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BMI, ASCAP, etc. suing bars?

Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
Yep! I almost never listen to anything resembling classic rock radio, and rarely listen any more to most of what I would call "my favorite bands" - Zep, The Who, Yes, Genesis, U2, Beatles, Stones, Floyd, the Dead, etc - even though I have all their tunes, I rarely spin them unless they happen to show up on shuffle. That way when I do hear them somewhere I'm like "cool!" instead of burnt out on it. And when I play some of them in a band I can still enjoy it a lot more.

Smart.

Personally I don't mind, unless its on a classic rock radio station. I worked a factory hall briefly and I swear that classic radio station that was on all the time seemed to play the exact same songs every day.

And yea, screw all the classical musicians (and most of the jazz players too)... they're all just cover artists. ;-)

Although for them its not about the faithful reproduction down to the last note and FX sound but about the re-interpretation. That's gotta matter, right? Especially since in the case of classical musicians there don't exist any recordings of the original composer. And no real jazz musician would ever play the same song exactly the same twice.
 

Fro

Experienced
Although for them its not about the faithful reproduction down to the last note and FX sound but about the re-interpretation. That's gotta matter, right? Especially since in the case of classical musicians there don't exist any recordings of the original composer. And no real jazz musician would ever play the same song exactly the same twice.

At least in a symphony setting, the interpretation is assumed to be a certain way. If you deviate too much, you won't get the job with the symphony. A symphony can actually play without a conductor for the most part since they all have been taught to interpret certain composers, and certain pieces a certain way. Plus the music has the detailed road map you must follow. You might see solo musicians deviating more with interpretation, especially when someone plays a piece on an instrument that it wasn't originally written for. That's where cover music in the pop world also becomes exciting and interesting, like Tori Amos playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on the piano, or just about anything originally played at 110 db covered on an acoustic guitar. Then there is the opposite, punk renditions of folk songs. We like to do rock versions of pop songs, or guitar versions of piano songs. It's fun coming up with new and different arrangements.

Another point in favor of the venue being responsible for the licensing fees is that it gives the performer complete freedom to play whatever they want at a moments notice. Imagine if someone yelled out a request, and you had to say, "I'm sorry, we can't perform Free Bird tonight. We didn't obtain the necessary licensing." Though I think I will use that as an excuse next time!
 

Geezerjohn

Fractal Fanatic
I have done covers and original music. When doing covers I will take any requests but I refuse to do anything by Vic Damone. He should not be doing show biz because he can’t wear a monogram on his shirts. I don’t support that.
 

henryrobinett

Fractal Fanatic
Were they not licensed? If not, it sounds like a classic case of someone not understanding how licensing laws for music work. Licensing for music has long been a requirement for publicly accessible venues. Nothing new here. Their getting a lesson in how the world works and how song writers and copyright owners have gotten paid for a very long time now.
I stayed away from even looking at this thread because I didn't want to wade into it, and I still don't. But like iaresee said, this is the way it's supposed to be done. Restaurants, music venues all are licensed. They have a liquor license too. It's part and parcel of doing business. Business license. Musicians should get paid for their work, one way or another. Composers should be compensated. Just because the wheels fell off the wagon doesn't mean everyone should be justified in stealing. Someone found out the door was unlocked, the camera's off and now everyone feels justified in stealing whatever is in the store, just because you can't get caught. The biggest thieves are those who insist they LOVE the music the most. What the hell kind of sense does that make? I've had students tell me, "But otherwise I could never afford this music!" Uh, right. Just like anything else, you get a job, make some money and legally purchase that music you love so much, Support the artists. Don't rip them off. Restaurants, cafes and any place music is played. Even grocery stores and shopping malls pay for their muzak licenses.

There. I'm done.
 
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TG3K

Power User
...Remember, we're the minority in here - most people aren't musicians, don't understand or care about all that, and want to hear songs they know.

I agree, and see it all the time. The average Joe and Jane want to hear music they're familiar with. I play on a pool league team every Monday, and we always play at the same place. This pool hall has a jukebox that accesses the Internet, so it literally has millions of songs available. But for some reason, that jukebox seems to play the same 30-40 songs all the time. We hear everything from country, classic and grunge rock, to the nastiest rap and hip-hop out there. But it's always the same songs. Every. Single Week.

I've done the original thing, and we were successful at it when we were young and had no other job but music. But these days I've got a day job and a mortgage and other adulting stuff to do, so instead of spending my days trying to market a band and build a following, I'd rather play covers a few nights a month at the local pubs to a crowd that enjoys hearing our take on their favorite songs.
 
