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YES GOOD LUCK.


Called a Club Owner today.


When are you going to have music again?

Club owner: Did you read the paper?

Musician: No what happened

Club owner: Well Ascap Just won a $90,000 Law suit against Tampa Bay Downs for playing Unauthorized Music.


http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/civil/article960561.ece

Club owner: Sorry but I do not have the Money at the moment to Pay Ascap and BMI Fees.


So NO GIG!!

Ok Musicians what should we do?

Now My name is Jak Kelly.
I Compose Songs and am a member of A.S.C.A.P.
I certainly would want to get paid if someone performs my songs. So I am in a bit of a quandry. It is getting harder and harder to get gigs because of Clubs not wanting to pay ASCAP, BMI and Sesac.
So how can I make $$ in this Business?

Last edited by Jak Kelly; 01/08/09 04:26 PM.
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Tough question Jak. Let's just hope this club owner is the exception.

John

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Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/08/09 07:24 PM.


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You can play your own music right Jak? Couldn't you guarantee him an all original set? Give him a set list in advance even ! !


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

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mmmmm......well music has to increase his business enough for him to want to pay the fees and the musicians. Some clubs are known for music and people go there to hear it. At others, music is wallpaper and the customers would go there with or without it. So I guess you have to find the ones where music is a part of the culture.

It would be interesting to know who in our area is paid up and who isn't. Maybe BMI and ASCAP publish that info???


Colin

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Yes, I do all original music.And all of it is published.
but the catch 22 may be that the club has to buy the licences so I can play MY songs .
Just a thought. Maybe Brian can fill us in on this conundrum.

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"but the catch 22 may be that the club has to buy the licences so I can play MY songs ."

The club you were talking to needs to do a little more homework on the issue - they shouldn't have to pay for original music.

As the music coordinator for the Bunker, I was receiving *extremely* threatening phone calls from BMI stating that we HAD to pay them money if we had any music playing at the Bunker. Even though all of our musicians were doing originals. And the amounts of money they were demanding were ridiculous. If we *did* have to pay it, we'd have to cancel our music because the entire profit we made off the night would go directly to BMI. And then some.

Okay. My dad has been with BMI and ASCAP for 40 years and has *never* made money from bar & coffee shop music royalties, and has never heard of any of his musician friends getting any royalties off of that either. You get money from radio, tv or film usage...not flippin' coffee shops. So bars & coffee shops that DO pay these companies are NOT funding the musicians, but rather are funding the companies that are *saying* they are giving it to the aritsts. Then the rep from BMI tried to lay a huge guilt trip on me by saying that I'm "stealing money from the musicians."

First of all, if they collect a "yearly fee", how would they know which musicians to send it to? And, secondly, the venue I coordinate for gives a little money to each of our performers anyway. It's not much since we're still small and don't have a huge budget, but considering how trivial any amount from BMI would be...if any...we are directly compensating the artists FAR more than any trickle down amount from BMI would be.

So, after several phone calls with the guy from BMI and hour-long arguments (and...if you know me...I don't usually argue with *anybody*) he conceded and told me I was right and as long as we continued with original music we wouldn't have to pay.

Which is why we say "original music only."

So, anyway. That's my 2 cents. Independent places get so bombarded with people demanding money - they really need to do more research before the fees put them out of business... and then the musicians are *really* screwed. smile

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Great discussion, here's my two cents. Everyone here has made some good points but I think that the common denomenator here is that the business of being a local performing artist isnt easy. I have taken a run at a few things including starting this chapter which survives with the efforts of Jerry and some key members but it's a specialty type of showcase that brings folks together on a monthly basis and thats what keeps it special and thriving. A and R Productions which has served as a vehicle for some special events, house concerts etc and will remain a vehicle to myself and anyone who has a productive idea and is willing to share the load and also Back Stage Pass Internet Radio Broadcasting where I hosted 36 consecutive weekly shows that were in rotation 30 times a week over three online radio stations featuring 99% Indi Artists many from right here in Tampa Bay.
This year my goal is to tighten up the group "Mason/Alvarez" and really get out there and start to cut out a regional buzz.
Jim and I spent the day yesterday loaded with Promo Packs visiting bars and restaurants and coffee houses shaking hands and pitching and generally marketing our group, in other words doing exactly what Jak and many of you have done, asked for the gig. We got a variety of responses from we only hire single acts (we're a tro) to we'll keep you in mind to I had to cut out entertainment cuz business is off. But it wasnt all bad some was encouraging but not for gigs tommorrow. That's okay we're happy to get on the calendar in March or April.
I'm very familiar with the resisitance of the BMI, ASCAP obsticle as I have been both performer and entertainment coordinator here, in Colorado and in California and it never changes the bottom line is some "bookers" have been scared into a corner and some just pay the bread and some just havnt been hit by ty the PRO (Professional Rights Organization) yet. It's a numbers game and it's competetive and as more small businesses fold under the weight of the economy our outlets seem to dwindle , so whats the answer.
Stay in the game. Steve Vaclavik is a perfect example. He is talented, continues to grow as an artist and stays in the game and is consistantly playing out and guess what, he's getting pretty well known and is working.
There are also a few guys and gals around town who host open mics who do an awesome job,there may not be alot of bread but they do their homework and give you exposure so that when you ask for the gig the "booker" may have heard of you. A few I'll mention are Scotty Rexroat at Jollimon's, Stephanie Carpenter with the "Gals with Guitars" showcase and Steve Arvery in St Pete.
And when you do get the gig treat it like a PRO. I see guys up there who can really belt it out but their late and shabby and there axe looks like it has guacamole smered all over it. I'm sorry but.....That's like a pretty girl with yellow teeth.
A reputation is a hard thing to repair. Make a good first impression.
Again just my two cents, I know I have been steppin' back this past year but look to see much more of me both on the boards and the stage. I'm with you "Every Step Of The Way".
Keep Strummin' Al Alvarez
www.myspace.com/masonalvarez
www.aandrproductions.com
www.jimmasonproductions.com


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I think I agree with Jessie. Booking all-original music does appear to be a way around paying the fees to ASCAP and BMI (&c.)

I know one bar owner in Medford (OR) who does this. He refuses to pay the fees, and as a trade-off will not allow any music that's not original in his bar. He will only book bands and artists who play all original stuff. I played there a lot of times.

Funny thing was, he didn't seem to have any shortage of performers. he had live music five nights a week, usually with three bands on the bill. No shortage of customers, either, even with a cover charge.

joe

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I imagine from time to time ASCAP/BMI agents will be sitting in the audience just waiting for one slip-up.

John

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"I imagine from time to time ASCAP/BMI agents will be sitting in the audience just waiting for one slip-up."

<shudder> lol!

Okay. Let's say that, although we have the "originals only" ground rules established, one of our musicians goes CRAZY ROGUE and starts singing "Achy Breaky Heart" in the middle of his/her set. Am I supposed to tackle him/her to make him/her stop? LOL! Yeah. I can totally see me doing that. WATCHOUT folks!! tongue

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Funny Jessie!

I would assume the agent would just report back to ASCAP that the club is indeed using unauthorized music - enter the ASCAP lawyers.

I do like the "tackle" scenario though, especially if the band breaks out with "Achy Breaky Heart".

John

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As a rule I tackle *anyone* that sings Achy Breaky Heart...so it really wouldn't be much of a stretch...

;p

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Jessie,

I feel compelled to admit that one Friday night at The Bunker I sang Dion's "Runaround Sue" when you weren't there. I guess I need to send BMI a check.

I'm truly ashamed of myself...

Mike

http://www.myspace.com/threeoldguys
http://www.myspace.com/mikeworrall



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You heard it here first, folks. When the Bunker gets shut down by a 600k lawsuit it will be ALL MIKE'S FAULT.

grin grin wink

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Jessi - as a rule I hope you don't book anyone who even KNOWS Achy Breaky Heart!! No club has to pay for an artist playing their own material - published or not, licensed or not. That's the answer - no covers if there's no ASCAP / BMI license.

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Doug - agreed. I believe I was 12 when that song came out. WAY too young to be exposed to such things.

...that explains the *tick*...

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Originally Posted by Jessie
Doug - agreed. I believe I was 12 when that song came out. WAY too young to be exposed to such things.

...that explains the *tick*...


Jeez, I was around 12 when "Runaround Sue" came out.

John

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I hold Mike responsible for getting that song stuck in my head the first time. I hold you responsible for bringing it back up and re-sticking it.

<jessie runs off to find a good CD>

wink

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Why do BMI and ASCAP make me think of labor unions?


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


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Because that's exactly what they are - groups that purport to look out for the interests of the little guy when in fact they are just methods for stuffing money in the pockets of a few. For some they are necessary evils and have their purpose, but for most of us they are nothing but a threat to creativity and opportunity - particularly when it comes to their attack on venues that have live music. Just my opinion.

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I was in the teamsters union for a long time.
Every time we got a raise the union dues went up,useless employees were impossible to get fired,and their idea of negotiations was to kiss the employers ass.
A real crock of crap!



http://www.jerryjakala.com
http://cdbaby.com/cd/jakalajerry2

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I'm not sure Myspace is such a good thing in the long run. It is a great networking tool, but now we have advertising showing up and we're not seeing any of the money. Sure some people have gotten sponsored but the majority no. And you can be sure if they do start rewarding us, they will be nickel and diming us. That is why a site of our own is needed and sites like Mellow Melodies and Music Tampa Bay have got the right idea, but what they really need is a dedicated server and software so our material can be streamed without hitches, music can be SOLD and downloaded, and local advertisers can see we are a viable means to sell their products. Then we have to support the bandwidth needed to maintain it. The potential to jump start such a format is huge. The Tampa Bay area is begging for it. You can be sure they're thinking of ways to prevent us from obtaining these successes, and I think the time to act is right now before it is too late. We could hold some fundraisers by providing our entertainment capabilities for our own cause. I think once the word is out to the public they would be happy to support it. We might even be able to secure some large donations to help get it off the ground. I'm sure if we build it, they will come and it will be a model for other music communities accross the country. I don't think we all will get rich over it, but we might be able to secure some potential for a stable retirement plan unlike social security. I suggest we have a meeting and form a board. and a good place to get started is at Jerry's show tommorow.



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Great idea Scotty!
I am very excited about putting our music business future in our own hands.
I don't have a clue as to where to start etc.,but I am willing to do what I can to help.




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Don't know how I feel about this. Most clubs that won't pay a yearly fee to PA societies won't be able to pay musicians either. I think it is the cost of doing business. Otherwise, shut the CD player/radio/TV off, and see how many people stick around.

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No, this being a local artist thing isn't easy. Some persistence, patience and being a pain in the @#@$ sometimes pays off. An example...I sent out an email in early 2007 regarding a local gig opportunity and will be getting booked this year....

As far as the fees, it certainly isn't geared toward the little guys. To me it they protect the music business, not the music creators. Going after Mom and Pop venues is just a power/money grabbing move. No major artist is losing anything by Joe the Musician (just had to go there) playing Free Bird (had to go there too), but Joe the Musician is losing a lot in personal opportunity and a few extra bucks for gas not being able to do so. Essentially these tactics are killing live music and music availability in general.

I only had a chance to speak with Scotty briefly on Sunday, but he had some good ideas about creating local performance opportunities. Maybe we should have a meeting to discusss options and directions to take. We may come up with some great brainstorming ideas. We all have varying amounts of experience in going about this on our own - we may be quite a force if we work together.

Finally, I belong to a union now at work. I constantly go back and forth about the merits of unions. They've done a lot of good over the years, but they have also caused some problems. No easy answer there either.

Steve V


Steve Vaclavik

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Long Grass And The Tall Trees Available now:

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'You probably don't like what I'm saying, or the way that it's been said. But my only goal has been to awaken some thoughts in your head.'
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Originally Posted by Jak Kelly

So how can I make $$ in this Business?


Publisher.

Or, manager for an upcoming star.

Or, Get the capitol to start up a label and think online.

Playing wise. Better love it and would do it if not getting paid. Maybe a day job for the money?


GOOD LUCK!


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/default.cfm?bandID=1409522





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Again, this is where I have problems. To me, it isn't good for Joe the Musician or his local musician friends to get paid 'just a few extra bucks' to provide entertainment for the evening. Now, I have played many free shows, and many charity events, but if we are just talking about a normal booked show, and there is only 'gas money' involved, I don't know how this benefits a musician. You can spend the night home online promoting music, writing or recording, and that might get you further than playing for peanuts (and will make you feel better too).
I don't want ASCAP or BMI to get the money. I want local musicians to get the money. I think local 'mom & pops' generally don't have the money for either right now. I am all for venues going to all original music too- but not if they aren't willing to pay for it.

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It's all about money.

The bigger crowd you can be expected to bring,the easier it is to get gigs, the better the payday.

That's why a few acts will dominate a particular area at the club level, and touring bands can command the prices they do.

Want to play and make money? Build a following by being an entertainer, as well as a musician. Sell CDs and shirts. Sit with patrons and tell nutty stories. Promote yourself without fail.

It's hard work.

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Steve has it nailed...club owners want to know how many people you can bring in...You can only bring in people if you have a following...You can only build a following in today's world if you can ENTERTAIN them. This leads back to Brian's theory of 5000 fans. If you can build 5000 fans that WANT to support you because they LIKE what you do and you ENTERTAIN them, you are now making a living as a working musician. In a big city, let's call it Tampa,
TABLE 1.02A POPULATION OF TAMPA BAY METROPOLITAN AREA*

INCLUDES HERNANDO, HILLSBOROUGH, PASCO, AND PINELLAS COUNTIES

COUNTY
1960
1970
1980
1990
2006

HERNANDO
11,205
17,004
44,469
101,115
157,006

HILLSBOROUGH
397,788
490,265
646,939
834,054
1,164,425

PASCO
36,785
75,955
193,661
281,131
424,355

PINELLAS
374,665
522,329
728,531
851,659
948,102

MSA* TOTAL
820,443
1,105,553
1,613,600
2,067,959
2,693,888

OK call it 2,700,000 people...5000 fans would be .002% of the population...if you can't get that, how good are you?


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Here is a quotation from Frank Zappa (DownBeat).......

"The more mediocre your music is, the more accessible it is to a larger number of people in the United States. That's where the market is. You are not selling to a bunch of jazz aesthetes in Europe. You're selling to Americans, who really hate music and love entertainment."

I have got the mediocre part down - just got to work on the entertainment piece.


Colin

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Still, I think there is room for good music in a good club without what we know as 'shtick'...or, not even at a club at all- there are lots of places that hold special events, festivals, art shows, etc. You can easily build a following without doing the Vegas nightclub act, especially if what you do is very different from everyone else in the area. I have seen great acts in almost empty clubs/coffeehouses. And the next week, with another act, the place is still empty. It isn't just the musicians that have to bring and keep people there- you gotta be in a place people want to go.

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For me the music is the entertainment.
I know that I am a duck in a heard of barking dogs on this one but that is always the way it has been for me.
I just love the music!



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http://cdbaby.com/cd/jakalajerry2

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Wow.. there's so much to comment on here... and a lot of misinformation and a lot of bad bad ideas.

Let's start with the most critically wrong idea: That you can get away by telling musicians to only play originals and you won't get hit with a lawsuit. It's a fairy tale.

Heres why: If ANY artist plays a SINGLE song that was written or co-written by ANY writer registered with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC a single time, you have to pay the full year's license fee. This isn't some mafia scenario. It's Federally backed LAWS. The PRO's have a FIDUCIARY responsibility to collect those fees. In other words, they are breaking the law if they don't enforce those licensing fees set by the government. They are NOT the bad guys.

Songwriters are FORCED, by FEDERAL STATUTE, to allow anyone to use their music to make money that wants to. You can't stop them. You can't stop a radio station from playing your song to attract listeners so they can make more money selling ad time. You can't stop bars and restaurants to use your music, performed by anyone they choose, to make money by entertaining their customers. You can't stop shops from using your song to create a pleasant atmosphere so they can make more money. Even if you are against what they are doing, you can't stop them. Let's say you're a conservative songwriter a very liberal, left wing radio station wants to use your music as part of a left wing show. You can't stop them. Let's say you're liberal and Rush Limbaugh wants to use your music to increase his ratings and earnings? You can't stop him. Get the point? You have to allow EVERYONE, even if they offend you and you hate everything about them, to use your music to make money. Real life example: JPF Member Gretchen Peters (who has 4 albums entered into this year's JPF music awards) wrote the song "Independence Day." It was made famous by her, but even more so by Martina McBride. Gretchen is very liberal. Sean Hannity, the extreme Right wing Talk Show host uses her song, as recorded by Martina, as his theme song. She detests his politics and everything about him. But she can't stop him from using her song. Fortunately, since the Government FORCES her to allow anyone to use it, they collect a statutory fee as PART of the payment for taking away control from the creator. ASCAP collects her royalties for that song. Ironically, since she opposed both Hannity and Sarah Palin, who used her song during the campaign (apparently not realizing what the song is actually about) she donated all the proceeds to Planned Parenthood in a brilliant protest. Gretchen can't stop these people from using her song. The government won't let her. But the government collects a fee on her behalf via the PRO's which are licensed to act as the collecting agent. And it is the law that they attempt to collect any monies due and that includes any public performance via Radio or Live etc. The other form of payment for Gretch is any publicity or recognition they might get when their songs are used. Some call this "exposure" but to be clear, that is simply an extra benefit, that isn't the compensation.

The truth is that any venue using music must pay for the right to do so at their convenience. Can they avoid paying that fee? Sure.. by not having live music OR.. NEVER.. not a SINGLE TIME.. ever having any song that is in the catalogs of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC performed by anyone in that venue, nor the radio played in the venue. The odds of that are slim to none.

ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are simply collecting what is legally due to writers for the forced usage of their work. If songwriters could control their work, imagine how much it would cost everyone to ever have ANY live music? They'd have to negotiate with every writer or co-writer of every song. There would be no standard rate. There would be exclusivity on where you could hear certain songs. For example the Beatles could only give certain venues or certain radio stations permission to play their songs for a large additional fee. That would be devasting to any entity that used music in any way in their business for the public. It would also be devastating to all the writers who make some or all of their living of the current system of royalty payments.

Apparently no one here makes money from a PRO. But I know MANY writers who make a LOT of their living from PRO Royalty payments. Not all of them are rich like JPF member Susan Gibson who made millions from her song "Wide Open Spaces" but many still make a few thousand every year from songs they've written which continue to get enough radio play or venue play to show up on the surveys. The money collected in the venues is put into th general pool of money that is paid out based on radio play and large concert tracking. There is no current surveying of small venues because it's not cost effective. The amount of money collected couldn't pay for the money it would cost to accurately capture what songs are REALLY played. And you can't rely on venues themselves or performing artists to honestly track and turn in that information. People simply are too dishonest and try to manipulate the system too often. The results would be even MORE unfair than the current system.

If anything, the PRO's don't do ENOUGH to collect those fees due from venues that have live music. Too many of them get away without ever paying for a license.

As for the licenses, if broken down over a year, they're not that much. Unless you have a large venue that holds a large number of people and does a lot of live music (for example a place like the Ironhorse Saloon in Nashville) the fees are quite reasonable. For the average coffee shop it breaks down to less than a cup of coffee per day. If the live musicians you are booking can't increase your daily profits by that much you're hiring the wrong musicians or you simply shouldn't have live music. Venues pay for table cloths. They pay for ketchup. They pay for lights. If they use it, they pay their cable TV bill. They pay the dishwasher. They should also pay a small fee for the music they use to improve the ambience in the venue and keep more customers there longer.

