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I don't know about you guys, but in the last couple years I've had three venues shut down because BMI/ASCAP sent out people to get set lists of live performers. And then, found the songs in their catalog and required the owner to play public performance royalties.

What bothers me about this is that these smaller venues trying to get started have a hard time paying $500 to a band on a $1500 night. This is after paying staff, overhead, food and beverage costs, marketing etcetera. So when they get hit by BMI/ASCAP they decide not to have live music anymore, and musicians sit at home.

I have seen a number of tunes, however, with Creative Commons Licenses that get around this problem. These licenses vary in their restrictions, but one license that is the most popular allows other people to perform, record, print, and share charts for free -- provided the author is credited and the material is shared with others on the same terms as the license.

Here is one project that is like the Real Book, except it's free and legal to print, share, and record the tunes, and most of all, play the tunes live. The composers granted a Creative Commons license that allows this...

So, if you want to get out playing at venues that say "we can't afford the public performance royalties"...here is the answer...and there is no account setup or email address giving up required...just a straight download.

Charts -- https://todaysjazz.yolasite.com/downloads.php

https://todaysjazz.yolasite.com/songmp3.php

Here is a facebook page on it in case you want updates on new charts being issues all the time...

https://www.facebook.com/todaysjazzbook
 

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Having a common domain and/or creative commons repertoire of music is certainly just fine, and it's a cool-looking platform that you're developing for that! I definitely don't want to try to detract from anyone's creative project. That being said... I am curious which venues are paying bands $500 at all, let alone on a $1500 night. I've booked hundreds of venues in this country and I've yet to encounter that.

In my experience, musicians and groups are being extremely under-paid at nearly every venue in the United States, even if they're bringing in a fair number of people (and thereby doing advertising work for the venue on top of providing the music for it). I know running a venue is very challenging, as is running a band, but musicians are very easily exploited since there are more quality musicians than there is work for them. Also, making a living as a composer is very tough, even if you're extremely good at it.

I am skeptical of the claim that ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are causing venues to shut down. Live performance royalties are very, very low. There's nothing wrong with performing common domain repertoire at all, there's plenty of wonderful music under that umbrella and composers have every right to use a creative commons license if they choose. I make a fair portion of my living as a composer, though, and I'm definitely of the opinion that composers' work should be valued, in every sense of the term.

Performing rights organizations have been a huge boon to composers throughout the decades and they continue to be so. I'll probably be taking their side over most venues.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Although I would never deny anyone's right to give music away, I make my living from royalties received from licences and collection agencies so naturally I support the idea of venues paying for licences so that we composers can continue making a living.

I sympathise with small venues getting started, but the music performance licence is just another part of the business plan, along with bar staff, stock, insurance, rent, rates, advertising, sound system, furniture etc.. Obviously they want to minimise their outlay so something gets cut down on - a pity it is payment for music.
 

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I am skeptical of the claim that ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are causing venues to shut down. Live performance royalties are very, very low. There's nothing wrong with performing common domain repertoire at all, there's plenty of wonderful music under that umbrella and composers have every right to use a creative commons license if they choose. I make a fair portion of my living as a composer, though, and I'm definitely of the opinion that composers' work should be valued, in every sense of the term.
Actually, I disagree with all of this aside from your last sentence.

Quite honestly...say, for example, you are in groups which play jazz standards, your basic Real Book repertoire of stuff. Good material, lots of it too.

You can be skeptical if you like, and perhaps getting hit with an ASCAP/BMI notice would not 'shut down' a joint....but the reality is, it is enough for a venue to STOP having live music. You may be skeptical this doesn't happen, but I have actually seen it in action myself. In Portland, literally, there were these reps sent out to (of all things) neighborhood street festivals. I kid you not.

Next, if you play, say, Real Book tunes...by all means go ahead and research and compile a repertoire of Public Domain jazz tunes. The repertoire will, to put it bluntly...suck. I mean, one can say it would be a challenge for a good arranger to make them hip, but honestly....with the vast majority of Public Domain 'jazz' tunes, your band would be in Polish the **** hell, basically.

So BMI, ASCAP rally DOES this, they really do. And over the past several years they have become way more aggressive about it. This is a fact.

Sorry, I agree with most of your posts here, but your skepticism that these organizations aren't actually aggressively going after venues like never before isn't based upon what I, for one, have actually seen going on out there.

Regarding valuing composers, I agree with this in theory. I would argue what BMI/ASCAP is really doing has very little to do with them 'valuing' their 'artists', though.
 

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I sympathise with small venues getting started, but the music performance licence is just another part of the business plan, along with bar staff, stock, insurance, rent, rates, advertising, sound system, furniture etc.. Obviously they want to minimise their outlay so something gets cut down on - a pity it is payment for music.
Absoiutely, but let's clarify something. A 'music performance license' issued by a given municipality does not necessarily mean that such license covers ASCAP/BMI compliance, royalties, etc.

But you raise a good point, certainly. I would be curious. Say, for example, I run a cafe and we have Jazz 3 nights a week. I have gotten my live music/cabaret/etc. license from my municipality; all other local/state licensure is taken care of. I know that a lotta groups are gonna play standards/covers.
How much would it cost me to get licensure/permits which would comply with BMI/ASCAP rules ? So nothing like what the OP describes would happen to my biz ?

Would the fees and process be reasonable ?

IF the answer is 'yes', then I wholeheartedly agree with you, Pete. It simply becomes part of the cost of running a local Cafe which has Jazz a few nights a week. Just like the espresso makers and providing a second means of egress, it is part of the regular cost of running that Cafe.
 