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Muad'zin

Fractal Fanatic
I stayed away from even looking at this thread because I didn't want to wade into it, and I still don't. But like iaresee said, this is the way it's supposed to be done. Restaurants, music venues all are licensed. They have a liquor license too. It's part and parcel of doing business. Business license. Musicians should get paid for their work, one way or another. Composers should be compensated. Just because the wheels fell off the wagon doesn't mean everyone should be justified in stealing. Someone found out the door was unlocked, the camera's off and now everyone feels justified in stealing whatever is in the store, just because you can't get caught. The biggest thieves are those who insist they LOVE the music the most. What the hell kind of sense does that make? I've had students tell me, "But otherwise I could never afford this music!" Uh, right. Just like anything else, you get a job, make some money and legally purchase that music you love so much, Support the artists. Don't rip them off. Restaurants, cafes and any place music is played. Even grocery stores and shopping malls pay for their muzak licenses.

There. I'm done.

Composers should be compensated, artists should be compensated. But of course the whole music industry was geared towards NOT compensating composers and artists. All the old blues artists basically died poor and pennyless, Prince stopped calling himself Prince because he didn't own his own music. And how the hell could Michael Jackson end up owning the rights to the music of the Beatles? The biggest thieves are not people downloading music illegally, they're the equivalent of shoplifters. Shoplifters are never big thieves, at best only a nuisance. The biggest thieves are those who have the power to use the law and political connections to rob whole countries. The biggest thieves are the record company executives and copy rights mafia, who gave their artists peanuts and made consumers pay inflated prices. And worse, inflicted the massive horror that is modern day pop music on us.

I wish artists would sell us their music directly. Like go to their websites, click on a paypal link and you'd get a CD sent, or a download link. And I would do it, knowing that they would get 100% of the profits and the biggest thieves would get nothing! But don't give me that nonsense that I as a downloader was robbing artists, because artists were getting robbed, and massively robbed, decades before Napster got invented.
 

paulasbell

Inspired
But don't give me that nonsense that I as a downloader was robbing artists...

You can concoct any rationalization you want... and in fact, did. But it's a simple fact. Free downloaders are pirates.

It's ALSO true that large streaming services like Spotify and Pandora are ALSO responsible for the near-impossibility of making a living as a recording artist. But the "nonsense" is people's denial of the obvious... which is that the vast majority of people who once paid for recorded music no longer have to. And, they don't.
 

henryrobinett

Fractal Fanatic
Composers should be compensated, artists should be compensated. But of course the whole music industry was geared towards NOT compensating composers and artists. All the old blues artists basically died poor and pennyless, Prince stopped calling himself Prince because he didn't own his own music. And how the hell could Michael Jackson end up owning the rights to the music of the Beatles? The biggest thieves are not people downloading music illegally, they're the equivalent of shoplifters. Shoplifters are never big thieves, at best only a nuisance. The biggest thieves are those who have the power to use the law and political connections to rob whole countries. The biggest thieves are the record company executives and copy rights mafia, who gave their artists peanuts and made consumers pay inflated prices. And worse, inflicted the massive horror that is modern day pop music on us.

I wish artists would sell us their music directly. Like go to their websites, click on a paypal link and you'd get a CD sent, or a download link. And I would do it, knowing that they would get 100% of the profits and the biggest thieves would get nothing! But don't give me that nonsense that I as a downloader was robbing artists, because artists were getting robbed, and massively robbed, decades before Napster got invented.
No. The biggest thieves ARE the people downloading music. Prince made quite a lot of money. The battle was over the right to his name. The Beatles made a TON of money. Paul just wanted to own his publishing, which was owned by Northern Songs. He'd make more and be able to make decisions about what he wanted to do with his songs. Control. But he made money from his music. No question. People bought them. The Beatles today would make bupkis. Same with Prince. No money in it.

Let me tell you from my tiny perspective. I was signed years ago to a small label. I got a measly 8-12%. BUT the company put a TON of money behind me. They paid for the studio. They paid for the producer. They paid for all of the artwork. They advanced me money. They paid for advertising and marketing: radio and magazine ads. They got me into print reviews for the music magazine of the day.

Yes, they got money from record ONE, as they should have. I didn't. They INVESTED in ME. I didn't like it at the time. But then I started my own label and signed a few artists. Let me tell you. The financial outlay is huge. Retailers demand full buy back for anything not sold. You have to have MONEY. I began to see the record company as NOT the evil empire I thought it once was. I made a LOT MORE MONEY as an artist than I ever could under this one.

Then after all is said and done the FANS are the ones who rip you off. Not the record company. How ironic.
 
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plexi59

Guest
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.”

Hunter S. Thompson, may he rest in peace.

IMO “cover” performances should be covered by fair use, perhaps with a limit for the size of the venue. It’s not like the artists are going to see a single dime of those royalties anyway, no matter how much blood BMI and ASCAP squeeze out of this particular stone, and I have negative amounts of sympathy for the middlemen of all kinds.
 

henryrobinett

Fractal Fanatic
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.”