Another right songwriters give up in exchange for the license fees is control over who can perform (or even record for that matter) their songs. You can't stop someone from doing after right of first release. In others words, once a song has been released for the first time for sale, anyone in the world can perform that song anywhere for free. (I.e. the artists don't ever have to pay). You can also record it, but must pay a mechanical fee per copy but that's another topic. For this right to let anyone use your music or perform your music, you have the right to have your authorized PRO collect the statutory fee for that use. There are guidelines the PRO's can use on determining fees, but usually when you hear about a LARGE fee being levied against a venue it is because

A: They haven't been paying the fees that were due.

B: They also refused to pay up when contacted by the PRO.

C: The PRO has proof that licensed songs were performed in that venue.

If those things are true, the venues CAN'T win. (In fact, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC have NEVER lost a single lawsuit EVER over collecting fees from a venue for use of music). And when a venue thinks they can fight it, they usually end up paying the max possible rate and back payments in the settlement. And often those numbers are much larger than if they had cooperated in the first place.

PRO's don't want to put live venues out of business. They want MORE venues to use Live Music. But they must collect the fees due. If they don't, they themselves are breaking the law. There are far more venues than there are collectors which is why some venues get away without paying for a long time. But that doesn't mean it's not due. And ignorance of the law is NOT a defense.

So folks.. the PRO's are NOT your enemy. They are your partner. Literally. If you don't like the way they are doing their job, you can change both from within because they are membership organizations. But no one has the right to refuse to pay and frankly, no one SHOULD refuse to pay. It's stealing. It's not different than illegal file stealing or shoplifting a CD. If you are using the music in your business, you need to pay for it. And the fees in the US are the cheapest in the WORLD thanks to the Restaurant lobby who is VERY powerful and has cut into the amounts that can be collected and the types of places that have to pay.

So what do you do about it? You EDUCATE the venues. You find out the cost of the licenses and you break it down and show them how live music can not only easily cover that cost, but make them even more profit. And you make sure that you entertain the audience enough to keep them there buying drinks or food from the venue so they earn more money. That's YOUR responsibility as the performer. If you can't do that, you aren't a professional and should be playing commercially (i.e. in a licensed venue). That's just part of the business.

I wish more folks would take the time to learn the truth about all of this and how it works. It's clear from the discussion above there is a lot of misinformation and misdirected anger and blame. And even if you are playing your OWN songs, if you co-wrote a single one of them with an ASCAP, BMI or SESAC member, or ARE ONE yourself, then those PRO's have every right to collect a full year's license fee. You can thank the government for that. If you don't like it, work to change the law. But if you do, it will cause the end of commercial music as we know it. Be careful what you wish for.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@gmail.com
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"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..." -Brian Austin Whitney

"Sometimes all you have to do to inspire humans to greatness is to give them a reason and opportunity to do something great." -Brian Austin Whitney
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Wow.. there's so much to comment on here... and a lot of misinformation and a lot of bad bad ideas.


You have written a lot here Brian thank you, but there are some contradictions and it sounds fluffy, no offense.

If 2 or more ORIGINAL OWN THEIR COPYRIGHTS ARTISTS EXCLUSIVELY decide they want to perform their original music together in a show and book it at a venue who is not licensed by the PRO's and charge a $15 ticket price, they can't do so if they are members of a PRO's? If this is the case something in PRO's needs to be changed or maybe artists should not be members until they start getting national and international air play.

If I Play a Song by Jak Kelly at a venue who is liscensed by the PRO's how is Jak Kelly paid for me performing his song?

If an advertisement pops up on a site where Jak Kelly is promoting or selling his music how is Jak Kelly getting paid?

So maybe in this case scenario being a member of a PRO and owning your copyrights does not benefit you? So sorry Jak I'll stop playing your song because you are a member of ASCAP and your not going to see a nickel of the money anyways.

What I would like to know is what the PRO's are doing to get regional artists airplay on the commercial radio stations in their area?

If you don't like it, work to change the law. But if you do, it will cause the end of commercial music as we know it. Be careful what you wish for.

Well Brian the system as we know it is already changing whether some like it or not including the PRO's. Technology sells and it's hard to put a damper on in industry which is ruling the markets with digital devices. What is wrong with changing the system as we know it? Commercial radio has been a closed Payola system since it's progress in the 50's. Record companies have raked so many Artists and snuffed out potential competitors in their niche markets making it harder for a local regionl act to earn a decent living without playing covers. Don't get me wrong I enjoy many of the artists I have been introduced to through commercial radio, but more and more daily I am finding independent artists Like Jak Kelly right here in the Tampa Bay Area who are better or just as good as what is being played on the old school top 40. And these are the real issues I believe the PRO's should be addressing especially if you are a paying member and its a chance in a trillion as to whether or not your going to get a fair trade piece of the pie. It is a great time for Independent artists to get creative with promotion of a local music scene and all earn what they are worth or should I say an equitable living wage. If I was walking down the Main St. of any town in our region and asked 1000 people if they had ever heard of Jak Kelly I might get 1 depending on where I was at and it would be a Cold Day In FLA. "You Don't Know Jak" I do, and more than 1 in 10'000 needs to too, too to too to. (Wait a minute thats a song where did I hear it hmmm). Okay enough nonsense, Everybody knows music sells and the more familiar they become with it the more they want to see these artists live and Herbie Gaines said it clearly "2,700,000 people" sells a lot of advertising and why shouldn't the artists in the Tampa Bay region get a bigger piece of it by being played exclusively or in part with national acts. If it sounds "ANGRY" or like a "BAD BAD IDEA", may Woody Guthrie RIP. So for now rather than going to the local Wal-Mart to buy the next greatest American Idol song performed like Dolly McBride, Toby Garth Chesty, or Beouncey Abdueling banjo , I'm gonna put in my earbuds press play on my digital sony prorieatary after market device and listen to the BIBC Blue Island Beer Club and soak up some Rays on a Chilly FLA day. Hope the wind dies for their performance tomorrow night at "The Eternal Florida Music is Medicine Show" at Jolli Mon's Grill and hope the owners ASCAP licensing fees are paid up in case someone decides to play a Jak Kelly song so he can make a nickel.

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/20/09 05:02 PM.


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Brilliant writing, Brian! Thanks for explaining it better than I could.
I am a member of ASCAP (other members of my band use BMI for their original music). I have gotten paid from ASCAP.
As a venue, you should pay the PRO fees (it is part of the cost of opening up a venue that uses music- live or recorded- to keep or attract people). You should also be paying the musicians performing a fair wage too- I don't think a venue going out of business that refused to pay the fees and the musicians a decent wage 'screws' the musicians- you may have a great place with great people, but this is business- this isn't just me playing 'weekend rock star' and needing a kind and gentle place to perform. This is how I pay my bills and feed my family. There are plenty of places out there with enough money to pay both the fees and the musicians, and those are the ones who should be supported in the long run- those are the venues who really support the artists and our local music scene.

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It's the blind who can't tell who picks your pocket. For some, the more they think they are part of the Great the more they believe in their own Greatness.

If anyone believes that these organizations serve more musicians than they hurt they are blind fools.
namaste
papos

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Scotty Lee,

You really need to read a book or two on the music industry. I suggest John Braheny's The Craft and Business of Songwriting.

Most of what you said is wrong or misguided. And it's apparent that you are mixing Record Labels and their actions in the music industry with the PRO's and their collections of Royalties. The two have ZERO in common. It's literally Apples and Oranges. PRO's pay songwriters and not artists. They have nothing to do with any bad things a record label has ever done. In truth the PRO's fight with the Labels constantly to make sure their songwriters that they represent are paid fairly and their songs are used correctly. It's two very different entities with very different purposes. If you mix them in your apparent anger, it simply makes it impossible for you to understand the realities of how the business works. That's okay.. everyone has to learn. But you're raging against the wrong machine and mixing the issues.

If Jak Kelly belongs to a PRO, then he gave them the right and responsibility to collect royalties due when his works are used. Because it is impossible (and neither the venues nor the radio stations nor the PRO's wants it) to track each song that is performed in each venue in the world, they must use the same formula they use for radio play to pay out those funds. These rules are clearly in place and if Jak joined a PRO, it was he that approved and endorsed those policies by joining. If he didn't understand what he was doing, that isn't the fault of the PRO.

Venues have no god given right to play people's music for their customers. They must pay for it the same as they must pay their cable bill. It's really the same. You pay one bill and all the stations on it can be viewed as much or little as you want. Music is licensed in much the same way. You pay one fee and you can have as much or as little music as you want. The songwriters have no choice in the matter. The must allow people to use their music. And in exchange, the must be compensated and their collection agents are the PRO's.

PRO's are controlled by their voting membership. In the case of ASCAP, they are owned and operated by the songwriters themselves. In BMI's case, it is a board that isn't the songwriters, but is a non profit and operates very similarly to ASCAP. SESAC is much much smaller than the other two is a privately run FOR PROFIT entity. I know people who are happy members of all 3 and who make their full time livings via their earnings there. If you want to earn from your songs, get some local and regional airplay. Also get your material onto Pandora or Last FM or AOL Radio or CBS Radio and you'll get royalties. Our JPF Channel on Virgin Digital for 7 years earned hundreds of our members royalty checks on airplay there ALONE. Don't blame songwriters for expecting what is due to them. And if the songwriters themselves have a complaint, it's usually because they didn't bother to actually learn how the profession works and how the PRO they CHOSE works. You can't blame PRO's for the ignorance of others. The fault lies with venues who can't be bothered to learn the laws governing their own business.

And to Papos, you can be as sarcastic as you like, but it doesn't make you smart or knowledgeable on this issue. PRO's do NOT serve musicians. They have nothing to DO with musicians.

Really guys, this is Music Business 101 entry level stuff here. Please learn what you're talking about before getting angry and attacking the wrong people. PRO's owe musicians NADA. They have no responsibilities to them in any way. PERIOD.

If you want to be professionals in the music business, then learn how things work. If you don't want to learn how things work, then don't complain when you don't succeed commercially in music. It's okay to be happy playing free shows at legal venues and leave the money making to serious pros who do their homework and learn their craft. But getting angry for the wrong reasons at the wrong people and raging here on a music industry message board just looks bad to those who actually know what is going on.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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"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..." -Brian Austin Whitney

"Sometimes all you have to do to inspire humans to greatness is to give them a reason and opportunity to do something great." -Brian Austin Whitney
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Hi, Brian!

Thank you so much for the information. I'm, obviously, very interested in the subject and if my understanding has been tainted by misinformation which I've helped perpetuate, then I apologize.

I have a very deep respect and appreciation for the musicians that I book to that play, so, understandably, when I'm told I'm *stealing* from those musicians, I go on the defense. Maybe my defensiveness blocked out the information that would've helped me understand the structure a little bit better, but I’m very eager to learn new things, so perhaps you can help clarify a few things for me. smile

1. If, as you said, there is no surveying of small venues because it is not cost effective, then how are the monies collected from these venues disseminated to the artists who perform at these venues?

2. If the artists who perform at these venues are not given a percentage of the fees collected, is there some sort of general payout given to *all* of your artists each year from the fund that the small venues pay into?

The place I book music for is a small, independent coffee shop that pays local musicians to play their original songs. It seems to me as an outsider that that should be the end of it. All of the things you’ve stated in your post above make it so confusing... without any apparent benefit to the musicians that are actually doing all the work. But, again, I am an outsider and don’t know what potential benefit our musicians may actually be getting if we did pay those fees. So, let my education begin! smile

Jessie

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If one decides to be an insurance salesman, one has to get a license, which entails learing all the language of insurance and understanding who is affected by what, how the money flows, and what happens in EVERY event that could happen to their clients...ever read your insurance policy? Me neither. If you're a lawyer, you have to pass the bar and understand all the procedures, rules, regulations, consequences...Even to just be a nurse, all the medical terms, how to administer care, how to do they paperwork, etc...

We amateur musicians and songwriters tend to think all that matters is the music...we mostly overlook that all those professional elements of a JOB...that professionals such as those in the above cases HAVE to learn...FAIR OR NOT...Brian is trying to explain to us how things work...it's very confusing to me also...I admit it...I don't really get it ! ! But if I want to play the game, I BETTER learn the rules, right? If I get out on the football field and flatten the receiver when the ball is in the air, it's interference and my team is penalized...not getting the rule is no excuse. OK, at the risk of sounding even dumber, I have questions to add to Jessie's

1 So since Jak is ASCAP, he can NOT play at the unlicensed venue?
Even his OWN music, right?
2 If someone plays MY song and I am ASCAP, they collect a fee from the VENUE, not the artist (he gets it for free?)
3 That fee will likely NEVER get to me, because I am too small of an artist to be on their radar, correct?
4 I have a video of me doing a Springsteen tune on my myspace page...OK, I owe the writer nothing for performing the song?
Do I need any license to legally have it there?
5 I have a video of a song there I cowrote with Heather and SHE has a PRO, I don't...Is that a problem...?
MAN this is all confusing to me, is it just cause I'm a rookie?


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Brian I appreciate your response here, and I understand everything you are saying. I'm not interested in the old way of doing business. I asked some very good questions and I was expecting a direct answer if you have one. Jessie hit on pretty much the same thing. I can earn a living playing covers, I've done it, it gets old, I'm just inputting ideas of new ways of conducting business. Innovation has always been the key to change. I think I asked some very good questions and hope others agree. So if anybody thinks I'm out of line I apologize and enlighten me as to how. So you are saying the law is: if I release my copyrighted material as my own publisher and without being a member of a PRO, anybody can control and use my material without my permission? I can't play them at my own promoted shows and solicit advertisers wherever I choose for whatever fee I decide is fair and equitable including broadcast outlets unless they are paying the PRO's for licensing fees?

So if you have answers to my questions please respond here. If you don't I'll wait until somebody else does.

Brian-If Jak Kelly belongs to a PRO, then he gave them the right and responsibility to collect royalties due when his works are used. Because it is impossible (and neither the venues nor the radio stations nor the PRO's wants it) to track each song that is performed in each venue in the world, they must use the same formula they use for radio play to pay out those funds. These rules are clearly in place and if Jak joined a PRO, it was he that approved and endorsed those policies by joining. If he didn't understand what he was doing, that isn't the fault of the PRO.

I'm not blaming or trying to get down on the PRO's for anything really. It's a free choice to join or not to join. Some people have no need or desire to operate in these confines. They want to perform their own music anywhere any time for who ever wants to listen for whatever amount they feel they are worth.

So seeing you've taken so much interest in the topic and you obviously know more than I. Can you please answer my question directly with a yes or no. If the answer is yes and you care too, what are the implications. I also added some questions about the likes of myspace advertising and such. Thanks again for taking the time to respond as I have to describe these situations.

Peace On and Offshore,
Scotty Lee

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/20/09 07:50 PM.


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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney


I wish more folks would take the time to learn the truth about all of this and how it works. It's clear from the discussion above there is a lot of misinformation and misdirected anger and blame. And even if you are playing your OWN songs, if you co-wrote a single one of them with an ASCAP, BMI or SESAC member, or ARE ONE yourself, then those PRO's have every right to collect a full year's license fee. You can thank the government for that. If you don't like it, work to change the law. But if you do, it will cause the end of commercial music as we know it. Be careful what you wish for.

Brian


Jessie In here I think is the answer to our simple question without the confusion.

If you have artist play there original music at your venue and they are licensed via the PRO's you have to pay.
If you have artists who's original material is not licensed through the PRO's they can play and you don't have to pay.

Please correct me if I'm wrong thanks again Brian and thanks for the forum and maybe Jessie will book me for an evening and I will drop a donation in the JPF box. Which I have been feeling quite guilty about, but money's been tight.

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee



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You have to pay. Okay. I get that. I get that that's the law.

But...<sheepishly raises hand>...why? How does it benefit the songwriter? Do they get a cut of the fees that a venue like us would have to pay? And how will a change in the rules ruin commercial music and, by extension, life on the earth as we know it?

I'm not anti-establishment. I *promise*. I am but a humble grasshopper thirsting for knowlege and an answer to the worst of all questions. "Why?" smile

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Jessie,

The PROs do pay royalties to the songwriters who wrote the songs that are performed publicly (based on some complex formula) using the funds they collect from radio and venues like yours. That is why the PROs exist. This is separate from what an artist might earn from performing or recording a song.


Colin

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http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


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Jessie: 1. If, as you said, there is no surveying of small venues because it is not cost effective, then how are the monies collected from these venues disseminated to the artists who perform at these venues?

Brian: The cost of surveying all small venues would cost more per venue than your license fee. Once the process was paid for, there would be NOT money left to pay ANYONE except the beauracracy that had to monitor it all. So the PRO's have decided (as voted by their own membership) to use Radio play models to pay out ALL monies collected. That means if 999 dollars is collected from radio play and 1 dollar from the venues (which is likely fairly close since I believe the money brought in by all venues is very tiny compared to all other licensing) it is put in the pool of 1000 dollars. That 1000 is now divided by airplay results and that money, minus the cost of administration, is paid out to the members who show up on the surveys. The songwriter members agreed via their PRO rules to collect and distribute their money that way. The money does NOT go to artists. NEVER. It goes to the songwriters of the songs performed. This doesn't cheat artists because artists are never entitled to that money in the first place. (Side Note: There are people, myself included, who are working to force radio and venues to also pay a royalty to the performing artists. We fought that battle and won with Internet Radio. Now we're working on getting it from Terrestrial radio. After that we'll go to get it from venues so that both the songwriters and perfomers of those songs get compensation. The US is the ONLY western country in the world that doesn't pay a performer royalties on radio play. Because of that, our artists not only get screwed from what should be a large part of their income, but they also lose all income from foreign sources because those countries hold our royalties and pay them to their own artists as compensation to make up what their artists didn't get paid in the US for airplay. It sucks. We're fighting to change that).

Let me emphasize again. That money is NEVER paid to the artists playing at a venue. It's not an artist royalty. It's a songwriter royalty ONLY.

Jessie: 2. If the artists who perform at these venues are not given a percentage of the fees collected, is there some sort of general payout given to *all* of your artists each year from the fund that the small venues pay into?

Brian: Again, artists NEVER get that royalty. It doesn't belong to them. If the artists also happen to be songwriters, and they are registered with a PRO, then according to the rule of their PRO, they get paid based on overall % of airplay their songs receive across the USA. If a writer in your venue isn't getting any radio airplay, or not enough to show up on a survey, they won't get any of that money. But here is the KEY ISSUE. It's not YOUR CONCERN. That money is going to Federally mandated collection entity which is the PRO whick issues BLANKET licenses to a venue to play ANY music created by ANY writer as much as they like, at their choice. If you choose to only have 1 registered artist song played in your venue in an entire year, that is your choice. Someone above already admitted to playing a cover in your venue. That means you own the money. It's like getting cable TV. You can watch as much or as a little of it as you want. But you get billed the same. The money that you pay to the cable company goes to the creators of the content based on THEIR pay out system to those people. The same thing essentially happens with music. The difference is that creators of film and video content CAN refuse to let someone play their material.. songwriters (and musicians if playing a recording) have no such control or choice. That is mandated by law to give the advantage and benefit to the venues, not the songwriters. This is ALL slanted toward the venues. In the USA, venues pay the least amount of money for music than any other country by a significant margin. The truth is that you don't even realize how good you have it. But that good deal already comes at the expense of the songwriting community. The truth is that your special interest group (Restaurants and Venues) is much much larger and more powerful than the Music Industry special interest that protect songwriters or performers. Right now performers get totally screwed because their is no royalty or licensing. Songwriters get a smaller amount than anywhere else in the Western world. That's why it's so ironic, and frankly offensive, when veues complain about their music licensing fees.