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So, if you want to get out playing at venues that say "we can't afford the public performance royalties"...here is the answer...and there is no account setup or email address giving up required...just a straight download.

Charts -- https://todaysjazz.yolasite.com/downloads.php

https://todaysjazz.yolasite.com/songmp3.php

Here is a facebook page on it in case you want updates on new charts being issues all the time...

https://www.facebook.com/todaysjazzbook
This is interesting, but the 'problem' here is the same as what I described in my first reply here: material in the Common domain....just ain't all that hip. NOT to dis any of the composers/pieces in this publication, but it really handcuffs your material, no ?

I support the idea of this project, although if I were a skeptic, I might look upon it as more a mechanism for the composers to get their material out there for the benefit of their own careers, as opposed to a movement to push back against what many might consider corporate bullying.
If I were a skeptic, of course.

Interestingly there are those who argue that the original Real Book, purchased back in the day with a hushed voice and a sideways glance to the guy behind the counter (for those of us old enuff to recall), was actually really produced as the same sort of vehicle. Collected, transcribed, and printed/released by a certain group of composers/artists who more or less 'inserted' their own contemporary compositions into a bible of classic standards; part of the intent being to make their own pieces become part of the standard repertoire.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Absoiutely, but let's clarify something. A 'music performance license' issued by a given municipality does not necessarily mean that such license covers ASCAP/BMI compliance, royalties, etc.
No, but I thought we were talking about licenses issued by the collection agencies. A municipality or local council licences may cover selling alcohol, dancing, music etc... but I thought this thread was about the licenses by ASCAP, PRS etc. which are the ones that ask venues or promoters to provide lists of compositions played. (Not necessarily live music but covers DJs, radio and streaming)

These sorts of licenses are needed for any venue where there is (a) music and (b) public so they can cover everything from a festival or stadium down to a hairdresser salon or bungee jump operator. (Yes, I have actually received royalities from a bungee jump venue in New Zealand)
 

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Absolutely, no misunderstanding there, I just wanted a clarification on your semantics 'the music performance license' (public entities/infrastructure).

Because to us on this side of the Pond, that implies the municipal license which allows a venue to have live performances...as opposed to the 'licenses issued by collection agencies' (private entities).

That's all.

So my question for the Forum still stands, then: I have my Cafe. I want to be a good boy and comply and be covered. To secure a 'license issued by collection agencies', how much would this cost me, and how straightforward is the process ?

 

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Try downloading this publication: https://www.soundtrackyourbrand.com...MInu2YyYPA3QIVVLnACh2wRgYVEAAYASAAEgKhzfD_BwE

I know that ASCAP has become more aggressive during the last twenty years. It took ASCAP a very long time to take action in New Orleans when I worked there because there was another organization doing its own enforcement of music performance and of the use of jukeboxes.

Where I live now, several years ago, a restaurant/night club was shut down for failure to pay fees and royalties associated with featuring live music. I don't think the place was shut down by ASCAP. The owners chose to file bankruptcy.

I agree with Pete Thomas and others who say that paying for proper licenses and associated fees is just part of the cost of doing business.

As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong), the Creative Commons license covers only material created by composers who want to share their music through the public performance of others. It won't get around Led Zeppelin's publishers' demand for a cut of a cover band's proceeds. One way around having to pay royalties and such is to hire bands that perform their own material and aren't under contract to a third party such as a publisher or a record company.
 

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I may have missed it in this thread's discussions, but I want to clarify something, just to be clear in non-legal-speak . . .

Many U.S. cities/counties have local laws about entertainment in public businesses. In the City of Los Angeles, they issue what are called "cafe entertainment permits", issued and enforced by the city's Police Commission (meaning LAPD is the enforcer and the Police Commission is the issuing and ruling authority). It is a way to control vice and other anti-social conduct that invariably leads to crime.

There are certain rules associated with a business's conduct if they are providing entertainment. If there is a violation of the rules, then the Police Commission may impose penalties including revocation of the permit. These permits have nothing to do with artists' copyrights or the right to receive payment for the performance of the artists' works. The permit to operate a business that provides entertainment and the artists' compensation are two separate issues.

The role of ASCAP and BMI in protecting members' copyrights is much like the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) or the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) role in protecting the film or music-industry's copyrights.

The major film studios use contracting businesses to license/permit public performances of their films. One who wishes to show a feature film in a commercial setting must buy a license to do so. Same with protected music being played, say in a barber-shop to attract customers.

All of those situations where a copyright owner has a right to collect payment for their work being performed are often investigated by licensed private investigators hired by the various trade-groups (MPAA, RIAA, ASCAP, etc.). After it is proved that a violation of licensing agreements or copyrights has happened, then it is up to the trade-group, as representatives of the copyright holder, to bring enforcement action in whatever legal venue is appropriate (a complicated subject of its own). Often a cease-and-desist letter from the trade group is sufficient.

Years ago, I led a trad-jazz band that played old-tyme jazz in a pizza parlor every week. While our tunes were OLD, some were still protected (of which I had no idea). I was an LAPD officer then but really had no knowledge of these issues. The restaurant was confronted by ASCAP and the owners decided to pay the ASCAP fee rather than contest the demands. I don't know what it cost them but apparently it was worth it - we drew quite a crowd every time we played. DAVE
 

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I expressed my idea incorrectly when I referred to ASCAP demanding a cut of the band's proceeds. It is true that ASCAP will collect from the venue owner, not the band.
 
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