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Joined: Nov 2002
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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
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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.


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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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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

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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

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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 Iím 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 youíve 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 donít 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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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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