Still confused?

Brian


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Jessie: But...<sheepishly raises hand>...why? How does it benefit the songwriter? Do they get a cut of the fees that a venue like us would have to pay? And how will a change in the rules ruin commercial music and, by extension, life on the earth as we know it?

Brian: If that law was changed, you would not likely ever be able to have live music again. The reason is that any and every time you had any songs performed, you would have to verify, before they were played, that you had contractual permission given by the writer of each song to play that song and you'd paid them or made arrangements contractually for that. In a given night, if 40 songs were performed, you'd have to have individual agreements for EACH song because songwriters would have complete control of usage and performance of their songs in every cicumstance. If someone played a single song that you hadn't pre-cleared with a contract, you could be sued for big dollars for each infringement (right now I think it is 10K per infringement). That's intentionally punitive to keep you from infringing. So, in a given year, you'd be setting yourself up for 10's of thousands of lawsuits and if it was proven those songs had in fact been performed, you would have no defense and would lose 100% of the time if sued. Imagine the nightmare of a single lawsuit? Now imagine 10, 100, 1000. This is not an exaggeration. It's a reality. The blanket license fees means "all you can eat." It's up to you to decide if the investment in live music is worth it and if you'll get your money back from a business point of view. It's the same if you buy new napkins or table cloths or a new sign or carpeting.

If the Beatles songwriters (lennon/mccartney or harrison) could say only certain radio stations or only certain venues could play their music, and that would come at a fee of 1000 times more than they have to pay now, and then you'd have to negotiate with every other songwriter for every song. And if a performing artist lied and didn't tell you that they had a co-writer on a song they played? You could be sued for that. It would literally make it impossible to have live music. It would be far too cumbersom on everyone. Lawsuits would bury the industry. So the solution was to make it EASY for venues. Make no mistake, songwriters of ALL levels make less money because the venues get to have blanket licenses via the PRO's. But the fact that more venues will use live music legally is hoped to balance out that loss of income with more chances to actually get paid as a group. It's up to the members of the PRO's to set up payment scenarios once that money is collected that they collectively agree on and they do. Whether you think that system is fair or not means nothing. It's really none of your business. That issue is solely between the songwriter and their PRO, not the venue. The venue has no interest and no say as it should be. Just as you, as the customer who pays for cable, can't argue that the History channel is what you watch most of the time so they should get ALL of your monthly bill money. It doesn't work that way. It's a collective agreement. It's all you can eat. If you choose to eat indie songwriters music that doesn't get any airplay, that is not the fault or concern of the PRO.

Are you understand yet?

Brian


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Scotty Lee,

Your questions sort of sprawls and is really at least 2 questions. I think these were the questions you wanted answers to:

Scotty Lee: So you are saying the law is: if I release my copyrighted material as my own publisher and without being a member of a PRO, anybody can control and use my material without my permission?

Brian: Yes. That is the law. Once it's been released for commercial sale, then anyone else can record it or perform it. If they record it, they pay a mechanical license fee via Harry Fox. If they perform it, they pay NOTHING. That's because it would be too difficult to follow every single human around to collect when they sang a song. So everyone has the free right to sing any song they want for free. The payment responsibility falls on the VENUE. And to make that cheap and easy they are asked to pay a blanket license fee.

Scotty Lee: I can't play them at my own promoted shows and solicit advertisers wherever I choose for whatever fee I decide is fair and equitable including broadcast outlets unless they are paying the PRO's for licensing fees?

You can play them any and everywhere without concern. It's not YOUR job or RESPONSIBILITY to know if someone obeyed the law and paid their license fee. But it IS the responsibility of the venue where you perform that music for others to pay the license fee. So as a performer, you can do Bob Dylan songs or your own. If both are licensed by a PRO, they have the same requirements to the VENUE, but none to the performer. If you play it at home or at a private event, it usually doesn't require a license, though if you gave regular house concerts there is some debate. I believe all of the PRO's can offer info on what venues must pay or not. Last I heard house concerts were exempt. But check with the PRO's if you're going to host one for sure.

All these things you can learn on your own by simply reading John's Braheny's book. How anyone can consider themselves a professional in this industry but not bother to learn these very basic facts or concepts when the info is so readily available (and most libraries have it for free.. also see Jason Blumes books as another option and there are many others). Those guys writer books professionally and will likely explain all of this in even better and easier terms than I can.

Brian


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John's Braheny's book is on my shopping list for tomorrow. Thanks Brian!

I've been receiving quarterly checks from ASCAP for several years (TV placements), however, though my work is being played on the Internet (photobucket, etc), I haven't received anything for these plays (other than the half the company's licensing fees). Here's one of many: http://s430.photobucket.com/albums/qq24/___who___/?action=view&current=1b1b10d8.pbr

I heard ASCAP sets aside money for Internet plays, but only a small group of big names receive any of this money. I've written ASCAP about this on many occasions, but have not received any answers.

Maybe John's Braheny's book covers this topic???

Anyway, thanks for all the info Brian!

Best, John

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Originally Posted by Jessie
You have to pay. Okay. I get that. I get that that's the law.

But...<sheepishly raises hand>...why? And how will a change in the rules ruin commercial music and, by extension, life on the earth as we know it?
I'm not anti-establishment. I *promise*. I am but a humble grasshopper thirsting for knowlege and an answer to the worst of all questions. "Why?" smile


In my opinion, I think it will make commercial radio better when they see there is a wealth of talent right here in the Tampa Bay area they can tap into on a regional basis. Then maybe it will be easier to get establishments like Jessies a paying audience on a regular basis. It has certainly been great for WMNF and I love what Studio 10 does with their morning show and they are properly licensed via PRO's. Or many of the great people here who are hosting House Concerts who are not licensed. It would be a shame if they cracked down on all the Assited Living Facilities and Nursing Homes in the State of Florida without a license. Maybe they are I don't know, but musicians are definately getting paid to play covers there. It's a wonderful thing to see a group of people light up like Christmas Trees when the music day roles around and they hear the first chord played and the voices ring. They have many activities scheduled there, but the one that fills up with all the residents is the music. I understand the way licensing of music works in the established business plan, but it impedes the endeavours of many artists who want to work out of a domain other than a plan now which is failing in my eyes. I bet many agree it's been failing them for a long time. I personally don't want to have to move to a music mecca just so I can snub noses with the who's who of the music business in the hopes I may get a song picked up recorded and become a hit. I know very talented musicians and performers who got out of the business for the very same reasons we're talking about here, and it's a sad shame they will be forever forgotten other than their small circle of friends. Man Bruce Springsteen and Dave Alvin hit the nail on the head with their public domain records. Play more public domain and you'll be okay.

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/20/09 10:52 PM.


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Whew,
I seem to have opened a major can of squiggleys here by forwarding some information I'd received that I thought would inspire some movement on our board.
Little did I know....
I AM a proud member of a "PRO" as a songwriter and publisher.
and do receive royalties from them on occation, mostly for overseas radio action, I also recieve "mechanicals" from Harry Fox agency for songs recorded by others that I have written.
anyone that knows me can tell you that I by no means make a living from this.I have to hustle gigs like anyone else here
sometimes successfully , sometimes not so.
I have performed for many years in every situation from living rooms, to concert halls, to stadiums to chicken wire bars.
My gift (or curse) has taken me half way around the world in my life. And now that I'm geting older, and really don't play the kind of music that is "in" at the moment, I don't work as much as I may like to but, I'm content with what I've had. and I still get quarterly envelopes from A.S.C.A.P. either containing a check for less than the stamp on the outside, or an accounting of my lack of radio action.
Oh Well, No hard feelings, I'd rather be a has been, than a never was at all.
I aint givin up yet!

Thanks for the great explanations for the rest of us Brian.


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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Scotty Lee,


Scotty Lee: I can't play them at my own promoted shows and solicit advertisers wherever I choose for whatever fee I decide is fair and equitable including broadcast outlets unless they are paying the PRO's for licensing fees?

You can play them any and everywhere without concern. It's not YOUR job or RESPONSIBILITY to know if someone obeyed the law and paid their license fee. But it IS the responsibility of the venue where you perform that music for others to pay the license fee. So as a performer, you can do Bob Dylan songs or your own. If both are licensed by a PRO, they have the same requirements to the VENUE, but none to the performer. If you play it at home or at a private event, it usually doesn't require a license, though if you gave regular house concerts there is some debate. I believe all of the PRO's can offer info on what venues must pay or not. Last I heard house concerts were exempt. But check with the PRO's if you're going to host one for sure.


Brian


Brian, thanks for being so patient, Sorry to trouble you one more time. My question above should read I can't play my own songs which are copyrighted by me, but not licensed by the PRO's, and promote and solicit advertisers where ever I choose I was not asking about covers by Bob Dylan or anyone elses at all. Your answer sounds confusing to me.

Case Scenario, A local Brewery in the Tampa Bay Area wants to sponsor me along with several other businesses. They have no plans to establish markets out side of the region. They say Scotty we would like to sponsor you because we think your songs and image represent the product we're trying to sell. Could we use your song on our website and pay you to make a banner with our business logo and names on it. We also want to pay you to play at establishments selling our product, They don't have entertainment at any other time so they don't pay the PRO's. How much will it cost? I come up with a fee, they pay me the money and only the Taxman gets a cut of the rest. Oh yeah they also want me to put their ad on my website and there is where my song samples are played and CD's are sold.

Can it be negotiated without Harry Fox and The PRO's?

Thanks Brian answer this one and I'll get the book.

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/20/09 11:36 PM.


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There's not really a question in the Scotty. Can WHAT be negotiated? If you aren't already a member of a PRO, then there's nothing to negotiate. If someone has YOU play and you never play anything other than YOUR music and you are not registered with a PRO, then there's no issue. My point was that a venue who books various artists throughout a year can almost never make sure that they never play a song that is registered with a PRO. One slip up and they are on the hook for all fees at the max rate and they have no recourse but to pay if challenged.

In this specific scenario, as you describe it, there's no involvement by a PRO because you're not a member of one and your music (assuming you haven't co-written with someone who IS a member of a PRO) has no licensing issues.

Harry Fox only collects on copies of music made by someone other than the songwriter. In your case, you'd be releasing your own music, so there's no one to pay. If you had co-written a song with another songwriter, then you'd have to pay them their share of the mechanical fees for each copy. This has NOTHING to do with a PRO. They have no connection. Harry Fox exists to collect and dispurse mechanical royalties to songwriters whose songs have been recorded by someone else. PRO's (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) exist to pay royalties to songwriters whose songs have been performed to the public via recording or live in some venue. They are two completely different and unrelated things.

This is why you desperately need to educate yourself on how the business works. John's book is a good starting point from the songwriter point of view. I think Jason Blume has another book about the wider music industry that is also worth checking out. And we have many other options, but all of them will teach you a great deal about how things actually work so that you can conduct your music career with facts and truths and not rumors and bad information. No one can conduct good business if you have no idea how the business you're in works. At best you can muddle away inefficiently in the dark.

In the time we've collectively spent on this long set of posts most of you could have read a good chunk of John's book. If you can't afford to buy a copy, most libraries have it for free. I think you can buy a copy from John's site directly and think he'd make a little more money from a direct sell, so go that way if possible. www.johnbraheny.com You can also get additional help from John there. Tell him I sent you. I don't get a commission or anything, I just want him to know we appreciate his long career of work to help the songwriting community. Without guys like John Braheny, there would probably be no JPF to follow in his footsteps.

Brian


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"That's why it's so ironic, and frankly offensive, when veues complain about their music licensing fees."

It's clear that I've offended you and I really, honestly, did not intend to.

I'm fumbling with myself and my thoughts here because I really want to try to re-express my concerns since I'm feeling a little misunderstood, but am also keenly aware that it's not really going to make a difference. I guess I'm just an old hippy at heart, so all this talk of litigious ramifications and dire consequence for the sake of a songwriter to sing his(her) song is raising my blood pressure a bit. smile So, in the interest of not belaboring the issue, I'll concede and simply say thank you for taking the time to respond to me.





Okay...maybe I can't. I *have* to say this....

For what it's worth, in an economy that is as depressed as it is, with our competing coffee houses shutting down right and left around us, the Bunker paid over $15,000 last year to the *songwriters* that played at our venue.

I'm going to keep the sadder knowledge about our profits in comparison to myself, but, in case any of you think of us now as the cold hearted place that won't pay thousands of dollars to multiple organizations so that they, in turn, WON'T pay the songwriters who play here because "they're not enough to show up on a survey"... please don't. We try, REALLY hard, to be a place that fosters local musicians. And in all honesty, we simply can not afford to pay more for those yearly licenses. We would LOVE to. We just can't.

So now I just don't know what to do.

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Originally Posted by Jak Kelly
Yes, I do all original music.And all of it is published.
but the catch 22 may be that the club has to buy the licences so I can play MY songs .
Just a thought. Maybe Brian can fill us in on this conundrum.


Well the answer has been defined. Thank you Brian. It is too bad. This is a case where it is not a benefit for an artist to have there music licensed via the PRO's. I would bet money too, a venue wanting to have live original music could have a contract with the original artists performing there as to not include any licensed material and the responsibility would become the performers. They can play their own and any public domain songs as long as their music isn't licensed by the PRO's. Roger McGuinn has a website set up with over 100 public domain songs. You'd be surprised. Sloop John B., Midnite Special, just do a search check it out. So here is how it works. Your not a member of a PRO's you can perform your own material at Jessies place and she does not need a license and if your of the caliber songwriters we have in the Tampa Bay you wont have to play a cover and you can give her a guarantee. The reason I was concerned is I was hoping to promote a show with artists like Jak Kelly (Jak Kelly puts on one hell uva show) team him up with a couple of other original songwriters from around the Tampa Bay Area and bring it to select venues not licensed because they normally do not provide entertainment. Give the show a name, find sponsors just like a little league baseball team, create a banner with the show name on it and advertisers logo, charge a ticket price, say $15. and fill a room seating 40-70 people. I can't use Jak and that is a damn shame. Here's how it would work. A Podcast could be created and posted on a site like Mellow Melodies of the artists songs who will be performing and a sampler CD could be given along with the ticket purchased. (The Catch 22 here is if Mellow Melodies is playing any licensed music she is not in compliance with the current Laws and if she accepts any money for what she is doing she has to pay Harry Fox and that is a Damn Shame) The show would be promoted on table tents at the venue with a Poster on the door. It could be advertised in a communities paper like the Suncoast News. Potential audience could get a listen to the music, and decide if it was something they would enjoy. I'm sure they would. Premium entertainment without the $100 dollar price tag. An example of a viable venue is hosting one of those Murder Mystery Plays. The price is $25 and includes dinner and a drink and is scheduled a month in advance. I asked the manager how the sales are going and they tell me it will be sold out. It got my wheels turning as a good way to promote and put songwriters in the Tampa Bay area into a decent paying Gig. I can't use Jak Kelly and that is a crying shame. Do the Math, $15 X $70 = $1050 + any local advertisers who would want to be promoted for a fee on the banner, website, and any paper ads, in the hopes to cover the cost of promotional material. Now the word gets out, and you get some other artists who find a couple of venues in their neck of the woods and have a top performer like Jak headlining the show and you start rotating monthly dates at several venues you could be working every Saturday a month making a premium dollar for your efforts unlike what the PRO's licensed clubs are giving artists even of Jak's stature. Kraig Kenning who was the featured performer at The Eternal Florida Music is Medicine Show last week hit the nail on the head, you have to get the Public to Pay for the entertainment not the venue. You will also have a captivated audience unlike what you sometimes get in a traditional Bar Gig playing Jimmy Buffet and Eagles covers. And you know what I would call somebody representing the PRO's trying to shut it down? You would think a show like this the Artists themselves could pay an annual licensing fee and play anyones material they choose. Just food for thought! I wonder if there is a way to unlicense your music?

Peace On and Offshore,
Scotty Lee

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee

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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Can WHAT be negotiated? If you aren't already a member of a PRO, then there's nothing to negotiate.
Brian


There is something to negotiate, I'm using my music and image to represent businesses in a local region without licensing my music through the PRO's and charging a fee for it. Florida has always been a right to work State. It is part of what I do for living or could be completely what I do for living.



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Scotty, that sounds like SUCH a fun idea. smile

Okay. Moving forward. 2009 is the year of Change, Hope, and unlikely underdogs pushing on despite all odds. I shouldn't have gone where I did in my post about financial reality in this economy. Yes, we're a little place, but we've got a big heart and we can DO this.

YES WE CAN! smile

So! Fostering local, independent musicians. That's what we do, right? How can we keep doing it? How can you as a songwriter (and *I*...once I get over my stage freight & learn to play a guitar) continue to profit from having a venue that really cherishes local music and will pay for it?

If we only book artists that are not affiliated with ASCAP, BMI and Sesac and must sign a document listing all the songs they will play and confirming that they do, indeed, own the rights to play them...then we can keep on keepin' on. Right?

Because if that's all it takes, then I am READY to be watch dog and really, REALLY enforce the rules. And I think people "get" us... they GET that we don't *want* to hear covers. We *want* to hear original, independent, quirky thoughts. We *want* to be a place you can go to to hear something you can't hear anywhere else. We want to be an incubator for budding songwriters, and a lifelong friend of longtime songwriters.

And, if a songwriter takes him or herself seriously enough to really ride the music industry bull, then they can hop on the BMI/ASCAP/Sesac bus and carry on. We'll give 'em a big wet kiss and wish them the most awesome luck. And then we'll turn to the next crop of new talent that need a place that will support them as they grow their musical careers.

So. That's what we'll do. All in favor, say "aye."

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First of all, I'd really like to know exactly what the fee the PRO's are asking you to pay? If you're a small coffee shop, those license fees generally run around 600 dollars give or take. That's less than 2 dollars a day or the price of a cup of coffee at most coffee shops these days. (I have no idea what you charge for food and drinks but I spent a lot of time touring the USA and doing shows in all types of venues). If the artist performing doesn't bring in an additional 2 dollars per day on average to cover the cost of the license, then you are booking the wrong artists. It's really that simple.

In the case of this situation, remember, one single slip up and you owe the entire year's license fee. It is impossible for you to book artists all year and not have a single one make that mistake. I've seen venues TRY that tactic and fail. It also means that you can only book amateurs. If someone isn't even affiliated with a PRO, that means that are not commercially viable and will never earn money from their music via radio play, internet radio play or live performance. It also means they can NEVER play a song written by a professional writer who is registered with a PRO. It also means they can never perform a song that have co-written with someone in a PRO. And how exactly are you going to KNOW who wrote the songs that they performed Jessie? Why even take the risk?

Either you're in business to present live music or you aren't. This half pregnant approach will fail when the baby inevitably comes. Why not go the other direction and pay the license fees and hire OUTSTANDING PRO artists who play the best songs from all sources including their own? That way you give a much higher level of entertainment to your customers and you're supporting the songwriting community. Did you know that ASCAP has a program where their members who perform out regularly can apply for money even when they don't show up on airplay results? It's called ASCAP Plus. I know many artists who make a few hundred to a few thousand dollars EVERY SINGLE YEAR from that program by simply showing where and when they did gigs playing their own songs and showing, when available, times and dates and stations where their music was played on the radio.

Can you find some people to perform that are amateurs and have no interest in making a full time living from music that are good enough to make it work? Sure. But one slip up and you put everything at risk. And remember, the PRO's have never lost a lawsuit. And if they can prove even a single infringement, you have to pay the fees plus lawyer fees and possibly other penalties if you try and fight it.

