present.

My question is; does anyone know if ASCAP has suddenly gotten very aggressive recently and is currently in "crackdown mode"? If so is there a particular reason? Maybe it varies from city to city, region to region, etc?

Any feedback is appreciated.

#668827 - 11/18/08 08:09 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Swanee]  
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Eric Baker Offline
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Swanee--I don't think it's any particular city. Last spring the same thing happened to a friend of mine who owns a bar. ASCAP came in and raised her fees. I don't remember the exact amount, but it was a rather significant raise. I live in Western Maryland, which is totally out in the boonies, and you'd have a hard time finding her bar even if you were looking for it, so I think it's an across-the-board fee increase. As to why, I really have no idea. If I were to guess, I'd bet illegal downloads and cd burning have something to do with it.

I seem to remember her saying that the increase pertained to both her live acts and her jukebox.

Eric

#668876 - 11/18/08 10:26 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Eric Baker]  
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Moker Jarrett Offline
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a public performance of a registered song has always been subject to the fees. The enforcement of such, whether it's a juke box spin, or a live band doing a Stones tune, that p.r.o. is responsible to the member artists to collect those fees. being an ASCAP member i know this has been an issue for some time. they have gotten more organized by pressure from members and lost revenue through yes, illegal downloads, the closing of many record stores that has resulted in lost cd sales. the enforcemnet of download royalties is a constant battle because it is a cyberspace storefront that keeps changing, they haven't caught up with the technology enough to be efficient. The clubs are profiting by entertaining their guests with copywritten creations the likes of which the artists want to be paid for. It is a very small fee per song, but it can add up to some $... every song, every night, every week, every month...some pay a blanket license fee for the rights to use the entire catalog...many clubs and other venues have long benefitted from this music without paying a dime...i know alot of club owners too, i happen to side with the musicians on this one...at $3+ per beer and $5+ per mixed drink, there's enough profit to pay the few cents per song to the p.r.o. to distribute...JMO...moker

this section is reprinted from the ASCAP site for information and educational purposes...
"Performance Royalties are royalties that result from the performance of music to the public whether it's live or recorded. These performances occur on the radio (satellite and terrestrial), television, Internet, in concert halls, restaurants, coffee shops, clubs, malls, aerobic centers; anywhere that music is used by a commercial enterprise to enhance the income of the business. Publishers and songwriters feel that the songs that you hear when mobile phones ring should generate performance royalties. Others disagree.

Currently, performance income is the largest source of income for publishing companies whose songs receive a lot of airplay on Pop, Rock, Urban or Country radio and television. The fees radio stations pay have been, until very recently, based on a small percentage of the station's advertising revenue. So commercial Christian music stations, that is those who sell commercial time on their stations pay a fee that is in line with every other commercial radio station of similar Arbitron ranking regardless of their musical format. But the royalties earned by the writers and publishers reflect the audience size which has been measured by Arbitron. A large commercial Pop station in a large city will theoretically generate more advertising revenue therefore more performance royalties. Even an excellent Christian commercial station will in most cases have a smaller audience than those playing secular music however.

Additionally, since many Christian radio stations qualify on paper as Non-commercial stations their license fees are minimal and don't help Christian publishers and writers much. So, for a number one song in a format full of non-commercial stations, Christian publishers' and writers' performance royalty income is approximately five percent of the comparative amount generated by secular airplay.

These royalties are collected by performance rights organizations (PROs). They collect the royalties and then distribute them to the writers and publishers whose songs have been performed. The PROs also serve the music user, like the broadcaster. Copyright law requires that a broadcaster acquire the permission of every copyright owner of every song they play. For a radio station that is music-intensive, contacting every publisher of every song played every hour of every day would be an impossible task! So the PROs, through their licensing agreements with publishers and writers, issue blanket licenses to the broadcasters saving them from that task.

The "Blanket License" concept means that when a music user buys a Blanket License they have purchased the right to use all of the music represented by the licensor. So when a radio station buys a Blanket License from ASCAP they can broadcast any music from the ASCAP repertoire. If the radio station is a "Talk" station that doesn't use much music, they can buy a Per-Program license that allows the use of the specific songs that they agree upon.