Hunter S. Thompson, may he rest in peace.

IMO “cover” performances should be covered by fair use, perhaps with a limit for the size of the venue. It’s not like the artists are going to see a single dime of those royalties anyway, no matter how much blood BMI and ASCAP squeeze out of this particular stone, and I have negative amounts of sympathy for the middlemen of all kinds.
I agree. But I support the artists, musicians and composers.
 

electronpirate

Moderator
Moderator
Yes, this is ridiculous. I always thought there should be a venue size covered by fair use. How much money are they going to make with a weekend warrior playing 'Old Time Rock and Roll' once or twice a month for beer soaked 50 year old power drinkers? (For basically an amount of money that may or may not cover your bar bill.)

I would argue that a well done cover actually drives towards the music purchasing business. Hell, even a crappy one tends to have me scurrying to my computer to get the sound out of my head.

There is a good argument that older musicians tend to revolve around money grabs. Yes, Paul is one example, but even Bowie used to try to charge $40 a month to be part of his fan site. And lawyers have a REALLY good way of legitimizing all those hours they charge...new blood in the water.

R
 

lqdsnddist

Axe-Master
Tricky issue with illegal downloading, pirating software, etc, and the “losses” it causes is determining if that downloaded would of been an actual customer.

Take photoshop for example, probably the most pirated software title around. It’s pricey to buy, or was at least, before the subscription model, I think like $599 or something like that. Well you could argue that if 100 people got a pirated copy Adobe “lost” over half a million dollars. But, how many of those 100 people actually would of bought it ? How many got it just because it was “free” and then never even use it ? Good majority, so Adobe didn’t lose nearly as much sense they wouldn’t of otherwise sold it in the first place.

It’s not to say it doesn’t have a cost, it does, but at least amongst folks I grew up with, we bought the albums for bands we really liked. Wanted the liner notes etc, and often we might of had stuff downloaded too, but it was stuff we never would of bought at any price.

Not saying it’s right or victimless, but the loss of earnings estimates have always been totally unrealistic to me.
 
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plexi59

Guest
The only remaining way to support the artist is by going to their show or buying something from them directly. Neither revenue stream is impacted by cover performances.
 

Fro

Experienced
The concept of music being licensed for a live performance makes sense to me. Since live performance seems to be the only place left for a musician to make money, I don’t see why the songwriters shouldn’t benefit as well. Having the venue pay for the licensing also makes sense, at least to me.

But what I’ve always had an issue with is how ASCAP or BMI figure out which artists get the money and how it’s distributed. My understanding is that it’s just a general formula based on sales and downloads in other areas. If a song is streamed more than others, than it surely must also be performed live more than others, right? But that’s not always the case and doesn’t cover every scenario. Since the streaming and download system is somewhat broken, I don’t see how it could be blindly applied to live performances, especially cover bands in bars.

Like I mentioned earlier, in all the years I’ve been playing, nobody has ever asked for a copy of my set lists, and nobody to my knowledge has ever logged what I play. I can only assume that everyone else has similar experiences, or lack there of. So that means that ASCAP and BMI are basically just guessing who gets the money and how much. I think there should either be a better system in place to figure out the distributions, or the money shouldn’t be collected. I 100% think songwriters should be compensated, no argument from me there. But I also think that if the money collected isn’t going to the songwriter, then it shouldn’t be lining someone else’s pocket either. I don’t mind being a musician and not making any money at it. But I don’t like being a musician when someone else gets my money.

BTW - I am enjoying the opinions in this thread. There are some strong opinions here, but everyone has been very civil with their posts. I appreciate that.
 

henryrobinett

Fractal Fanatic
They aren’t “guessing”. _They_ get the money. Artists get bupkis. :)
No. the formula is pretty random. Or was. It could be very accurate now if there was the purpose to do it. The writers and publishers got the money. I certainly got money from BMI. Not a lot but a got checks twice a year. Though not a lot it was a fortune compared to what I get from streaming and iTunes, Amazon sales and Tunecore.
 

solo-act

Fractal Fanatic
I haven’t read the thread - has anyone ever found out total licence fee revenue generated by these companies, percent of revenue that goes to artists, which artists have seen greatest benefit, and what were those $ amounts?

If it’s a system designed to benefit artists/composers, then it should publish that info.
 

NeoSound

Fractal Fanatic
People should make money for their work but if no one plays the old music, it's only a memory anyways? My guess would be that what BMI and ASCAP get for running their system is far more than what the artist receive and that's their true motivation.
I also can't help but see a conspiracy brewing where physical copies of music, movies, pictures, video games etc... are going the way of the dinosaur :eek:o_O
 
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