It seems you don't like the very program created by venue owners and radio stations who wanted to pay as little as possible for using music as much as they wanted? You really have it all backwards. This is your great chance to get fantastic entertainment for your customers for a dirt cheap price as often as you want. This isn't some shady mysterious issue. It's simply business 101. You take the amount of the license fee, you consider how much extra money you make when you have live music and you determine if live music makes you more money or less? In most cases, live music makes a venue, when they do it right and hire the right performers, a LOT more money than it costs to pay for licenses and do it all above board and legally. It also allows those artists you love to join a PRO and work towards becoming serious artists/writers who can pursue either a part time or full time living from their music. That's what everyone should want right? Everyone wins.

The time and effort you'll spend tring to get around the system that is already in your favor to start with will cost FAR more than just paying it upfront.

But it's your gig. At least now you've learned how it works. And it's great that you've paid the PERFORMERS who play at your venue. Why are you so unwilling to use a little of that money to pay the songwriters as well? You act like you're being cheated but it's really the other way around. You see the value in paying the musicians, but not the writers... sure.. some do both.. that's great. But someone on this very post already admitted that he played a cover in your venue. The cat is already out of the bag. I see so many venues try to trick the system and it nearly always fails. If not right away, eventually. And them when the s*it hits the fan, they are shocked about it. Don't be. Be professional. Have a business plan and make sure that YOU are making enough profit to stay in business. Pay your cable bill and your light bill and your food wholesale bill and your taxes and your license fees. Everyone will win if you stay in business. Even if it means paying the performing artists a little less so the songwriters get paid, so be it.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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Originally Posted by Jessie


So! Fostering local, independent musicians. That's what we do, right? How can we keep doing it? How can you as a songwriter (and *I*...once I get over my stage freight & learn to play a guitar) continue to profit from having a venue that really cherishes local music and will pay for it?

If we only book artists that are not affiliated with ASCAP, BMI and Sesac and must sign a document listing all the songs they will play and confirming that they do, indeed, own the rights to play them...then we can keep on keepin' on. Right?

So. That's what we'll do. All in favor, say "aye."


Lets set a show date for a Saturday, choose 3 unlicensed songwriters, put the promotional material together, and get it on the doors and tables at your venue at least a month in advance so you can start selling tickets there. We'll do a description of what it is all about for patrons to read. Send a personal invitation to the PRO's with a songlist so they can see for themselves we are in compliance. We need to define the Artists first. Any supporting artists will have to make sure they don't comp Chuck Berry Licks to a tee and we should be okay. We can broadcast it Live over the internet in case Harry Fox can't make it and we'll exclusively promote your establishment unless we can get some Free Trade Coffee vendor who wants to sponsor, and a document will be provided for analysis and stored on a server for the Whirlled Wide Web to see at their leisure. One C note sang just like Britney Spears could shut the whole thing down, but chances of it happening? none. How many songwriters on the Tampa Bay Area board here are unlicensed? Good place to start just let us know. I think if we can find a top notch performer to do a set of Public Domain songs would be a great addition. So you can have licensed music and play only Public Domain. It would be a nice place to start. I believe Bobby Hicks has some public domain songs? Woody Guthrie? Any suggestions from the board here?

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Okay, now we're getting somewhere. This:

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Did you know that ASCAP has a program where their members who perform out regularly can apply for money even when they don't show up on airplay results? It's called ASCAP Plus. I know many artists who make a few hundred to a few thousand dollars EVERY SINGLE YEAR from that program by simply showing where and when they did gigs playing their own songs and showing, when available, times and dates and stations where their music was played on the radio.


...changes EVERYTHING. My entire resistance and resentment to paying it, other affordability, is that NO one I've spoken with previously about the matter, from the BMI rep, to other musicians, to you, could say how our $ benefited THE. SONGWRITER.

And, semantics of "songwriter" verses "artist" aside, (since now I know that my choice of the word "artist" was irresponsible and what I really meant is "songwriter") our show is called "SONGWRITER'S Night." It's all about the WRITER. And my sense of injustice gets pricked when I think that we'll pay money that will go to someone that does not deserve it, ie: music industry giants, and NOT the person that pours their soul into their work.

I've said it previously, I don't have any problem with these organizations, but I need to know that it's actually *benefiting* the little guy. And I know that you have repeatedly stated that that should not be my concern and that I have no business caring about it, but saying that doesn't make it true. I'm not just a person that books acts. I'm a songwriter. My father's a songwriter. I flippin' care. So THANK YOU for getting to the meat and potatoes for me. Musicians CAN recoup the money. There! That's it! That's the golden egg that makes me happy.

THANK you.

See?

I'm easy. smile


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I checked out your homepage Kristy. You have an ample supply of songwriter/musicians that perform at your venue. Very impressive.

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Jessie, perhaps not "aye"...how 'bout "AMEN"?

It's been an interesting thread. My perspective is that of someone who has no desire to be a part of the "music business". I love to write and create and share that creativity with others of like-mind, but I'm, quite fortunately, not dependent upon those endeavors for my livelihood. I don't doubt that I'd have quite a different perspective if I was still trying to make a living playing and writing songs.

I'm as happy swapping songs with other writers in my living room as I am performing in public. I'm also pretty happy thumbing my nose at the establishment. And that can be the political, religious, corporate, or music biz establishment. Guess I'm an equal opportunity iconoclast.

Anyway, I'll defer the remainder of this discussion to the movers & shakers, head back to the periphery, and just climb out now and again to play a few tunes at The Bunker.


Mike

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Originally Posted by Johnny-Boy
I checked out your homepage Kristy. You have an ample supply of songwriter/musicians that perform at your venue. Very impressive.


Since I'm, well, the only girl in this thread ( smile ) I'm going to assume you're talking to me. smile THANKS! Hope to see you out sometime.

Originally Posted by Mike Worrall
Jessie, perhaps not "aye"...how 'bout "AMEN"?
......
Anyway, I'll defer the remainder of this discussion to the movers & shakers, head back to the periphery, and just climb out now and again to play a few tunes at The Bunker.


AMEN, Brotha Mike! And we'll be happy to see you!! BUT DON'T PLAY ANY FLIPPIN' COVERS!!!!!!!! heh heh heh heh heheheheheheh...

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These organizations were not formed to collect money for the little guy they were formed to collect money for the big guys. (Excuse me Little Guys = Songwriters that play their own music.) Because the big guys have money and are connected their lawyers were able to get laws passed that allowed them to exhort money from venues where little guys play.

Little guys have been lead down a path to the belief that if they gave the organizations money it would make them professionals and they then could relish in the exhortion. These lawyers are are just another Guido. Because something that is unfair and unjust has been made law we have no recourse and must pay the exhortion or change the law. Their are spys everywhere watching and listening to us (with snot running down their nose) waiting to make their next buck. My advise is to pay the fees join the PROs and admit that what Brian hails is that you are trapped no matter which way you turn their lawyers have covered the bases and intend to take your dues and the fees and divide it among themselves. This is not the only time laws have been used to exhort or control the little guys labor its been going on a long time. Playing a cover in an unlicensed venue is illegal. If it should or should not be that way is not the question the ones with the money made it illegal and that is that. We are still working for the Pharaohs. Now we can say there are three things in life we can count on Taxes, Death, and The PROs.
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney

But it's your gig. At least now you've learned how it works. And it's great that you've paid the PERFORMERS who play at your venue. Why are you so unwilling to use a little of that money to pay the songwriters as well? You act like you're being cheated but it's really the other way around. You see the value in paying the musicians, but not the writers... sure.. some do both.. that's great. But someone on this very post already admitted that he played a cover in your venue. The cat is already out of the bag. I see so many venues try to trick the system and it nearly always fails. If not right away, eventually. And them when the s*it hits the fan, they are shocked about it. Don't be. Be professional. Have a business plan and make sure that YOU are making enough profit to stay in business. Pay your cable bill and your light bill and your food wholesale bill and your taxes and your license fees. Everyone will win if you stay in business. Even if it means paying the performing artists a little less so the songwriters get paid, so be it.

Brian
The biggest complaint here is artists not getting paid enough........


The whole idea really is Brian, how do you get the commercial radio stations to tap into the local market. If they see there are quality songwriters and groups playing out in the community garnering advertising dollars and businesses see it as a way to get their name out there and start using it, you can bet the local commercial stations will tap into it. Now if we were to start getting played on the local airwaves playlist as frequently as the status quo, and the 2,700,000 potential ears begin to hear our music exclusively on a regular basis they will come out to the shows, We will see more of the advertising dollars we don't see now, and more venues will license themselves, and the public will attend more performances by the locals rather than spend a $100 on a high dollar ticket to see some foreign act depriving the local artist and venues an opportunity to thrive. The Community benefits because these dollars will be staying right here in there local community. Listen to the Playlist on www.musictampabay.com for a couple of 24 hours and tell me the majority of what you hear there wouldn't be a great playlist for a Clear Channel radio station. Is it the fault of the PRO's no. And believe me Brian there are great players of all genres here who deserve and need to be heard by a larger audience. Hopefully Wide band wireless will open these doors and the establishments wont complain about paying the PRO's. Nobody is going to come out to hear you play if they haven't heard you. Yes I agree it does help when an artist promotes themselves, but not as much as day in and day out airplay. There are thousand of people here who spend a $100 to see a international touring act only because they have heard them and they don't have the time or desire to frequent the bars and night clubs to discover or get access to the music not being heard elsewhere. The majority of the money leaves the local economy and is flown elsewhere so they can figure out a way not to have to pay taxes on it. For a $100 dollars they can bring their friends or family out for drinks and dinner building support for some challenged business to get in the game. I challenge you to come to the Tampa Bay Area and try to earn a decent living, including Insurance, and other costs performing anybodies material. It is all about fair trade and I can't believe you don't see it. Networking with the publishers and music mecca's elsewhere takes time and travel. Personally I think we have the talent to make it better here without the hoopla of the national or international attention.



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Oops! Sorry Jessie! I just reviewed something of Krisy's and the name stuck in my head.

John

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I guess you could always have a benefit to pay the fees, so you don't have to worry about it anymore. I don't think it is possible to reliably find good songwriters that don't belong to PROs, since as a songwriter, it offers so many benefits (hey, I get health and dental!).
I think it is too much to risk it, or at the very least, clearing all the performers- another venue which regularly pays might be an option as well- if they have music on the weekends, or play the radio, chances are they pay the PRO fees.

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As a veteran open mike goer in a large city...and I will risk the wrath of those excited about the no PRO shows...Even if you guys try...I predict that using ONLY non-pro members, playing ONLY non-pro songs...that the quality of those shows and songs will fall FAR short to keep your idea going for long...sry...just being realistic...your friends will come out twice or three times a year to hear you...the other people? You are competing with internet, TV, movies, games, sports, sex, drugs..and in a remote control world where people just click to the NEXT thing when they are bored for one second? People hardly can sit through shows by people that are AMAZING...and you're going to pull this off with complete amateurs doing only their own material? Sry boys...it ain't gonna work...PLEASE don't hate me for saying it...it would've been easier to say nothing ! ! BUT as JPFers, aren't we in this all together?


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Originally Posted by Herbie Gaines
As a veteran open mike goer in a large city...and I will risk the wrath of those excited about the no PRO shows...Even if you guys try...I predict that using ONLY non-pro members, playing ONLY non-pro songs...that the quality of those shows and songs will fall FAR short to keep your idea going for long...sry...just being realistic...your friends will come out twice or three times a year to hear you...the other people? You are competing with internet, TV, movies, games, sports, sex, drugs..and in a remote control world where people just click to the NEXT thing when they are bored for one second? People hardly can sit through shows by people that are AMAZING...and you're going to pull this off with complete amateurs doing only their own material? Sry boys...it ain't gonna work...PLEASE don't hate me for saying it...it would've been easier to say nothing ! ! BUT as JPFers, aren't we in this all together?
The world is full of negative nay sayers and you have definitely underestimated the inteligence of a real American audience. It will pull communities closer together. It's what the world needs more of. I wonder why you haven't even touched on the real the real points. Basically your saying other songwriters are not as good as you. I know not everyone is a top notch performer, but give 'em a chance to put on a real show and get paid a decent cut they'll tighten it up. Look at what comes through American Idol. Personally I don't want to be the one of million who pays to have my music critiqued by supposedly industry pros in the hopes of having my song put on an american idol record. I've heard brilliant songs by not the greatest musicians in the world. Good thing Bob Dylan didn't listen to the critics. But for you Steve I hope you hit the pot of Gold with your material. I'm going to go check it out and if you want I'll tell you how great you are and won't even charge you. The biggest point here Steve is [b]are you getting major play on the radio's in Chicago? Do you think you should be? if so Why are you not? We have amazing players take The Tampa Bay Fingerstyle Guitar Guild for instance, and people do pay big money to see and sit through shows of major artists everyday of the week who are amazing players, I've heard it all. Where is the song in your heart? If you cant answer the questions in bold I'll have to take your opinions like a grain of Florida Myakka Sand.

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee

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Commercial radio stations are owned by just a few companies and generally feature easily catagorized music filtered through big bucks- sadly this is why great fingerstyle guitarists & great local songwriters (not to mention the weirdo stuff I do) are never heard on commercial radio- I don't think there is anyone here who can compete with the kind of money it takes to get on a Billboard chart, much less get the ears of a commercial Tampa station who has a playlist down to the millisecond sent to them from someone in Indiana.
BTW, I am all for giving anyone a chance to play and get paid at a booked gig- however, as a writer of music, it really isn't my concern if the venue has paid PRO fees- I actually assume they did, since they are featuring live music, and that is part of what it costs.

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Basically your saying other songwriters are not as good as you.
----------------------------------------------------------------
I am not sure what words you read, Scotty Lee, but they weren't mine...I simply said that amateur writers who have never been published (myself included in this group) will have a very hard go of it trying to entertain a coffeshop (no alchohol) group, on a consistent basis to have them come back, and come back with others on strictly their own material (heck, even Janis Ian, a brilliant songwriter who can capture and silence the crowd, AND has a 35 + yr history in song)...did a cover in her show)...I was not nay-saying...just being realistic...listen, NOTHING I'd like better than for you to prove me wrong :-)


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Originally Posted by Herbie Gaines
Basically your saying other songwriters are not as good as you.
----------------------------------------------------------------
NOTHING I'd like better than for you to prove me wrong :-)


I probably jumped to hard at your statement and I apologize. I guess I was hoping you would say here how we can prove the system as it exists is broke for many and how can we make it happen. You have some dynamic material and as you said it is hard to keep the attention with your thought provoking material of an audience for a entire 2.5 to 3 hour evening without playing a cover, but combined with the right group of other entertainers you could add a great deal to round out an exciting evening of laughter, original music, and audience without doing a cover. People are doing it all the time at house concerts. No advertisers involved. If you look at the whole picture of what I am describing here, and I have said a lot, you can see how a community based form of PRO could be a benefit without having to be internationally known. Then you would agree if you could be performing every Saturday night and putting 200 dollars in your pocket for a 1/2 hour set of your music with other artists of varying styles in a show to help themselves and help a business sustain itself and employees you would do it with out playing a single licensed song?



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Everyone wants to help the little guy make it. Everyone may have ideas as to how to help this little guy. Under the system we have with the PROs the little guy has little help. There is no reason to be satisfied with the existing status quo. The problem that I see is that the existing status quo is restricting efforts that could be made at a local level. I believe that the only way to go about correcting the system is on a local level similar to the direction Scotty is pointing. A national effort to change the way the system works puts the little guy against the Giants. Which would only result in little or no help for the little guy. The help for the little guy has to come from the local to state level. Tampa and Florida is an excellent ground for this. I think everyone wants the same result, we have different views in how to achieve the result. I for one like Scotty's local approach.

One thing we can all agree on is JPF is a tool that can help the local effort work and it provides a platform for national change. If not for JPF this discussion would be in the back of a bar on Dale Mabry Hwy.
papos

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Even in the so called other business world little guys get little if any help.
Little guys go to prison for a number of bad business decisions or loose their businesses, the big guys get bailed out.
There are a lot of local businesses closing because they can't make it in the current economy.
A sad,sick reality!
Brian Austin Whitney is right on the way that the current PRO's work.
If we are not happy with the current system then we have to try to change it.
A thousand screamers will be heard over the mouse in the corner.




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Originally Posted by Jessie
Okay, now we're getting somewhere. This:

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Did you know that ASCAP has a program where their members who perform out regularly can apply for money even when they don't show up on airplay results? It's called ASCAP Plus. I know many artists who make a few hundred to a few thousand dollars EVERY SINGLE YEAR from that program by simply showing where and when they did gigs playing their own songs and showing, when available, times and dates and stations where their music was played on the radio.


...changes EVERYTHING. My entire resistance and resentment to paying it, other affordability, is that NO one I've spoken with previously about the matter, from the BMI rep, to other musicians, to you, could say how our $ benefited THE. SONGWRITER.


Here I guess it would pay to be a member of ASCAP., but what about BMI, and SESAC. do they have a Plus system of payment.



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Sorry.. but I can't allow the ignorance to go unchecked. I couldn't care less if you all HATE the PROs and wish them dead.. BUT.. I will not knowingly allow patently false info and ideas to be posted about them without the truth being told. I don't care if I convince those who make these statements, I only care about our members who want the truth and a reality check.

So.. that said... Papos.. enough is enough.
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"These organizations were not formed to collect money for the little guy they were formed to collect money for the big guys. (Excuse me Little Guys = Songwriters that play their own music.) Because the big guys have money and are connected their lawyers were able to get laws passed that allowed them to exhort money from venues where little guys play."

This is SO ridiculous. The US Government passed the laws that FORCED ALL songwriters of ALL levels to play by these rules. Songwriters were not given a choice in the matter. The laws were formed TO SUPPORT THE VENUES!!!!! Again.. I will say it because the ignorance is making me nauseous... THESE LAWS HELP THE VENUES USE MUSIC TO MAKE MONEY, NOT JUST THE SONGWRITERS.

If you can't understand that, fine. But stop misleading people. It's the government and the continued lobbying by the restaurant and venue people that will never allow any other system even if you could dream one up. This allows venues to use music to make money however they choose for a ridiculously low yearly fee. Plain and simple. In other western countries, these fees are dramatically higher. But the lobbies in the US for the venues are simply too strong and they overwhelm the voice of the songwriters. So we're forced, by Federal Law (and, by the way, International Law as well) to let anyone who chooses use our songs to make money from them. So those folks NEED TO SHARE A LITTLE OF THAT MONEY with the people who created the songs. Please stop being so aggressively ignorant and read some books or do a little homework. Ack!
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"Little guys have been lead down a path to the belief that if they gave the organizations money it would make them professionals and they then could relish in the exhortion."

Sigh... what money are they giving the organizations exactly? They are free to join? Again.. please learn what you're talking about before making demonstrative statements on this website about things you don't understand.
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"These lawyers are are just another Guido."

What in the hell does that mean? Is it an ethnic slur against Italians? What?
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"Because something that is unfair and unjust has been made law we have no recourse and must pay the exhortion or change the law."

I think the word you're looking for is extortion and if there's a law that says that if you VOLUNTARILY want to use the creative work of someone else to make money, you need to pay them for the privilege it's hardly extortion. It's the opposite. It's a voluntary purchase that you are free to make or not make. Charging someone a fee for a product or service or creative by product if you voluntarily choose to use it is not extortion.