Performance royalties are distributed four times a year that is, quarterly. The PROs use varying methods to determine which songs have been played every quarter and then distribute royalties to the writers and publishers of those works. Some great songs never stop being played, digitally streamed and performed live. They continue to earn Performance income long after they are no longer on industry magazine charts."

Last edited by Moker Jarrett; 11/18/08 10:50 PM.
#668947 - 11/19/08 07:54 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Swanee]  
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MidniteBob Offline
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Raleigh, ya'll
Swannee,

It's a cross-continental crackdown, with no nook or cranny left unattended....The pros & cons debate as far as targeting the mom & pop places rages quite vehemently in my neck of the DC woods.

Midnite


Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

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#669004 - 11/19/08 01:38 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: MidniteBob]  
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Swanee Offline
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I fully support the PRO's enforcing the guidelines and I too know for a fact a lot of these places have hidden in the shadows for years with paying little or no fees.

But right here , right now...ouch. They couldn't have picked a worse time economoically to start getting tough. The restaurant and bar biz in my town is reeling right now as it is I am sure most places.

it's a catch 22 because yes the venues need to pay the piper...but if ASCAP is going around raising fees right now they are helping put a nail in the coffin of the struggling cabaret industry. And if there are fewer and fewer places to play that means fewer and fewer gigs for guys like me. Which is exactly what I am facing in this particular situation with my friend club - he may opt to quit featuring live music to try and reduce his fee to just the jukebox.

It also means fewer and fewer places to potentially pay PRO fees. Which reduces the overall pot at the end of the day that the songwriter gets a cut of.

I can see it both ways. I just think they picked a really tought time to do it.

#669030 - 11/19/08 02:59 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Swanee]  
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Moker Jarrett Offline
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jacksonville, fl
i have heard of this street level enforcement for licensing for nearly a decade now, i remember some clubs i played in the mid nineties were getting hit then...i agree it couldn't come at a worse time for anyone who's just getting hit now...no one needs any more hits right now

#669034 - 11/19/08 03:09 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Moker Jarrett]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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It has been noted before that Pro License Fees are a very small cost of doing business. So it has to be a consideration for the overall shape the business is in if they keep live music or not. It may be tough for a while before it gets better.


Ray E. Strode
#669091 - 11/19/08 07:45 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Eric Baker Offline
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I totally agree--the PROs do need to be looking out for the artists. My friend was already paying the ASCAP fees at her bar--she just couldn't understand the sudden rate increase. When she inquired about it, she didn't get a satisfactory answer.

I know of bars here that won't advertise their live acts in the newspaper because they don't want the PROs to know that they have live music. That's wrong and I don't support that at all.

Eric

#669108 - 11/19/08 08:43 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Eric Baker]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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It's such a small amount when amortized over each day that any argument that it's the straw that broke the back of the venue to me is either naive or disingenuous. If having live music does not produce enough extra income to cover a PRO fee, then don't have live music. It's really simple. But I think most venue owners with any business accumen knows that even a small local act with moderate talent will increase the time a patron stays in a venue and the amount of drinks/food they will buy while there. Tell them it's a better investment than candles or napkins or whatever else they spend money on to do business.

Brian


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#669123 - 11/19/08 09:53 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Kathy Bampfield Offline
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Does ASCAP come in when the bar only plays originals?


#669141 - 11/19/08 11:10 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Kathy Bampfield]  
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mattbanx Offline
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That is a good question.
Does someone have to be published to play in places to begin with?
It would not surprise me a bit with the attorneys process if the organizations tried to profit off of their work.

I remember all original acts from where I live from a small age back before they became in vogue to the scene. Outside of emulating styles to a certain degree, I will not even cop a riff, even if that might be taken as more competent. People like it familiar, then there is genreic. I remember bands that did covers and maybe one or 2 originals that would knock the one's that did all originals, even though people lined up to hear them more.

At the same time, I do not want my anti-establishment mentality to get in the way of my judgement.
I try to be more of a pragmatist.
Is this not something that should already be in place with the establishments for acts to do cover songs?
Somehow it seems like a setup to put the squeeze on clubs.
How the hell would the clubs get the lawyers to compete?

I am not saying that the clamping down is not legitimate, but it seems a matter of the rules in place being enforced more, and if there has to be spying then there is something wrong with the what is in place that should be worked out through the courts..