For the record, here's the definition of extortion:

---Extortion, outwresting, or exaction is a criminal offense, which occurs, when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion.---

No one forces a business to use music to make money. If they choose to do so, then they need to pay. If they DON'T pay.. guess what, THEY are guilty of the crime of using someone else's property without paying for it.
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"Their are spys everywhere watching and listening to us (with snot running down their nose) waiting to make their next buck."

What? Do all bill collectors have snot running down their noses? If a music venue featuring live music has paid their license fees guess what? No one is going to come to collect the bill. It's only when the music is being STOLEN by means of NOT paying the license bill that people come around. If someone doesn't pay for their car, someone comes around to collect it. If someone doesn't pay their cable bill, someone comes around and disconnects it. In the case of music, if someone isn't paying the licensing fee, eventually there's a chance that someone will come around from one of the PRO's and ask you to pay for using it. Do all of the above have snot coming out of their noses, or just the music bill collectors?
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"My advise is to pay the fees join the PROs and admit that what Brian hails is that you are trapped no matter which way you turn their lawyers have covered the bases and intend to take your dues and the fees and divide it among themselves."

Actually the money collected from the license fees goes into the general fund of the PRO's and is paid out based on the agreed upon model of their writer members. It's irrelevent whether the user of the music likes the model of payout. It doesn't mean you don't owe the money. Songwriters are free to join whichever PRO they want (or none at all) and when the join, they are able to vote on how they want that PRO run. It's frankly neither the concern of or the business of the venues how that money is paid out. It is ONLY the concern of the songwriters that are THEIR members. It's also not the business of songwriters who are not affiliated as it is not their money in the first place. The rates are set by the government and the PRO's are simply collecting for the specific writers who are their members. The government forces songwriters to allow venues to use their music IF (and only IF) they pay the license fees. For a venue to complain about how that money is paid out is like you going to Wal-Mart and taking a basketball and not paying for it and saying your excuse is that you don't like how Wal-Mart pays the manufacturer of that basketball. Everyone reading this can understand that would be wrong. It's up to the basketball manufacturer and Wal-Mart to decide if their fees are fair and it doesn't permit the customer to STEAL the basketball if they don't like the deal that was made.
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"This is not the only time laws have been used to exhort or control the little guys labor its been going on a long time."

Actually, the PRO's are looking out for the little guys (the songwriters) and trying to collect money FOR their labor. Unlicensed venues are the ones stealing from the "little guys."
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"Playing a cover in an unlicensed venue is illegal."

That's the first correct thing you have said.
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"If it should or should not be that way is not the question the ones with the money made it illegal and that is that."

Wrong. The US Government made it illegal. And guess who that is? The entire US public who voted in the people who passed those laws. And who pressured the US Government to keep these laws in place? Why yes.. the MUSIC VENUES AND OTHER PLACES THAT USE LIVE MUSIC!!!! You have your rage so pointed at the wrong people it would be laughable if not so misleading and damaging to those who need the facts.
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"We are still working for the Pharaohs. Now we can say there are three things in life we can count on Taxes, Death, and The PROs.
papos"

So you expect the songwriters to work for free like slaves then I guess eh? Nice. Wouldn't that make the venue using their labor for free the pharoah?
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Sorry to pick on Pappos but even after this long discussion you either still don't understand, or you simply don't care to know or repeat the truth. Feel free to hate the people trying to make sure the creators of songs get paid. I suspect part of that animosity and that of others comes from the fact you haven't reached commercial success and you aren't earning money from your songs because they haven't become popular and people aren't playing them on the radio and in bars and making a living from them. But many others are.

100's of thousands of songwriters receive checks every month for their songs in the US along all thanks to the collection efforts of the 3 PROs. And PRO payments are always the majority of income for songwriters. Not record sales or anything else. And venues need to stop looking at music as something that should be free for them to utilize to make money themselves. And saying that you aren't making money so it's okay to steal is like saying you don't have a job so it's okay to shoplift. If you can't afford to use live music or play the radio or recordings in your venue, then by all means don't use it.

Not all venues can make money from live music. It takes business planning, it takes marketing, it takes investment in stage and sound gear, it takes having the time and expertise to book the right types of acts who will please your customers and cause them to stay longer and spend more money and it takes careful bookkeeping to make sure that the investment in music is paying off. If it isn't, you have to be willing to say you need a change and find another way to entertain your customer base. It's all business 101.

Music is service that you can choose to use or not. But if you ARE going to use it, then pay for it. If you don't like the rates, then either don't use it or work to change the government's laws. But if you want to do that, make sure you understand the ramifications first. You're not going to like the new reality that comes after the blanket license system is gone. Ironically, the blanket license system disproportionately benefits the less famous/success songwriters rather than the MORE famous ones. That's because the Diane Warren's of the world (probably the single most successful commercial songwriter in history) could make a LOT more money if she wasn't stuck in this system.

But if there were no system, all the money would be taken up by a handful of the most famous songwriters and there would be NO money left for everyone else. And only THEIR music would get used because outside of the songwriting and musician community, most people going out for an evening want to hear songs they KNOW.. not songs they don't know by artists they don't know who may or may not even write good songs in the first place. Songs become well loved and popular because they appeal to the masses.. most indie songwriters material, even if well done, doesn't have that broad appeal or it would become popular itself. So your customers, as Herbie VERY accurately stated will not come out in masses to hear that.

And finally to Jessie: You should be very proud that you respect performing musicians enough to pay them. Many venues today don't. If you are having trouble coming up with a few dollars a day in license fees, you might want to consider that booking artists that play more popular songs and/or play them better might bring in more people who spend more money. If, on the other hand, you're already packed to full capacity every night, then you have to look at your business model and figure out if live music really makes any sense at all in the first place. Audiences love the familiar. They want to be entertained. Even when major stars do concert tours, they have to be VERY careful not to play too many of their new songs or they will lose their own audience who are already fans and paid to see them specifically. To think that audience members who don't know the artist want to hear songs they've never heard is to be a little delusional. It's simply not going to work over the long run and you'll never approach the success you could by booking artists with large local followings who already KNOW their songs or having unknown artists throw in some covers so the audience gets a breather between all those unknown heartfelt originals.

And performers right now don't have a law for blanket licensing of their work. And guess what? The private sector doesn't make up for that lack of law and income. Restaurants who play recorded music pay the musicians of those songs nothing. And if they had a choice, they wouldn't pay the songwriters either. One day that law might also exist. And when it does, perhaps more people who are great live and studio performers and can also share in some earnings for their efforts from radio play and venue performances. And that will ALSO be a good thing.

Brian


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Scotty,

To answer your question, BMI does not have a program like ASCAP Plus. I recently asked their VP why they still don't and they said that they feel like they do the right job seeing that the money is disbursed in the most efficient way (meaning they take the least overhead as a non profit) that they don't need to make it up to those who feel they missed them. He also said that they use those funds instead on education and also supporting grassroots causes (like JPF who they sponsored in 2008 with a grant). By supporting entities like JPF, many of those writers will get a lot of benefit in larger numbers for the same money. Since he feels that the ASCAP Plus program sort of "guesses" how much to pay out and doesn't actually verify the info submitted, he doesn't feel like it's fair to guess on a pay out when they have reliable systems to pay out using that data. That's a consistent position with BMI by the way. If two writers co-write a song and one belongs to ASCAP and the other to BMI, ASCAP will match BMI's payout to their own writer if they (BMI) paid more money out to their writer. BMI does not reciprocate. So I asked him why not? And he said (and I actually have to agree with him) that he if they are doing their job correctly, then the amount they are paying out is correct both when they are higher AND lower than ASCAP. So why would they pay out someone elses money to someone to match a wrong number? If you think about it, that is a pretty compelling offer. After all, they wouldn't take money away if they paid MORE to a member, so why pay more if they paid LESS if they feel they are right in the first place. They are open about this policy and it's a legitimate stance I think. And people are free to choose between one or the other based on these philosophical differences. That's why it is good to have more than 1 PRO like most other countries have.

SESAC is a different animal and no they don't have an ASCAP Plus type program. But speak to most SESAC members and they are quite happy where they are. Jody Whitesides is one such person, so feel free to ask him why he switched to SESAC.

And thank you for asking a question to learn the correct answer. I wish more folks would do that.

Full disclosure: BMI sponsored JPF in 2008. In 2003 and 2004 ASCAP Sponsored JPF. So far this year, none of them are, but we still support them all and feel like they are all important partners for the songwriting community.

Brian


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

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Full disclosure: BMI sponsored JPF in 2008. In 2003 and 2004 ASCAP Sponsored JPF.
Brian


There's nothing like full disclosure, is there? Let the 'little guys" decide for themselves...

Mike Worrall

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Well Mike, as someone who has never made a dime off supporting the "little guys" for the last 11 years and has spent every possible moment working to support them both globally and face to face (I've met over 26K JPF members face to face in the last 11 years in their own home town) I think I certainly have the right to make sure the facts are out there for musicians and songwriters to use to help themselves, rather than random and ignorant lies and rants by people who can't be bothered to learn the truth and are happy to misinform their peers and friends all for the sake of a little bitch session.

Frankly, I am shocked and disappointed that so many of you prefer to feed off misguided hate and ignorance rather than the truth. Why not use a little of that rage to do some actual good in the world?

So.. I put my actions, my time and my full time, year round, 16 hours a day volunteer effort into trying to help folks. I wonder how many hours a week the misguided complainers are donating to their chosen communities and for the good of other writers and artists? How much of your life do YOU spend helping the "little guys" Mike? For that matter, how much time are many of the folks making these comments spending on educating THEMSELVES about their OWN careers and pursuits? All the information is readily available from a multitude of resources, many of which are free and easy to find.

So spare me the lecture on my own website Mike unless you at least have something of value to offer other than sniping. Being an "iconoclast" may be fun for you, but it's not good when it helps mislead and misguide people looking for the truth. It reminds me when kids all group together and decide that they won't learn at school because it's not cool. So they grow up to be cool people working for peanuts in some unskilled job the rest of their lives. Musicians who can't be bothered to learn how their business works but still think of themselves as professionals who should get paid often end up with the same fate.

Brian


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Brian what you have done with JPF is something you should be proud of. You like all of us must spend endless hours to support ourselves. Because you work more hours than me does not make you more of a humanitarian. I do not think anyone here questions your knowledge of the law or it's history. Your problem is that you are using inappropriate ways to communicate your knowledge with the public.

One thing I have learned in life is that many people make judgements about people by the way they express themselves. Have you thought about how people read you and the judgements they make about you because of the way you express yourself?

Some skill in interpersonal communications could go a long way to express yourself in a way that people would have more respect for you. Your authority can only command a certain degree of respect the rest has to come from somewhere else.

My suggestion to you is to read some books that have to do with communication and leadership it may benefit you more than you can imagine. As for myself I will not carry on this foolish conversation with you. I find you too disrespectful, a trait held by some bright and intelligent people who have little understanding of themselves and others. Please take it personally if I do not respond to your insults in the future.
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Sorry.. but I can't allow the ignorance to go unchecked. I couldn't care less if you all HATE the PROs and wish them dead.. BUT.. I will not knowingly allow patently false info and ideas to be posted about them without the truth being told. I don't care if I convince those who make these statements, I only care about our members who want the truth and a reality check.
Brian
I'm sorry if Jak opened up a can of squiggly worms, I don't think Papos was being ignorant, he was just stating his subjective opinion about the situation on hand.

Well, I see where the PRO's can be an advantage to major publishers and songwriters who are getting major airplay or who are doing sound tracks for movies, but what advantage are mechanical royalties to someone who is not getting major airplay and has no desire what so ever to tackle the system in place you have so very well mastered. Just songwriters in a region who want to sell and play their own material raise their standard of living and put supporting musicians to work to play for a wider audience in a region by getting equal exposure and fair pay for fair play. So there are some catch 22 situations like Jak mentioned. And he's happy to be a part of one. Maybe I will be too one day. I haven't joined a PRO as I have not found it necessary. Shouldn't someone who owns the copyrights to their material be able to negotiate a price for the use of their song without registering? And then there is still a question of why artists who have registered their song with a PRO are not receiving mechanical royalties on Myspace? Is their a blanket they are operating under which excludes them from having to pay, they are earning advertising dollars? I see a lot of defense by you Brian on the side of the PRO's, but I was hoping you might have a comment on some of the validity of situations I've proposed? and I also know it's not just the PRO's who created the inequities, but just my subjective judgement so you don't call me ignorant, I personally think they help feed it on a local level. Obviously some people have seen some sense in what I'm saying. An active member on the forum here, and I wont mention any names, said a couple came out to a performance by his group after hearing their song on community radio WMNF 88.5 fm just so they could hear it live and purchase the CD. Imagine the financial impact it would have on his life if just 500,000 people of the 2.7 million in the Tampa Bay Region heard it? Can you imagine it. So you don't have to read back, Have you taken the time to listen to www.musictampabay.com for a week or so at your leisure? If not maybe you should before answering these questions. Find the one singing to your heart, or the one that makes you laugh, or the one that makes you happy just to be alive and comment it on here. I know not all the recordings I have streaming there are professionally done, but would you agree it is a impressive set of material? If artists knew they could get fair airplay for fair pay don't you think they would be more inclined to take their material to local recording studios to have them professionally mastered if they haven't already? Could a PRO be created to include only a regions artists? I know these are all just hypothetical questions and I appreciate your knowledge so let me breakdown the questions and maybe without sounding punishing you could LISTEN instead of REACT and answer before the thread gets locked because like Sam Cooke said good or bad "A Change Gonna Come".

1. Can an individual negotiate a price for their copyrighted song without having it registered with a PRO?

2. Why are songwriters not seeing a royalty check for their music on myspace who has paid advertisers? (I'll go back and read their agreement just in case I missed something)

3. Would you agree or disagree and I'm not talking about all songwriters who are recording artists, because not all have commercially viable material; If the local airwaves the people of the USA gave the FCC the right to control, mandated Commercial Radio to broadcast local artists by adding them to their playlist would it bring them a greater consumer base and larger audience in the broadcast region?

4. If songwriter/recording artists knew they could get fair airplay for fair pay, do you think they would be more inclined to take their material to local recording studios to have them professionally recorded and or mastered?

5. If your answer to 3 & 4 is yes, would it have a positive or negative impact on a local economy?

6. Do you think it would be a good idea for members of a PRO to petition their elected leaders to spend these establishment licensing dollars on lobbying the FCC for exactly what I am proposing?

7. Can you hear a song in your heart by what I am saying HEAR Brian, can you see communities coming together to support these artists on a wider scale, wouldn't it be nice to walk into a local hardware, or be on a job site and HEAR someone singing your song Brian? Can't you see, Cant you see, we're all JUST PLAIN FOLKS.

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/24/09 07:25 AM.


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Papos,

I find it rather humorous to get etiquette lessons from someone who used an ethnic slur in his factually incorrect and ignorant rant above. How do you post that with a straight face?

I don't owe you anything Papos. When you post falsehoods like you have above on my website, you've shown disrespect for not only me and the work I do, but also the entire community and even your friends who might actually believe what you said was true. You're not helping people by spreading false information or being angry at people who don't deserve it. I am not even sure you understand what you think you're raging against. But that didn't stop you did it? I guess you didn't take that communication and leadership class did you?

I communicated exactly what I wanted to and it appears you got the message. I have zero tolerance for your actions on this post. It's not acceptable and it's not welcome on this website. Others at least engaged in the conversation and bothered to learn the truth and ask questions about what they didn't know. You ranted on like you actually knew what you were talking about. And did I mention the ethnic slur you tossed in? I wanted to make sure you didn't forget, because I certainly didn't. Ethnic slurs, racial slurs, religious slurs all tend to cause me to lose my sense of diplomacy for the one making the comment.

You may be well loved among your fellow Tampa musicians. And they may dislike me for being so blunt and intolerant of your comments. I'd rather risk being disliked by some while giving them correct info to go forward with than loved by them while leading them astray with false information. Since you weren't willing to hear the truth in the previous discussion, it seems at least this time you paid attention. Answering your tone with the same tone back seems to work with you eh?

Sorry I ruffled your feathers, but I am not sorry I dispelled your misinformation. I'll make you a deal: Don't post false info again and you won't get a blunt response from me. If that's not acceptable to you, then please don't post at all.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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"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..." -Brian Austin Whitney

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Brian "There's not really a question in the Scotty. Can WHAT be negotiated? If you aren't already a member of a PRO, then there's nothing to negotiate. If someone has YOU play and you never play anything other than YOUR music and you are not registered with a PRO, then there's no issue. My point was that a venue who books various artists throughout a year can almost never make sure that they never play a song that is registered with a PRO. One slip up and they are on the hook for all fees at the max rate and they have no recourse but to pay if challenged."

Just my subjective opinion as being only a casual observer, but your response here was all you needed in the beginning without all the fluff although you contradicted yourself with the first statement because there is something to be negotiated. It is called a song in someones heart who wants to share it with the world. I,m no psychic, but I believe you knew this was the answer I was looking for all along and the rest would make me disappear like a fart in a face in the wind.

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/25/09 12:42 AM.


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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
mmmmm......well music has to increase his business enough for him to want to pay the fees and the musicians. Some clubs are known for music and people go there to hear it. At others, music is wallpaper and the customers would go there with or without it. So I guess you have to find the ones where music is a part of the culture.


Music is a big part of the culture, people right here in the Tampa Bay area are buying music at Wal Mart they hear on the FCC controlled airwaves being played by Clear Channel and I'd be curious what the dollar figure is. I believe the local scene could grow if it wasn't for the way these entities have become monopolized into our failing economy.

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/25/09 12:48 AM.


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In response to Scotty's questions/comments:
------------------------
"Well, I see where the PRO's can be an advantage to major publishers and songwriters who are getting major airplay or who are doing sound tracks for movies, but what advantage are mechanical royalties to someone who is not getting major airplay and has no desire what so ever to tackle the system in place you have so very well mastered."

I think you meant to say something other than Mechanical Royalties here. Just to clarify, Mechanical Royalties are paid to songwriters for each copy of their song that is made. Usually this means on a CD or other tangible medium, though there is currently discussion on how best to handle digital copies and their payment. It doesn't, however, have anything to do with Venues and license fees for the use of Live or recorded music performances of a song which I think you do mean. I wanted to be clear on this because many words and concepts have been tossed around here (and are commonly tossed around) that can confuse or mislead people understandably.
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"Just songwriters in a region who want to sell and play their own material and put supporting musicians to work to play for a wider audience in a region getting equal exposure."

So your real question I believe (and correct me if I have it wrong) is if you're not getting any radio airplay and you're not having your songs played by other artists at live venues, what's in it for you to have venues pay the license fees that you may never get right? Good question. The answer is that the venue would be following the law that states that songwriters works can be used legally by a venue in their business IF they pay the blanket license fees to the PRO's that represent the works in question. This would be any song written or co-written that is registered with one of the PRO's which are permitted also by law to be the collection agent for the writers in question. The license permits an "all you can eat" type of usage, meaning you can use as much or as little as you like, for one set license fee. If you choose to play Achy Breaky Heart continuously day and night year round, that is fine as long as you pay the fee. If you choose to only play Achy Breaky heart 1 time and no other music all year, the fee is the same. This is done out of expedience. The rates are low and encompassing because it would be too cumbersome on the venue and PRO to track all the songs one at a time. Plus there would be no incentive for a venue to report honestly if they had to pay per usage. So it's a blanket fee. Radio stations have a similar fee structure. Pay one fee to each PRO.. play anything you want all year. It doesn't matter if it's mostly ASCAP or BMI or SESAC, they're all covered with a license that allows as much or as little usages of their catalog as you like. So.. how does it help YOU? It means that they can have live music legally and they won't get shut down because they didn't pay for the license and were put out of business by lawsuits. It also means that they can book ANY artist and if they've paid their license fees, they can play any music including famous hits or unknown originals and the fees are always covered. By being able to always make the best choices in music for their customers, they will be more likely to stay in business and they will be more likely to have more money to book more acts because the better the music, the more money they can make if they manage it well. That's good for you and performers no matter whose songs you are playing. It also means that the music community as a whole can survive. There's a trickle down effect which says if the people at the top are making more money, they don't have to come down and cherry pick the opportunities from the people in the middle. And if the people in the middle are making their money, they don't have to come down and cherry pick the opportunities from the people at the entry/indie/grassroots/part time/casual player/hobbyist level. That means you'll have more opportunities.
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"I haven't joined a PRO as I have not found it necessary."

You sound like more than a hobbyist. I don't think there's much reason for a hobbyist to join a PRO. And if you have no CD's recorded for sale then there's really no need to join a PRO because without recorded music, there's no chance of radio play and thus not much chance for airplay royalties. Exceptions would be if you got placements on TV etc. but that's a little off topic for this discussion. But if you DO have CD's for sale, and if you DO get even local radio airplay, and if you DO get internet radio airplay and if you DO play live several times per week, ASCAP's ASCAP PLUS program might be worth joining for. If you keep track of all your gigs, the songs you played at them, the radio and internet play you got with documentation and submit it, you may get anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars a year. I know dozens of artists that do this every year and it's a great little supplement. If you don't want to go through that tracking etc... then no, there's no real reason to join a PRO for you.
--------------------------------------
"Shouldn't someone who owns the copyrights to their material be able to negotiate a price for the use of their song without registering?"

The government has taken that right away from you. In other words, you can't go to a radio station and say "pay me this amount of money and you can play my song.." nor can you go to another artist and say "pay me this much money and you can play my song" nor can you go to a venue and say "pay me this much money and you can play my CD." All those rights are gone. Your only option to earn money for those things is to join a PRO. Remember, the laws came first. Then the PRO's were created to act as the official legal collection system for this license system the government created to use music. So you really have no option to negotiate your own rates. If famous writers with hits songs COULD do that, they'd make a lot more money. That's why it's so laughable when someone suggests that this is all about those evil rich songwriters getting all the money while everyone else starves. It's really the opposite. They'd do better without the laws and the rest of us would be far more out of luck. The laws help venues the most. Next they help up and coming songwriters with songs getting SOME airplay (not massive, not even major stations necessarily, just some local and regional play now and then) because the blanket fee means they get a piece of these large licensing pools. If they had to negotiate on their own, they'd get nothing. The laws really don't help or hurt folks getting no airplay because they wouldn't get paid either way. The big hit writers get the least out of it because they can't negotiate for their highly in demand songs. They're stuck with the statutory blanket license fees and their percentage of that pie.
------------------------------------
"And then there is still a question of why artists who have registered their song with a PRO are not receiving mechanical royalties on Myspace?"

That's a valid question but it's one that has nothing to do with the PRO's. That is an issue for Harry Fox, a completely different entity. And it's not resolved completely, so it's possible that one day you will.
--------------------------
"Is their a blanket they are operating under which excludes them from having to pay, they are earning advertising dollars? "

Actually you're misinformed on this one. They do pay blanket license fees not only for songwriter royalties to the PRO's, but also a NEW royalty to Sound Exchange which collects a royalty for the people who PERFORM the songs on the recording. Not just the stars but also the sidemen as well. This is something we're currently fighting to get added to terrestrial radio and in fact I will be meeting with politicians in DC to talk about that very issue. So they do pay those blanket license fees for radio type plays (i.e. if they are broadcasting songs). However.. and this is a big thing.. I believe in the user license in some cases people have waived their royalties to many of the digital sites out there in exchange for the free hosting. I don't know what the MySpace user agreement currently is, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that you waived those rights. But I really don't know and if you signed up for that service, it really is important to know what you're agreeing to before doing it. For more on that you'd need to talk to an attorney with a copy of the agreement to be sure.
-----------------------------
"I see a lot of defense by Brian on the side of the PRO's, but I was hoping he might have comment on some of the validity of situations I've proposed? and I also know it's not just the PRO's who created the inequities, but just my subjective judgement so you don't call me ignorant, I personally think they help feed it on a local level"

Hopefully I answered your questions. Something else to consider.. the amount of money collected from all venues is a very tiny percentage of the larger pool of money collected by a PRO. What may seem like a lot of money to a coffee shop is really a drop in the ocean of the many billion dollar pool of money collected and distributed by each PRO. And that money is going to real live songwriters, some who are barely even part time, all around the US. Lest you think it's just hit writers getting rich, the truth is that even number one country song can net the writer less than 100K in earnings across the board. I know people with multiple #1 hits that still have to work a day job or give music lessons to make their house payment. That money is widely spread out. But to those writers who make a few thousand dollars a year it's enough to give them time to write and record and make music. And that's what the goal should really be.. having fun making music. The professional music industry is a tough business. Less than 1000 artists in the entire world are on a major record label. There are well over 500K active performing artists who make all or part of their living, so the odds of being one of those 1000 worldwide are slim. Things like PRO's make it possible for many of them to get by and keep making music as a living or as part of their living. Not everyone can make professional money, but we should try to make sure that as many writers are getting compensated as possible under the terms the government has stuck us all with. It's only fair. All other types of work where the public benefits from the results are compensated.. but people these days with illegal file sharing and opposition to royalties make it really tough and unfair.
---------------------------------------
"Have you taken the time to listen to http://www.musictampabay.com for a week or so at your leisure?"

I listen to JPF member music roughly 12 hours per day every day during the music awards process which lasts over a year. I started this process last January and I've already got 12 months in it and it won't be done until this summer. I suggest to you and everyone to get involved and do some serious screening as a peer in the awards process. There were 42,000 albums and 560,000 songs entered this year from over 160 countries and in over 100 genres. If you want to understand where the talent bar really is set just among the indie/grassroots community (not to mention the major label and indie label system) then you need to listen to the best of what is in there. It may surprise you a great deal. Though I haven't listened recently to that station, I have listened to things like Al's radio show that featured mostly Tampa area artists, and with a few exceptions, it was not on par with the best stuff we find in the awards. That's not to say it's terrible, because it's not. But the bar is VERY VERY VERY high even among people who will never be able to make a full time living at music. And to really understand what you're up against, you need to listen to a LOT of music outside your local bubble to get an idea. It took me until well past the time when I had a record deal offered to even understand how good the competition out there really was. JPF and touring the USA, Canada and now Europe has taught me what's really out there. Screening songs from over 100,000 albums sent to us by fellow JPF members over the years (and that's not an exaggeration) has really educated me as to how good you really need to be to be competitive commercially or artistically. It's quite eye opening.
------------------------
"I know not all the recordings including the one song I have streaming there are professionally done, but would you agree it is a impressive set of material? If artists knew they could get fair airplay for fair pay don't you think they would be more inclined to take their material to local recording studios to have them professionally mastered?"

Over 95% of the 42,000 albums we got this year were professionally recorded and mastered. Think about that. That is who you are really competing with. Albums have to be radio ready to even get the time of day now. That's why it's so important to listen to what your peers, not just locally, but across the US and the world for that matter, are really doing. Ask some of the members here who have done a lot of screening.. they'll tell you how high the bar is.. and keep in mind, you need to be BETTER than ALL those folks to have any shot at major success because with a few exception (we have small number of label or really famous members who enter) those folks are not making any money either and are fighting their way up the food chain. If you aren't already BETTER than them, then first you have to catch and pass them by before going after the bigger opportunities. It's just a problem of high quality supply and very little real demand. Add to that file sharing and the devaluing of music in our world culture because of it and it's a tough world. That makes the meager royalties from airplay and venue play that much more critical.
-----------------------------
"Could a PRO be created to include only a regions artists?"

Actually the surveys done by PRO's are regional and even by local station. So in a way they ARE both regional and worldwide. If there were a regional PRO, the payouts would be exactly the same. Less money collected upfront paid to less artists would equal the same in the end.
----------------------------
I think I answered all your questions above as I went.
---------------------
"1. Can an individual negotiate a price for their copyrighted song without having it registered with a PRO?"

Answered above.
--------------------
"2. Why are songwriters not seeing a royalty check for their music on myspace who has paid advertisers? (I'll go back and read their agreement just in case I missed something)"

answered above as much as I can answer it.
-----------------------------
"3. Would you agree or disagree and I'm not talking about all songwriters who are recording artists, because not all have commercially viable material; If the local airwaves the people of the USA gave the FCC the right to control, mandated Commercial Radio to broadcast local artists by adding them to their playlist it would bring them a greater consumer base and audience in the broadcast region?"

Actually JPF is at the forefront (and actually this is my topic for the panel I am on in Washington DC next month) of pushing for more localism in radio. I agree that we've lost that with big corporate radio owners broadcasting 1 playlist from an office in Texas to the whole country. We're working on it. That's what we do.
-----------------
"4. If songwriter/recording artists knew they could get fair airplay for fair pay, do you think they would be more inclined to take their material to local recording studios to have them professionally recorded and or mastered?"

The DO get fair pay for what airplay they get. But there's simply too many great recorded songs to ever get airplay. The supply outweighs demand or capacity exponentially. Add to that record labels that pay off radio stations and it makes it worse. JPF has been on the fight against Radio Payola and we helped break the labels which resulted in them confessing and negotiating a settlement (which we were consulted on) to make amends. But it still happens in only slightly different ways. But that issue has nothing to do with PRO's. By the way, PRO's and the record labels don't get along. They don't have the same interests at all. So problems with labels or the radio stations for that matter doesn't cross over into a problem with the PROs. I will say this again. The PRO's are the good guys. The radio stations and record labels and even the government most of the time? Not so much.
-------------------------------
"5. If your answer to 3 & 4 is yes, would it have a positive or negative impact on a local economy?"

I think if done right, it can create a unique local culture and help the economy and tourism and community identity. I am making that very point in person to congressmen and senators and their staffs in DC on February 11th.
------------------
"6. Do you think it would be a good idea for members of a PRO to petition their elected leaders to spend these establishment licensing dollars on lobbying the FCC for exactly what I am proposing?"

The PRO's wouldn't lobby for that purpose. The artist community, however, already is. Localism isn't a PRO issue either way. Their job is to monitor ALL airplay regardless of who it is and collect that money and pay it to right people. They don't and can't play favorites in that way. It would be a conflict of interest and likely illegal to do so in my opinion.
-------------
Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee

always nice to have good questions.

Brian


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Originally Posted by Papos
There is no reason to be satisfied with the existing status quo. The problem that I see is that the existing status quo is restricting efforts that could be made at a local level. I believe that the only way to go about correcting the system is on a local level similar to the direction Scotty is pointing. A national effort to change the way the system works puts the little guy against the Giants. Which would only result in little or no help for the little guy. The help for the little guy has to come from the local to state level. Tampa and Florida is an excellent ground for this. I think everyone wants the same result, we have different views in how to achieve the result. I for one like Scotty's local approach. One thing we can all agree on is JPF is a tool that can help the local effort work and it provides a platform for national change. If not for JPF this discussion would be in the back of a bar on Dale Mabry Hwy.
papos


We're looking for leadership here Brian. If the PRO's existing today are not helping the little guys move in the direction here, I see no reason to limit myself exclusively by registering my material with them. I hope at least with your connections and the names of people in these organizations you know, you could get them to come on HEAR and comment. It is the most expressed chapter on the JPF forums. We're looking for some real leadership as we enter into harder economic times. You are the Main Man on the forum here, you've had them donate to support the site, Taxi by God is a community partner, you don't pay into them do you? Acceptance is not the answer to the problems existing today. Change is the touchstone of progress.



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Brian, Thank you for taking the time to respond so diligently. It is nice to know you will be speaking on a lot of the topics we have hit on here. The digital world has made it better for artists to get their music out there, but mostly it is being exploited IMO by most of the sites out there. I've seen the request for help with the awards screening. I dont know how many commercially viable CD's we have available in the Tampa Bay Area, but I know we have a lot. We also have a great opportunity here if we we're to change the way the system works. My concern is not with 100,000 albums from all over the country and beyond. Just the ones here on the Central West Coast of Florida. I can also understand how the songwriters stuck in the old way of doing things can even have a great song hit the charts and struggle. We are letting the controllers of the old hits stay in the game too long IMO. If other regions followed a formula similar to what we have been debating here they to could have a thriving local scene. Record companies are losing their control of the market and as long as oldie moldies, american idolies, and nashville country kill, keep getting all the exposure it will never change in a regional scene. Here lies the other problem. The catalog of music some corporations own is astronomical and it is our job to let the lawmakers know it is not good for business. It's still hard for me to believe and feel I would be naive to not think the PRO's who are in control of all the distribution of these royalties do not wreck some kind of havoc on the situation. The model we have been talking about here could set a precedent for songwriting and music professionals in other regions to follow. It would be easier for their neighbor to find them without limiting them to look elsewhere, but it should start first on a local level, be encouraged, and it can be done. Let the days of the old record companies continue to fall to the way side and give up the control they have set themselves up so well for and are hanging on to with total disregard for the art, the humanities, and the livelihood of many. Monies should trickle down from the source not the few. I will be accumulating the information here and try to edit it into an editorial to be submited to the St Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune, and Obama's site for change ideas, with a plea of anyone reading it to call their local radio stations asking them why they are not playing these artists. If there is a breakdown of artists/songwriters who have submitted material from the Central Gulf Coast of Florida I would be willing to help screening. It would benefit us in getting a closer look at what we have here to push into the public's eyes with a follow up editorial to keep the issue in the faces of our local and state elected officials as they will have a closer tie to the meeting taking place in February and decisions being made to the fate of the music industry afterwards. If anyone has any suggestions on what to put into the editorial please respond. Or if you think I'm crazy please tell me so. Should we continue the movement or are we beating a dead horse.

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/24/09 09:56 AM.


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7. One more question anybody, In case I missed it, Can PUBLIC DOMAIN songs be played in a non licensed by the PRO's establishment? Just for clarity.

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Public domain songs are just that.. free to the entire public to do anything you want with.. record, change, adjust, perform, or creatively deconstruct however you want.

As for you suggesting that people come here to address your questions, thats what I do. There would be no point in them coming here and telling you the same thing I do. It's clear to me that some in the Tampa group feel they are in a bubble, and want to live in your own world where the real rules and laws of the rest of us don't apply. The resistence to simple facts and the nearly complete unwillingness on your behalves (many of you in fact) to simply educate yourself from the multitude of available information and truth out there is shocking. A while back in this very conversation, you said you were going to go right out and get the book and read it for yourself. Have you? If you have, then YOU can easily fill people in on the facts. But a continued unwillingness or curiousity for the truth rather than gossip and "ignorance is bliss as long as we can blame someone else" types of attitudes that have been displayed by Papos and others is staggering. No one owes anyone their time to deal ignorance born not out of lack of information being available, but unwillingness or disinterest in learning that info.

There are plenty of people who feel their music career, whatever the level from part time player who does it for fun, to full time working musician and songwriter, is important enough to them to spend the time to seek information and truth on their own. We've discussed ALL these issues dozens of times on this very message board. If a few of you bothered to scroll back up to the top now and then and READ what is going on, you'd already have learned and probably participated in discussions all these very topics. But some appear to be more than happy to simply complain about the wrong people and think that the problem will either solve itself or magically everyone will change to do it your way, even if "your" (and I say that in the general sense) is completely unrealistic and misinformed.

I've been spending the last 11 years educating members and making information available. Our newsletter has had over 175 issues that address these types of topics. We have 3/4s of a million posts on this very message board that have answered nearly ALL these questions multiple times. Frankly, if you want "leadership" you should appoint someone in your chapter to learn the info and share the truth. I've already done that for 11 years and it's clear for whatever reason you guys have no interest in paying attention to that, especially those that have been here for many years.

If you want to learn it only from someone local, then I'd suggest going to your coordinators who should have had ample time to get this info. If they aren't doing it, then you need to find someone to step up to do it. But better than all that is to just do it for yourself. I do all this for free. But i am simply 1 person. So are YOU. If you can't educate yourself, how can I educate all of you by myself? If you aren't willing to do THAT for yourself.. then frankly, in the end, you only have yourself to blame for whatever happens to you. The info has NEVER been more easy to get in history. And I can't recall a single time someone reached out with reasonable politeness and didn't get a quick answer back from me, no matter how many other things I was already doing.

The most active chapter in JPF by a large margin is Orange County. They spend a lot of time booking industry speakers to come in and EDUCATE their members. The have meetings and showcases and work with other organizations in their area to share events and opportunities. They communicate a lot, just not via these message boards. There's a very big world out there beyond these message board. Only about 2% of our entire membership is active on these boards. Not everyone cares to use a message board. That's fine. It's here for people who DO want it, just like Roadtrip Showcases or the newsletter or the music awards or our Music Conference Panels or any of the other things we do are there for those who desire.

Some of these very topics I've discussed before with Al and maybe even Jerry was also in one some of these discussions back when we were talking about the new royalties that were going into effect on Internet Radio. The PRO's were front and center in those discussions and I remember when the TRUTH was put forward, some didn't like the answers and didn't want to listen. As demonstrated here, it appears that history is repeating itself.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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Originally Posted by Mike Worrall
Jessie,

I feel compelled to admit that one Friday night at The Bunker I sang Dion's "Runaround Sue" when you weren't there. I guess I need to send BMI a check.

I'm truly ashamed of myself...

Mike

http://www.myspace.com/threeoldguys
http://www.myspace.com/mikeworrall



I think you owe them .091 cents.



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Originally Posted by Mincer
Don't know how I feel about this. Most clubs that won't pay a yearly fee to PA societies won't be able to pay musicians either. I think it is the cost of doing business. Otherwise, shut the CD player/radio/TV off, and see how many people stick around.


You have to get the public to pay for it. Equal Airplay for Equal Pay!



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Originally Posted by Johnny-Boy
I checked out your homepage Kristy. You have an ample supply of songwriter/musicians that perform at your venue. Very impressive.

Best, John



You bet it's impressive! It's impressive in other regions as well!

Equal airplay for Equal Pay!



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[quote=Treble Hook If there is a breakdown of artists/songwriters who have submitted material from the Central Gulf Coast of Florida I would be willing to help screening. It would benefit us in getting a closer look at what we have here to push into the public's eyes with a follow up editorial to keep the issue in the faces of our local and state elected officials as they will have a closer tie to the meeting taking place in February and decisions being made to the fate of the music industry afterwards. If anyone has any suggestions on what to put into the editorial please respond. Or if you think I'm crazy please tell me so. Should we continue the movement or are we beating a dead horse!

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee
[/quote]

Brian does this enter the equation? or are the screenings completed for our region?



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Originally Posted by Jak Kelly

Club owner: Sorry but I do not have the Money at the moment to Pay Ascap and BMI Fees.
So NO GIG!!
Ok Musicians what should we do?
/
Now My name is Jak Kelly.
I Compose Songs and am a member of A.S.C.A.P.
I certainly would want to get paid if someone performs my songs. So I am in a bit of a quandry. It is getting harder and harder to get gigs because of Clubs not wanting to pay ASCAP, BMI and Sesac.
So how can I make $$ in this Business?