#669164 - 11/19/08 11:57 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: mattbanx]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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The PRO's don't go for it. They used to send someone out undercover to sit in the club, once someone sings "Happy Birthday" or slips in their favorite Bob Dylan tune, or even sings a song that sort of "borrowed" a melody from an existing song, the club is busted. I don't know if they still do it. Trying to keep a club "all original" is too great a burden on the club. If some drunk comes up on an open stage and starts in with "Freebird," it's the club that gets the fine.



You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#669191 - 11/20/08 01:08 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Kathy Bampfield]  
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MidniteBob Offline
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Raleigh, ya'll
If you have licensed your songs with a PRO, then, technically, you need a release form(can't remember which one) in order to sing them in a venue that doesn't pay the fees.

Midnite

Originally Posted by Kathy Bampfield
Does ASCAP come in when the bar only plays originals?



Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

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#669192 - 11/20/08 01:10 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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MidniteBob Offline
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Raleigh, ya'll
Mike, they still do it, and very aggressively lately.

Midnite

Originally Posted by Mike Dunbar
The PRO's don't go for it. They used to send someone out undercover to sit in the club, once someone sings "Happy Birthday" or slips in their favorite Bob Dylan tune, or even sings a song that sort of "borrowed" a melody from an existing song, the club is busted. I don't know if they still do it. Trying to keep a club "all original" is too great a burden on the club. If some drunk comes up on an open stage and starts in with "Freebird," it's the club that gets the fine.



Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

The Shoebox & Dinner at Eight trailers available at:

http://www.twometer.com/Two_Meter_Studios/HOME.html
#670507 - 11/25/08 04:52 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Originally Posted by Mike Dunbar
They used to send someone out undercover to sit in the club, once someone sings "Happy Birthday" or slips in their favorite Bob Dylan tune, or even sings a song that sort of "borrowed" a melody from an existing song, the club is busted. I don't know if they still do it.


Oh yes, they certainly do. smile In fact, I unwittingly "helped" a favorite coffeeshop get busted a little while ago. My set had a few cover tunes, and there was this older guy was sitting in the back with a laptop and a webcam pointed directly at me. I thought that was weird. A week later the shop owner emailed all the artists who'd ever played there and told us not to play covers until further notice.

I pointed the owners to some info on BMI and ASCAP, including some online fee calculators. However, the shop owners were ticked off because the PRO was demanding way more than the literature indicated (maybe back payments? Punitive fees? I don't know) and threatening to "shut them down," so they lawyered up.

I don't know the full resolution, but the shop is still in business and now I have to sign a waiver promising I won't play any cover songs. I'm okay with that, but it still kind of stinks because cover songs IMO are a right of passage. I feel bad for all the college kids, just starting to play at open mikes and learning to perform, not being able to get their feet wet with covers.

#670511 - 11/25/08 05:04 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: scottandrew]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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Scott,

Somewhere, someday, some astute club owner will pay the PRO fee and announce a "cover tune" open stage. When she blows away the competition, then things might change. That's the way things seem to go smile


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#670579 - 11/25/08 08:04 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Andrew Robertson Offline
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It's called "karaoke"...


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#678389 - 01/01/09 08:00 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Andrew Robertson]  
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Bobbie Gallup (D) Offline
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This is absolutely nothing new. Back in the early 90's when I was Executive Director of my national professional organization...we held one national conference each year. At that conference, it was a tradition to hold a dance one evening. Of course...among our 5000 members we had a number of performers, singer-songwriter types...who would volunteer to come perform. We were contacted by ASCAP and BMI and required to ante up for an annual fee...even though these performers ONLY did original songs. At the time I was not a songwriter...and it seemed strange to me that we would have to pay a price when the singers were volunteers and were only doing their own songs. It cost us approximately $600 per year per pro back then. For a non-profit organization, that really hurt...but we paid it. The part that really bothered me was that the performers who actually performed never saw a penny of that money. That is the part that did not seem fair to me.

Bobbie

Last edited by Bobbie Gallup; 01/01/09 08:01 AM.

They'll tell you success in the music biz is all about who you know...but the truth is...it's about who knows you.

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#685890 - 01/26/09 03:10 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Bobbie Gallup (D)]  
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Brian Baughn Offline
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I believe the fees are based on who can lobby Congress the strongest...the PROs and their allies or the National Bar & Restaurant Association.

I'm surprised the fees have gone up significantly recently as I recall a few years back the NBRA pushing hard for a reduction.

I do recall Leeds Levy telling me that his first job was with ASCAP in NYC as one of the field reps collecting these type of royalties. He seemed glad to have survived it.


末末末末末末末末末
Brian Baughn
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#685899 - 01/26/09 03:45 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Bobbie Gallup (D)]  
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Joe Wrabek (D) Offline
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Joe Wrabek (D)  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 6,403
Garibaldi, OR USA
I think it's the fairness issue that really bothers me. If I'm playing covers in a bar (say), it is appropriate that the authors of those songs get their ounce of flesh. I have not heard of anyone non-famous getting any money out of the program, though. There are people playing some of *my* songs in venues like that, and I have never seen a dime out of it and don't really expect to. That money the venue pays ASCAP and BMI is going exclusively to the famous folks, not me.

But the idea that if *I* am playing *my* own songs, a venue needs to pay hundreds of dollars to PROs that will never give me any of that money is just plain wrong. That amounts to a tax on me to benefit my already wealthy and famous competition, and I would like it stopped. How do we do that?

joe

#685918 - 01/26/09 04:20 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Joe Wrabek (D)]  
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,814
Herbie Gaines Offline
Top 100 Poster
Herbie Gaines  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,814
Chicago,IL, USA
Hey Joe
Review this thread that has been raging in the Tampa Chapter
http://www.jpfolks.com/forum/ubbthr...=&topic=1&Search=true#Post680155


Herbie
JPF Chicago Chapter Coordinator
http://www.herbietunes.com

#685943 - 01/26/09 05:58 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Herbie Gaines]  
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 6,403
Joe Wrabek (D) Offline
Top 40 Poster
Joe Wrabek (D)  Offline
Top 40 Poster

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 6,403
Garibaldi, OR USA
Herbie, I did. And I responded. I think I still have a problem.

joe

#687952 - 02/01/09 04:14 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Joe Wrabek (D)]  
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,199
Marc Barnette Offline
Top 50 Poster
Marc Barnette  Offline
Top 50 Poster

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,199
Nashville, Tn.
Everybody,

In the current economic climate, everyone is trying to get every cent they feel they are owed. The PROS are doing what they are designed to do, collect and enforce rules that have been established over the time of recorded music. As downloading has become more rampant, it has become more of a fight for survival in the music industry to try and get some kind of a handle.
For those of you who are on the "Why are they cracking down on the clubs" point of view, think of it like this: If you have been trying to get publishers, song pluggers, producers, labels, artits, to listen to your songs for the purposes of recording them for commercial purposes understand we have lost over 4 billion dollars in the past five to seven years. We have lost publishers at an amazing rate.
Six years ago in Nashville we had 1480 staff writing deals. We now have 310. That is due to the loss of economic income from songs. Artists, companies, publishers, have all been going out of business and the huge forces against us, kids, college students, resturants, bars, etc all go "Why should I pay for something I can get for free? It is on the Internet, people burn me copies, it is on the radio, these millionaires don't need my money."
The fact is what you are seeing is a rehifting of the entire perameters of how music is distributed and how income is being allocated. So as you think about your musical journey, investing in your own career, you need to pay attention to other things that seemingly don't affect you, that really do.
Write mediocre, self indulgent songs that only you or a small cadre of friends want to hear, and you provide nothing that generates revenue for the venues that provide us a place to play. Bring nothing into them and they simply change formats to something that costs less and is more interactive, like Karoke.
Pay no attention to the economic climate of others, laws being passed, not enforced, encourage others and yourself to get music for free, that music source dries up and there is no economic reason for it. Which ultimatly affects you when people expect you to give your product away for free.
Right now we have resources of major record labels being involved in with games like Rock Star and Guitar Idol. That is fine for the people who are involved with those songs but it decreases the amount of money invested in new up and coming acts. So you have less oportunities for your own songs.
This is all basic economics. WE are all doing the same thing. Develop a product and get it to our consumer. It is art an our heart and soul, to be sure, but it is still a product. The more you understand things from other perspectives, the better chance you have to participate in the parade.

MAB

#690270 - 02/08/09 12:59 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Marc Barnette]  
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 12
Eireen Offline
Casual Observer
Eireen  Offline
Casual Observer

Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 12
here
The PROs aren't just cracking down on clubs; they have targeted medical clinics and healthcare professionals (such as massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc.) - people who are likely to use music during treatment sessions - and have been demanding royalties from them.