I am putting a 3hr show together and need 3 songwriters with unlicensed (not registered through the PRO's) songs for the first set.

I will be playing my copyright protected material and not registered with the PRO's songs for the 2nd set

I asked Jak if he couldn't do a set of PUBLIC DOMAIN songs, he said he only plays his own original licensed and registered songs so he can't do it. If you know anyone who would like to do the 3rd set of PUBLIC DOMAIN songs only let me know.

http://www.ibiblio.org/jimmy/folkden-wp

There will be a cover charge of $11.11 and tickets will be printed and sold. gross take will be split 3 ways minus $100 to pay for graphics, posters and tickets. 1st set will be split 3 ways. Any of the Artists/songwriters who use supporting back up players will negotiate with them directly. 70 tickets will be printed.
If it sells out. The gross take will be 777.77 if it sells out.

The title of the show will be Equal Airplay for Equal Pay!

Any songwriters who would like to participate Please correspond via: idigflorida@gmail.com

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/25/09 12:02 PM.


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Originally Posted by Jerry Jakala

Brian Austin Whitney is right on the way that the current PRO's work.
If we are not happy with the current system then we have to try to change it.
A thousand screamers will be heard over the mouse in the corner.



Don't let the current rulers scare you into a corner!

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Originally Posted by Mincer
Commercial radio stations are owned by just a few companies and generally feature easily catagorized music filtered through big bucks- sadly this is why great fingerstyle guitarists & great local songwriters (not to mention the weirdo stuff I do) are never heard on commercial radio-


Many Artist in Tampa Bay play a niche genre of music like you create, but there are many who have commercial quality material. If you team them in a show with a couple of artists in your category it makes for a very entertaining show!



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Like some of us that come to the boards to post and interact I sometimes keep up on topics like this one and choose not to get involved because it may look like I'm taking sides or that the conversation is doing just fine without adding another frictional dimention to it. But I would like to say something now. This post started out by Jak making a statement and asking a question about a situation with a club owner. Valid and propper in my opinion. The question has been asked and answered and some as usual don't like the answer. But, there is only one truth and in this case it is that the PROs are there to protect the commercialy accomplished songwriter as they would be available to protect our (your's and mine)interests should we become "commercialy sucessful. To make snide comments or banter for the sake of bantering is unproductive but unsurprising acknowledging those who are being contrary. Please don't get me wrong as many of you involved here have been respectful and informed I also find a sense of trivial banter.
One thing I've learned over the last five years of being on this board is that Brian interacts into discussions where he can lend his expertise which is in the field of the business of music. He hasn't built the largest musicians association in the world by not knowing whats he's talking about. I would suggest that new and old members alike take a minute and look around the different pages on this web site and really get to know the organisation that JPF is. The reach, the availability of resourses, the largest music awards in the world for independent artists. I've been there, not once but twice and I can tell you this guy walks the walk he talks so please if you ask a question be respectfull of the answer.
Now with that said, I do take issue with this one statement made by Brian.

"It's clear to me that some in the Tampa group feel they are in a bubble, and want to live in your own world where the real rules and laws of the rest of us don't apply. The resistence to simple facts and the nearly complete unwillingness on your behalves (many of you in fact) to simply educate yourself from the multitude of available information and truth out there is shocking."

The truth is the amount of members who have chosen to chime into this conversation many with valid and interesting input in reality are a very small portion of the total Tampa Bay JPF community. The Tampa Bay Chapter which has been around for five years now has had hundreds of individual indies hit our stage and visit this board over those five years, but I guess eight or ten or twelve even, does constitute "some". I just don't think that was a fair statement. I'm sure that in many cities and townships around the U.S. and the world "some" other JPFers and non JPFers share many of these same misconceptions.

I think productive dialog is good but bantering for the sake of bantering is leading to a negative discussion here. Let's be aware that what we say here can be read by the world and that we should'nt say anything in writing that we wouldnt say to someones face.
Al Alvarez-Caring About "OUR" Chapter...because...
"We're All In This Together"


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Originally Posted by Al Alvarez

I think productive dialog is good but bantering for the sake of bantering is leading to a negative discussion here. Let's be aware that what we say here can be read by the world and that we should'nt say anything in writing that we wouldnt say to someones face.
Al Alvarez-Caring About "OUR" Chapter...because...
"We're All In This Together"



I would like to thank you Al. I would also like to say in one respect through the course of the thread here I have gained a better understanding of how the PRO's work and am not against them collecting money for anyone who is a member or wants to join. The real point is and Brian did a great job of agreeing is; why are artists from here who's music hits the mark, not played on the broadcast waves in the Tampa Bay area. A perfect example is your gig Friday Night at Jolli Mon's. It had satisfactory attendance. Not stellar, but it was a well received performance and you will be returning. Was the Pay equal to the performance? maybe in your eyes it was, but IMO no. I was there when you were loading up and setting up and seen how much effort was put into it. If Jim's song "All American High" was played in the rotation of the commercial radio stations in our region your attendance would of been double or tripled. The song is commercially playable, and professionally recorded and mastered. It deserves to be heard here. It would be nice to have it become a national or international hit, but someone else in another region has one just as good. It's like playing the Lottery, the lottery is a tax on people who do not know how to do math. Henceforth, your attendance would of doubled at your performance, you could of earned at least twice the amount you were paid, and sold twice as many CD's. No one would turn down the radio if the song was played. The radio and the station would not go out of business. In fact I think it would help their ratings. Local advertisers would see it as a means to get their product into the eyes of people in attendance at your shows, and a larger group of people would be earning Equal Pay for Equal Airplay! There is a way to get it to happen. I have no idea what the rate radio charges for advertising time, but just like a jingle, Raymond James pays for the ad time, and says this next song is by Tampa Bay Recording Artists Mason and Alvarez is brought to you by Raymond James. Fat chance of it happening with the Bushwhacked song, but you get the idea. They sell buy advertising, we get the airplay, and a greater amount of people turn out for the show. It' is win win for all involved!



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Supply and demand - too many songs and musicians, not enough customers.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

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http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


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Great thread! I'm getting a major league education. I think there are tons and tons (and tons) of little businesses and coffee shops in violation who don't know they are in violation. I'm considering joining a PRO this summer, actually, and maybe going the Taxi route for a year to see if anything happens. To paraphrase Jak, better to try than to wonder "what if."

It is ironic, though, that I can perform a song I wrote in a venue and the venue pays money that is supposed to go to the writer but never goes to the writer which is me. I understand why it is, thanks to Brian's explanation, but it does feel a little stupid. The price of a cup of coffee... they should just give me a cup of coffee and be done with it. Wait... they already do. I guess we're even. smile





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Richard I could definitely hear your music being played on Tampa Bay radio without anyone turning off. Great stuff, thanks for being here. You should come out and do The Eternal Florida Folk and Medicine Show some Wednesday at Jolli Mon's.

I believe Taste in Safety Harbor is one one not in compliance. They do all they can to stay alive let alone pay for entertainment. At least it's an outlet for a songwriter.


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Leave it to Grant Peeples to Breath New Life into a thread where some people are afraid to step for fear they may ruin their career in a system thats "All Screwed Up". Mike Worrall, hope you don't mind but I'm gonna have to write a Nashville Tennessee Verse.

Grant Peeples and the Roland Stowne Interview

The Roland Stowne interview with Grant took place over several days in early January. This is the first installment. Roland Stowne is an independent writer and critic living in ....Canada.... with a dog.
.. ..
.. ..
RS: So it’s a new year. Word has it you have a new record in the works.
.. ..
GP: Yea, I’m raking songs into a pile right now.
.. ..
RS: You’re in the selection process?
.. ..
GP: It’s more culling than selecting. Separating wheat from chaff. That kinda thing.
.. ..
RS: You want to share any details? Does the record have a name yet?
.. ..
GP: “Pawnshop” would appear to be the name of the new record. I was going to call it “The Bush-Madof Economy.” But my friend, Donna Mavity, suggested Pawnshop. I was able to cut the title down to its core meaning and context: “Pawnshop.” Same thing as “The Bush-Madof Economy.” Just less words.
.. ..
RS: You sound angry. Still. I figured you’d be happy about the new Presidency.
.. ..
GP: Sure, I’m pleased Obama won. But Bush hocked the soul of our country. Sold our blood at that seedy looking plasma place between the porn store and the homeless shelter. Took the money and bought hookers and crack, threw an eight year sleep-over party for all his pals. The question now: Will a 700 billion dollar French kiss give a hard-on to the same economy Bush gave a 7 trillion dollar butt buggering to?
.. ..

RS: Aside from your vulgarity, you might be accused of hyperbole here, you know. All that being as it may, will the new record---any of the songs---offer any solutions?
.. ..

GP: Are you kidding? Gimme a break. It’s a record, man. I’m just an artist. Any time a work of art offers any ‘solution’ other than pure unadulterated revolution, it’s not a work of art, it’s….I don’t know. What? Toilet paper, maybe?

RS: All of this sounds confrontational, bleak and negative. Don’t people want to hear some songs that aren’t so sad?
.. ..

GP: They’re not sad. They’re hopeless.
.. ..
RS: Happy, then. Don’t they want to hear some happy songs?
.. ..
GP: Sure they want to. Some do, at least. The same ones who were buying properties with adjustable rate mortgages and trying to flip them and make a hundred percent profit. So, I’m not of a mind that they deserve happy songs. And I don’t really care about those people. I can’t relate to them, really. Besides, I try to keep my songs about what is. As it is. Not as it oughtta be. If people want Paxil or Wellbutrin in their ear canals, then they're gonna have to buy somebody else’s record. I got nothing for them. Sorry.
.. ..
RS: So---excuse my smile, but: do you think you can make a living doing this?
.. ..
GP: Truthfully, I think I’m pissing up a rope. But I don’t have any choice. I got a big mirror in my bathroom that I stare into every morning when I’m checking out the wear and tear. The mirror don’t lie, you know. And I’ve got peers and a small cadre of
fans--- “in the high-one, low-two figures,” as Jack Saunders would say---who would know immediately if I tried to bullshit some songs past the gates.
.. ..

RS: The gates? Are you talking about ....Nashville....?
.. ..
GP: I'm just talking about what I would see---“who” I would see---in that mirror, if I started painting houses instead of painting pictures of the glass houses I see crashing down around us. But, yea. I go to ....Nashville.... pretty much every month.
.. ..

RS: Why? I mean, don’t take this the wrong way, but do you really think you are writing songs for contemporary country radio?
.. ..

GP: You’re damn right I do. Just because a song doesn’t sound like something you hear on the radio, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong there. And it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t relate to the people who are listening to that radio. I don’t want YOU to take THIS the wrong way, but…....Nashville.... needs me.
.. ..

RS: (laughs) You must know that you are sounding….grandiose. Are you not worried about how this is going to read? That you are going to sound full of yourself?
.. ..

GP: Grandiose? I drove a thousand miles round trip this week for a $200 gig in ....Miami..... Slept in the back of my Honda Fit. I bought that car because it gets 35 miles to the That’s what I’m doing these days. Grandiose?
.. ..
RS: Okay. How about ‘self-important.’?
.. ..
GP: What difference does it make? Does any of that negate the truth of what I’m trying to tell you? Look. Taylor Swift sucks. I'd walk naked through the lobby of BMI in my cowboy boots saying that. Hell, LOTS of people know it. But it’s like the King has no clothes. With the noted exception of Jamey Johnson, I haven't heard any ball-clank coming out of ....Nashville.... in decades. Every now and then they cough out a flag-waving-bomb-the-bastards song that keeps them feeling like they’re not a bunch of pussies. But other than that, its insipid piss-water they’re squeezing out of the tube.

RS: You DO know that this interview is going to be read by millions of people.

GP: I can't help that. That’s your gig. Me? I’ve sold less than two thousand records in my career. Bob Marley said: “A hungry man is a dangerous man. The library shelves are full of poetry that doesn’t get read. That ain’t poetry’s fault. That’s the poet’s fault. I accept responsibility for my audience, which is small. But you have to accept responsibility for yours, which is inflated.

RS: I’m not sure where you are really going with all that. Regardless, some will say that with this kind of talk you are burning a bridge.

GP: I like the " scuttle-the-ship " metaphor better. John Conquest has a thing he tags on to every mailing he sends out: “You’re not getting older. The music really does suck.” I mean, have you LISTENED to contemporary country radio lately?
.. ..

RS: Yes, but have you seen how that format has grown and developed. Many have seen this as a Big Tent?

RS: What I’ve seen is how the sausage gets made in ....Nashville..... A couple of middle-class, suburbanite, college dweebs who’ve never shot dope or spent a night in jail or had their truck repossessed meet for a ‘writing appointment’ on music row at 10:00 a.m. They show up in Banana Republic dress, with their Blackberries and laptops and their Starbucks Coffee in hand, all ready to write a song. And they do. Invariably the song is about sweet tea and front porches and trains and tractors and a bunch of anachronistic bullshit that they have zero relationship to or with. But then some fuzzy-nut pretty-boy with a pitch corrector and a cowboy hat that hadn’t got any sweat stains on it records the song. And then a bunch people who’ve haven’t breathed through their noses in something like ten years stop sipping coffee out of Styrofoam cups at a focus group in Missouri long enough to all agree that the song sounds just like the [naughty word removed] they’ve been hearing on the radio, and so they give it a thumbs up and the song makes it into the rotation and, eventually, the charts.
.. ..

RS: So…you’ve taken it upon yourself to change the model?
.. ..
GP: When a snake bites you, what’s the first thing you do?
.. ..
RS: What do you mean?
.. ..
GP: I mean: What’s the first thing you do?
.. ..
RS: How about, seek medical attention.???
.. ..
GP: Wrong. First thing you do is you kill the snake. Jack Saunders taught me that.
.. ..
RS: You’re just sounding bitter. Not just sounding, but even your body language is
aggressive, agitated. One might wonder if maybe this isn’t a good path for you.

.. ..
GP: Bitter? I got lots of character defects, man. But begrudgement ain't one of them. Don’t confuse begrudgement with nausea. A month or so back there was Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, Jewel and that Hootie the Blowfish guy all in the top 20 of the country music charts. A Big Tent? I don’t think so. ....Nashville....’s a blind hog searching for an acorn.
.. ..
RS: And you think you fit the bill? You're that acorn?
.. ..
GP: There is no bill to fit, man. They’re clueless. Tom Hutchison got me a meeting with one of the heavies at ASCAP a few months ago. The guy leaned back in his chair and put his sissy pointy-toed shoes up on the desk and said: “Twenty-five years ago we were making music for the guys who were in bars at midnight. Now we’re making music for women who are driving to work at 8:00 in the morning.” That’s such utter bullshit. How do they let that guy keep a job?
.. ..
RS: What he said didn’t even raise an eyebrow from you? Didn’t you even scratch your head a little? Think about the market he was talking about.
.. ..
GP: The market? Look. The modus operandi of ....Nashville.... is to give people exactly what they liked last month. Just follow that scenario out for a decade or so. See what you got. For years it actually sorta worked because you had people crawling out of corners. People like Waylon and Mickey Newberry and Cash and Hag and Billy Joe Shaver and Gary Stewart. That kept things fresh, made the horizon worth looking at. And there were DJs and program directors that played those guys’ songs because the songs spoke to them. But ....Nashville.... and Clear Channel have got all the rat holes stuffed now. That gives them control over the bland fruit cocktail they’re making. There are no DJs any more. There’s no difference between what they call a DJ and that woman that talks to me on my GPS. “Re-cal-cu-late-ing.” And program directors are just spitting out the bile that focus groups regurgitate. It’s incestuous, and if you look at the eyes and teeth of the babies they’re making, you can tell it. The breeding stock’s gone soft. The mutations are grotesque.
.. ..
RS: And you want in? You want in scene that you describe?
.. ..

GP: I told you. I just want to help. I’ve got an anti-venom. And the truth is --- I’m a bit positive about the future. If not for me, for the industry.
.. ..
RS: And what’s that positive out-look based on?
.. ..
GP: The fact that we are probably headed for a world depression. And that the record industry was asleep at the wheel when the internet happened, and so now they are really hurting because of it. Then there’s the fact that Clear Channel is laying off people right and left because revenue is off so much. In other words, all the MBA models are melting in the heat of the kitchen. This is all positive. I wrote a song in the 90s called: “What This Country Needs Is A Good Depression.” Maybe that’s the real summation of what I’m saying.
.. ..
RS: Now you are sounding mean-spirited. You have to know that.
.. ..
GP: Why do you say that? Can’t you see that I just feel bad for the people who switch on their radios and have to listen Walmart-McDonalds music. I heard this hotshot ....Nashville.... music publisher say a couple of years ago: “If I’m listening to a song, I don’t want to have to turn down the TV and tell the kids to shut up so that I can figure out what the song is about.” That’s the mentality that’s at the switch.
.. ..
RS: And your point?
.. ..
GP: The point is if I was writing songs like you hear on contemporary country radio, why would I be taking them to ....Nashville....? They’ve got thousands of those songs in catalogs, and thousands more being written every week. That’d be like hauling coal to ....Newcastle..... If I’m going to drive up there and show what I got, it’s gotta be something they ain’t seen or heard. Or what’s the point? When somebody’s drowning you don’t hand them a glass of water.
.. ..
RS: Haul coal to ....Newcastle....? Beat your head against the wall? Piss up a rope? Blind hogs searching for acorns. Scuttling ships. You sound like a man in need of a metaphor.
.. ..
GP: Well, you got that fucking right. At least.
.. ..
.. ..

Sounding similar, I like the part where he says "if a snake bites you what do you do?"

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee



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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Wow.. there's so much to comment on here... and a lot of misinformation and a lot of bad bad ideas.

Well I sure wish someone could point out the good ideas or some better other than debating myself....

Let's start with the most critically wrong idea: That you can get away by telling musicians to only play originals and you won't get hit with a lawsuit. It's a fairy tale.

Heres why: If ANY artist plays a SINGLE song that was written or co-written by ANY writer registered with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC a single time, you have to pay the full year's license fee. This isn't some mafia scenario. It's Federally backed LAWS. The PRO's have a FIDUCIARY responsibility to collect those fees. In other words, they are breaking the law if they don't enforce those licensing fees set by the government. They are NOT the bad guys.

If some one is not smart enough to cover their ass this way they deserve a lawsuit just like the Tampa Bay Downs... The answer here is cover yourself!

Songwriters are FORCED, by FEDERAL STATUTE, to allow anyone to use their music to make money that wants to. You can't stop them. You can't stop a radio station from playing your song to attract listeners so they can make more money selling ad time. You can't stop bars and restaurants to use your music, performed by anyone they choose, to make money by entertaining their customers. You can't stop shops from using your song to create a pleasant atmosphere so they can make more money. Even if you are against what they are doing, you can't stop them.

Hell, most people would be flattered and lucky like winning the lottery, why would they feel forced to.

The truth is that any venue using music must pay for the right to do so at their convenience. Can they avoid paying that fee? Sure.. by not having live music OR.. NEVER.. not a SINGLE TIME.. ever having any song that is in the catalogs of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC performed by anyone in that venue, nor the radio played in the venue. The odds of that are slim to none.

This sounds like fear tactic to keep people from latching onto a good idea.

ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are simply collecting what is legally due to writers for the forced usage of their work. If songwriters could control their work, imagine how much it would cost everyone to ever have ANY live music? They'd have to negotiate with every writer or co-writer of every song. There would be no standard rate. There would be exclusivity on where you could hear certain songs. For example the Beatles could only give certain venues or certain radio stations permission to play their songs for a large additional fee. That would be devasting to any entity that used music in any way in their business for the public. It would also be devastating to all the writers who make some or all of their living of the current system of royalty payments.

Hell they can keep the the chump change as long as I'm selling getting people to shows and selling songs.

Apparently no one here makes money from a PRO. But I know MANY writers who make a LOT of their living from PRO Royalty payments. Not all of them are rich like JPF member Susan Gibson who made millions from her song "Wide Open Spaces" but many still make a few thousand every year from songs they've written which continue to get enough radio play or venue play to show up on the surveys.

"Wide Open Spaces" is a great song but I've heard many just as good or better coming from songwriters voices right here in the Tampa Bay!

There is no current surveying of small venues because it's not cost effective.

If it's not cost effective then how can it be cost effective to a venue?

The results would be even MORE unfair than the current system.

Well I'm Glad you agree here Brian!

If anything, the PRO's don't do ENOUGH to collect those fees due from venues that have live music. Too many of them get away without ever paying for a license.

As for the licenses, if broken down over a year, they're not that much. Unless you have a large venue that holds a large number of people and does a lot of live music (for example a place like the Ironhorse Saloon in Nashville) the fees are quite reasonable.

And their getting less and less because nobody wants to pay them, first you say the laws are unfair and now they're not doing enough.

Another right songwriters give up in exchange for the license fees is control over who can perform (or even record for that matter) their songs. You can't stop someone from doing after right of first release. In others words, once a song has been released for the first time for sale.

And like I said it's like playing the Lottery, put on a show and give a free CD away if they buy a ticket.

A: They haven't been paying the fees that were due.

B: They also refused to pay up when contacted by the PRO.

C: The PRO has proof that licensed songs were performed in that venue.

If those things are true, the venues CAN'T win. (In fact, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC have NEVER lost a single lawsuit EVER over collecting fees from a venue for use of music).

Again, not only do venues lose, but so do the local performing songwriters and musicians,....


PRO's don't want to put live venues out of business. They want MORE venues to use Live Music. But they must collect the fees due. If they don't, they themselves are breaking the law.

How convenient, and in who's eyes.

So folks.. the PRO's are NOT your enemy. They are your partner. Literally. If you don't like the way they are doing their job, you can change both from within because they are membership organizations. But no one has the right to refuse to pay and frankly, no one SHOULD refuse to pay. It's stealing. It's not different than illegal file stealing.

So basically they are looking the other way so the technology industry can make more of your money folks, does it really sound like these PRO's are friends or foes to the working class musician?

If you are using the music in your business, you need to pay for it. And the fees in the US are the cheapest in the WORLD thanks to the Restaurant lobby who is VERY powerful and has cut into the amounts that can be collected and the types of places that have to pay.

So what do you do about it? You EDUCATE the venues. You find out the cost of the licenses and you break it down and show them how live music can not only easily cover that cost, but make them even more profit. And you make sure that you entertain the audience enough to keep them there buying drinks or food from the venue so they earn more money. That's YOUR responsibility as the performer. If you can't do that, you aren't a professional and should be playing commercially (i.e. in a licensed venue). That's just part of the business.

I wish more folks would take the time to learn the truth about all of this and how it works. It's clear from the discussion above there is a lot of misinformation and misdirected anger and blame.

Brian, the only ones to blame are the people letting them get away with it, You even said above the system is unfair.

And even if you are playing your OWN songs, if you co-wrote a single one of them with an ASCAP, BMI or SESAC member, or ARE ONE yourself, then those PRO's have every right to collect a full year's license fee. You can thank the government for that. If you don't like it, work to change the law. But if you do, it will cause the end of commercial music as we know it. Be careful what you wish for.

It is clear a lot of great talent gets overlooked and a change is what is needed and it is what most should be wished for.

Brian


Please note my responses are in red if you have not figured it out,

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee

Last edited by Treble Hook; 01/26/09 06:53 AM.


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"Brian does this enter the equation? or are the screenings completed for our region?"

We don't judge based on where someone lives. That would be as valid as judging based on age or race or religion or hair color. It's simply not a factor of relevence. We got music from over 160 countries are we don't divide it up by country either. We do have some Continental divisions (Asian, South American, European, African) but that's for non English langauge music.

We've talked about having local winners by chapters, but the overall awards are so large and take so long to do, it seems better to focus on those. Many chapters have monthly contests among themselves where the vote on what the best song submitted was. That only works in chapters that have meetings where they play songs and give group critiques. We actually used to do that in Indianapolis for many years. If Tampa wants to start doing that, I am happy to speak with the coordinators if they ask.

Brian


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"Supply and demand - too many songs and musicians, not enough customers. Colin"

Colin pretty much said it. If the locals want more locals played, it will take a lot of cooperation to make a compelling case to the local stations. BUT.. and it's a huge one, even if you were able to get the local station to play all your friends music, there are thousands of other local musicians who will STILL be angry because THEIR music isn't played. And the reality is that there isn't enough air time to play a micro fraction of the music that is being made. Supply outweighs demand by an exponential and ever growing number. And it's only getting worse.

Not all types of songs will please a wide audience. Something that you LOVE may well be hated by the next person. Much of the very best music made is only liked by a small number of people. It isn't that the masses are stupid, as many often say when blaming media for what is popular. But it's very difficult to find something that the smallest number of people dislike enough to change the radio station. I worked at the largest most popular major radio station in Indianapolis. When we polled people to see what we should play, we didn't look for what people loved the most, we looked for what people hated the least. That's because radio stations are business, not art promoters. They need people to stay tuned in so their ratings will stay high and they can stay in business. There's no money in playing what people love. There's money, however, in being the station that most often plays stuff that no one hates.

So.. an example.

We poll 10 people about Song A and Song B.

4 people LOVE Song A. 3 people are neutral, they don't love it and they don't hate it and they aren't compelled to change the station. 4 people hate it.

1 person LOVES Song B. 8 people are neutral, they don't love it and they don't hate it and they aren't compelled to change the station. 1 person hates it.

They will ALWAYS play song B and not song A. Song B keeps 90% of the audience. Song A only keepy 70%. It's really that simple.

Big Radio networks spend a LOT of money polling songs to find out what people are least likely to change the stations on. They also learn how long songs need to be and what tempo. All these things are micro managed and the results are very homogenized playlists of music that people neither love nor hate. And that, my friends, is hit radio.

Now if they could find songs that 9 people LOVED and only 1 hated, they would ALWAYS play that more than the one where only 1 person loved it and 8 were neutral. But even if 8 people love it and 2 hate it, it's likely going to be history.

Real life example? When I was at that radio station, the #1 song in the entire country was REM's "Losing My Religion." But the survey's in Indianapolis (which is the 13th largest city in the USA but is a much smaller ranking as a radio market because all the nearby cities are small) came back very negative on the song. Sure, many people LOVED it.. but too many HATED it. So even though we were the largest rated station in the entire state of Indiana, we never played that song during it's run at the top of the chart. Now before you get angry at me, it wasn't my call. At the time I argued and fought but the Program Director in charge refused. And later, when I really LEARNED the BUSINESS of radio, I realized that the PD was correct. We didn't want 20% of them turning the station to the competition when it came on. That was big money out of our pockets and putting our top rating at risk.

Musicians often neither understand nor agree with any of this. And I understand why they feel the way they do because I was right there with them. But radio is a BUSINESS... not an Art advocate. And since that time, things have only gotten more refined and less localized. That same station today doesn't even make their own playlist. It's chosen by someone in another state. At least back then we called local listeners ourselves and made the playlist that was unique to that one station. Ironically, not that it's made elsewhere, that station is WAY back in the ratings today. That Program Director knew exactly what he was doing for his own market. The artist in me hated that but the businessman in me learned and understood very well. Musicians need to learn and understand all these aspects of business very well if they hope to find commercial success. That's because you need to be a BUSINESS person if you want to make a serious living, even locally. Learning the business and working within the realities of it prepare you to approach your career in a sensible and effective way. Raging against the machine and spinning your wheels and leaning against the windmill of truth isn't going to get you far.

To address Al's point. First, I wish Al had stepped up earlier and made his comments. He's correct, but a bit late to the battle. These are all the types of things that should be discussed at Chapter events going forward. It's far more important than anything else that could happen there. If the local members are not moving forward with an understanding of the basic workings of the music business, they can't possibly succeed or improve on their situation in commercial terms. If local members want to improve on local radio, they first need to UNDERSTAND how it all works. If they want to support a great venue that actually PAYS the performers (something that is sadly becoming rare) then rather than giving the person who runs it really bad advice about trying to beat the system by avoiding ANY songs that are registered with a PRO, they should instead be helping her avoid the risk she's putting herself into by following that really bad advice. Instead find a way to make sure she makes enough money to cover the cost of licenses and doing it all legit. Give her the option, by being licensed, to hire the best performers and not worry about what songs they are playing. Why try to beat the system when a single slip up could cause her to put the entire venue at risk of legal action and closure if they can't pay? Bad idea. Learn the business and then help your partners at venues learn how to make money using music to enhance their business and entertain their customers.

Friends shouldn't let their friends wallow in ignorance. When someone says something untrue, the leaders of this chapter and the moderators of this board and the general members who know the truth should quickly step in and correct it. When someone is ranting and raving against a legit company or organization or individual, folks should step up en masse and let them know the truth and you should all be intolerant of those unwilling to accept the truth who continue to mislead and attack. That's simply not acceptable and no one should allow it to happen. It's okay to be wrong, everyone is sometimes. But once the info is there, it's not okay to remain ignorant and belligerent. At least not on this website. If Al is correct and most of the Tampa folks knew this info was untrue, then they should have stepped in right away and corrected it. Hopefully going forward everyone will.

Brian


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Richard,

If you think it is stupid you're not alone. Though I would use the word unfortunate. Right now there is no system that would work and be cost effective and honest that could monitor the exact songs that were performed at every venue in the world every night. If you can think of a system that can do it honestly and accurately and not give room for people to cheat the system, then write it down and post it here. I am happy to take realistic suggestions directly to the powers that be. I've even made suggestions myself and posted them in the newsletter. I heard back from all the PRO's about it too. I plan to push my ideas when I am in DC in a couple weeks. But right now, as things stand, there is no solution to do what everyone wants. So you have to pick the best option available and that's what the PRO's have done.

Brian


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Scotty,

I just read your responses in Red. It appears you're just not willing to deal with the truth. I'm sorry but it's also clear that there's no much more I can do to help you. You agreed a long time ago to get a book and learn the business side that you still don't seem to have a practical or realistic understanding of. Did you get that book as promised? Are you reading it?

Actually, I think you do understand it, you're just not willing to acknowledge it.

Since Al has stated that he and most of the Tampa members know these things, I will leave it to him to continue to answer your questions.

Good luck,

Brian


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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Scotty,

I just read your responses in Red. It appears you're just not willing to deal with the truth. I'm sorry but it's also clear that there's no much more I can do to help you. You agreed a long time ago to get a book and learn the business side that you still don't seem to have a practical or realistic understanding of. Did you get that book as promised? Are you reading it?

Actually, I think you do understand it, you're just not willing to acknowledge it.

Since Al has stated that he and most of the Tampa members know these things, I will leave it to him to continue to answer your questions.

Good luck,

Brian


Thank You Brian, and yes I can deal with the truth, and I wont drink myself into oblivion over it either, even if a poll in Indiana dictates a Market in the Tampa Bay area. It seems like a very brainwashing way of doing things. I see you are on a panel at the Future of Music Coalition Presents: DC Policy Day 2009. It seems some of the very topics I've reiterated here are going to be talked about. Hopefully, not shimmied over. I'll check your blogs and see what you have planned to bring to the table if they are not there please point me in the right direction.

Peace on and offshore,
Scotty Lee Rexroat



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Fascinatin' thread, guys and gals.

I still have a problem. I don't argue that songwriters should get paid. I am one. I like getting paid. I don't argue that if a venue is booking live music, money should go into some kind of pot to compensate the authors whose music is getting played. And I don't argue (though I may grumble about it) that it's difficult to split up that money to get it to the writers whose stuff is actually being performed.

That said, it strikes me as exceedingly unfair how it's being done. The money is being split up according to how many plays a song is getting on commercial radio, which as near as I can tell (prove me wrong, please) is being controlled by the big boys for the benefit of the big boys. Little guys like me may get played on the radio (I have), but it's small stuff--college and independent radio, not the Clear Channel monster that only plays the same twenty songs over and over and over again. And I don't see ASCAP and BMI tracking the small stuff--only the big stuff I can't (and may never be able to) break into.

And if money is being paid theoretically on my behalf and deliberately diverted to someone else, that's a tax, and I don't like it.

I know the PRO license fees are a cost of doing business. If I'm paid entertainment, *I* am a cost of doing business, too. And money spent on the PRO fees that deliberately go to someone else and will never go to me are money that could have been used to pay me more. I would frankly rather see that $600 (or whatever) split up arbitrarily among the original writers who perform their stuff at a venue, rather than get sent off to (among others) the author of "Achy Breaky Heart," which a lot of venue owners would never allow to be played there.

Brian, when I joined BMI, they sent me their rules. I did not and do not see any way those rules can get changed. My "membership" allows me only to participate, as near as I can tell--it does not permit me to even try to change things. That is one reason why I have not "registered" my whole catalog with them. I'm not sure I like the game.

joe

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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Richard,

If you think it is stupid you're not alone. Though I would use the word unfortunate. Right now there is no system that would work and be cost effective and honest that could monitor the exact songs that were performed at every venue in the world every night. If you can think of a system that can do it honestly and accurately and not give room for people to cheat the system, then write it down and post it here. I am happy to take realistic suggestions directly to the powers that be. I've even made suggestions myself and posted them in the newsletter. I heard back from all the PRO's about it too. I plan to push my ideas when I am in DC in a couple weeks. But right now, as things stand, there is no solution to do what everyone wants. So you have to pick the best option available and that's what the PRO's have done.

Brian


I've thought about it a lot. There's no easy answer. I can't even think of a hard answer. I do wonder what it would cost, per month, for a small coffee shop to be able to feature live music. You said the price of a cup of coffee per day, but the price of coffee varies dramatically depending on where you go! smile

No, seriously, it'd be good to know.


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I have learned a lot from this discussion....it is one thing to read in a book how it works and another to see (or hear about) the system in action.

When you boil it all down, the PRO/songwriter piece of it is working. The writers of the most popular songs make the most money. Those whose songs are not popular, don't make any money....the same as in a hundred other businesses, musical or otherwise.

If there is a fault in the system, it lies not in the PRO part of it, but in the part where songs are selected for radio play or not. It is hard to break into radio because of the oversupply, and, as Brian stated, because the songs are selected for the lowest common denominator (which is pretty darned low IMHO).

It will be interesting to see how the internet affects this in the long run because almost anyone can get their song played on internet radio or some obscure website. Maybe it will flatten out the pyramid and those at the top will receive less and those in the middle will get a bit more. Those of us at the bottom will still earn chump change!


Colin

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I would rather be at the bottom than no where at all!




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Going back to the initial title of the thread.

The changing media of the industry is a puzzle in its own right. Undoubtably deserves its own thread.

The burden of ASCAP/BMI/SESAC licensing is on the venue.

Perhaps the real nut to crack is focusing on how to achieve the next level of advancement in the music career.

Start by truthfully defining and realizing where you are now.

In every industry, there is a career ladder, and a recognized work ethic of those sincerely approaching the industry with a resolve to advance.

There is an industry, in every industry, created for the sole purpose of guiding one through the industry.

Sounds like talking in circles?

It is, and that is how the "help" industry perpetuates itself.

There are also industries in the music business that cater to the hobbyist, and will happily keep you there, in the role of a hobbyist, buying the stuff you feel you need, and that they guide you towards, to keep your dream alive.

Even a serious hobbyist is still a hobbyist, and not a professional.

If you are a dedicated hobbyist, do you have entitlement to the professional career ladder?

Live performance is where the largest, and most accessible opportunity and potential to make a few bucks exists, and is the ground work needed to get a foot on the rung of the professional career ladder.

The artist's role is to prepare and present an entertainment act, that is of value to the venue.

The value is determined by the expected increase in revenue the venue can expect, based on past performance by the entertainment act.

This is so basic, yet so often overlooked.

The trouble with artists at the "hobbyist" rung of the ladder in general, is the work put into the huff and puff and fluff being a distraction the basic principals of doing business.

The pros approach it as a business, as do the venues.

Start there, and see if your perception of "Working Musician" might begin to evolve.







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Originally Posted by Jerry Jakala
I would rather be at the bottom than no where at all!


I'm with you, Jerry! I do this for fun. I'm definitely not stealing gigs from career musicians... no career musician would ever play the places I play, unless they were doing the owner a huge favor...


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Although hobbyist or not, I wish even small coffeeshop owners would know how important music is to their venue- and therefore budget for it in their business plan. I would think they would lose more money in a completely silent venue (no radio or CD even- you have to pay to have those on too) vs hiring a musician for the night.
I look at it this way- pro or not, if someone hires a plumber...and the job is in a terrible neighborhood where most pro plumbers don't really want to go...and he tells the slumlord that he isn't a full time plumber (but he is actually quite good), so he'll work for gas money...I think it not only devalues his work but the work of the other plumbers out there. What's wrong with going out and doing work for little to nothing if you are having fun, right?
I don't think it is about stealing gigs at all, but about keeping the relative value of the work perfomed high in the eyes of the musicians and the venue.

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If you consider playing music to be a trade, it is one of the only ones where people are not bashful about asking for some free work. Who would ask their mechanic or nurse to come out and fix their car or change their diaper in exchange for a cup of coffee?


Colin

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http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


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I think some of the club owners think they are doing us a favor by letting us play there when actually we are doing them a favor with the live music.
Some places won't even pay the PRO fees let alone pay musicians.
A real bucket of manure!



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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
If you consider playing music to be a trade, it is one of the only ones where people are not bashful about asking for some free work. Who would ask their mechanic or nurse to come out and fix their car or change their diaper in exchange for a cup of coffee?


Depends on the job. I do computer work for a living, and everyone and their brother that I know expects me to come and fix their computer issues for them for free. I don't, of course. Unless I honestly like them. smile

Steve said it best. It's about the venue and the artist. If you put together an act that can draw a crowd, you can command pay for that. Some venues will have a crowd whether an act is there or not. Some venues will have no crowd unless someone is there, so they expect the artist to bring their "following."

The hobbyist vs. pro discussion is a slippery slope. I'm definitely a hobbyist. I can go to my local coffee shop and set up and play for two hours, to a small group of folks, and put a little money in my pocket, and I like that. The place may not be paying me much, but they're also not making a ton of money from their small crowd. A Pro can get mad at me, because I'm not asking for more money, but this is a free country and I'm doing what I want to do, at this point in time, and I'm not undercutting the other artists who play at the same little place.

But if I were to go to some of the places that pay decent wages and offer to start playing there for free, undercutting the other artists who play there... well, to me, that's wrong and I wouldn't do it.





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Richard, You may consider yourself a hobbiest but in my opinion your original material, and delivery of that material is really impressive. Please don't be one of these (guys or gals) who gets hit by a bus one day with 200 songs under the bed. That goes for everyone here if you have good material get it coppywritten and get it out there to publishers.
On that note I just decided to host an interim meeting sometime between our February and March showcases and we're gonna discuss this PRO issue and find out who's doing what and where. And there will be no ranting, no personal agendas just good constructive dialog.
Keep Strummin' Al


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Great idea AL!




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The difference between genius and stupidity is that there is a limit on genius.-Albert Einstein
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