So not only does the practitioner have to pay for the recording, they have to pay for the privilege of playing it at work. A massage therapist who contacted ASCAP was told that he could get around the fee by setting up a music retail shop in his massage office.

I'm all for musicians getting paid their rightful royalties, but IMHO this goes too far.


Royalty-free music for massage & relaxation:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/eireencullen
#690282 - 02/08/09 01:58 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Eireen]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,851
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline

Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,851
Indianapolis, IN USA
Eireen,

Actually I disagree. If someone is USING music to help them make a living doing something, then they should pay a fee the same as they pay for rent for the space and pay for the other things that provide them the ability to make money. The government forces writers to let you use their work to make a living. In return, you need to license it a the rates determined by that government action and the people charged with collecting that money are the PROs. If they don't ask for payment, they are violating their own responsibilities. The problem with the PRO's is that they aren't able to get around to everyone soon enough. So people use music illegally to make money until finally a PRO shows up to collect and then they get upset that they are caught and now have to pay. The reality is that they should have been paying starting day 1. If you want to use music that you didn't create in a massage therapy situation for example, then you need to license it's use via a PRO fee. If you don't want to pay that fee, write your own music and use that. Or don't use the music at all. Your choice.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

[Linked Image]
#690290 - 02/08/09 02:11 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Mike Dunbar Offline
Mike Dunbar  Offline


JPF Mentor

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 8,574
Nashville Tennessee
Someone could make a lot of money by offering a kiosk to download songs to an Ipod or other similar device for a fee. The desktop machine could then double as a sound system to play music in the business without the PRO fee. There could be soothing music kiosks for doctors' offices, metal for tattoo parlors, etc. It could all be indies or all majors. A major label could easily go through their catalog and put together music targeted for different businesses.

If someone takes this idea and makes a lot of money with it, make sure you buy me a steak dinner.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#690295 - 02/08/09 02:14 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 46
Brian Baughn Offline
Serious Contributor
Brian Baughn  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 46
Baltimore, MD
I, of course, agree with Brian A. W.

Getting around the licensing fee by setting up a retail shop. I've never heard of that but I wonder if that's what Starbucks does.

If it's true, it sounds like an opportunity for someone. Get the therapist or whomever to sell your CD and get out of owing/paying the fees.


末末末末末末末末末
Brian Baughn
BaughnSongs
#690303 - 02/08/09 02:34 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Brian Baughn]  
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 12
Eireen Offline
Casual Observer
Eireen  Offline
Casual Observer

Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 12
here
Yes, I've recently created a royalty-free CD of massage music.

What a lot of massage therapists I know are doing is just playing the New Age channel on iTunes and other free online radio stations.


Royalty-free music for massage & relaxation:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/eireencullen
#690342 - 02/08/09 10:52 AM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Eireen]  
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,478
Kevin Edward Rose Offline
Top 200 Poster
Kevin Edward Rose  Offline
Top 200 Poster

Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,478
Richmond, IN U.S.A.
Even using the above-mentioned New Age channel from iTunes isn't a way to get around payment. Any public performance (live, recorded, broadcast, or streamed) is subject to licensing fees. It is simply one of the many costs of doing business.


Kevin Edward Rose
Celtic, Americana, whatever the folk.
Hailed by Performing Songwriter magazine as a "valued subscriber".
More music sold than Elvis and the Beatles combined!*
http://www.KevinEdwardRose.com
http://www.youtube.com/KevinEdwardRose
#690390 - 02/08/09 03:34 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Kevin Edward Rose]  
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,199
Marc Barnette Offline
Top 50 Poster
Marc Barnette  Offline
Top 50 Poster

Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 5,199
Nashville, Tn.
Know what you get when you play New Age Music Backwards?

New Age Music!!!

MAB

#690449 - 02/08/09 07:27 PM Re: ASCAP lowering the boom [Re: Marc Barnette]  
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 14
Sikes Offline
Casual Observer
Sikes  Offline
Casual Observer

Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 14
I know the Bazaar Cafe in San Francisco allows no covers because it was hit by an ASCAP threat in 1996 or so. Isn't Ascap headquartered there?

John


John Sikes

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