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We simply do not offer music of any sort.

Simple. Focused. Direct.
If your shop is set up to offer music and it is profitable to do so then pay them, there's no getting around it. They have people looking online, they will call the shop and ask it there is any upcoming music performances. You have to have space and proper offerings to make money on it otherwise it's just a hobby. I look at it like advertising, it has to bring you back something more than 2 hours of cleaning the shop up after. So break down the fee and what you're paying the artist and any printing costs to advertise then if it brings in four times that after COGS then it may be worth doing.
Or another good choice for a business owner is ... how about not illegally playing unlicensed music. If you choose to have music, pay for a service or pay the necessary licensing fees and play what you want.

Business ethics matter.
Just wondered how many of you have dealt with them first hand. John, we actually pay for a Sirius radio business subscription after we were hounded for playing cd's and ipods, so its not so much about ethics. Sirius covers the licensing fees. We only offer music for First Friday Events which are promoted by a non profit group and feature original music along with local art. We do not charge a cover, we are trying to help increase interest in the downtown area.
I just think it's unfortunate that so many young musicians that will never receive a royalty from Ascap, etc..will soon no longer have venues to play in.
After we were threatened with legal action we now tell bands that it must be original music only. Seems to work out fine.
Julie,

if the agencies are just being a$$es, there's not much you can do. Just show them the facts and smile knowing they have wasted their time.


Julie MacDowall said:
Just wondered how many of you have dealt with them first hand. John, we actually pay for a Sirius radio business subscription after we were hounded for playing cd's and ipods, so its not so much about ethics. Sirius covers the licensing fees. We only offer music for First Friday Events which are promoted by a non profit group and feature original music along with local art. We do not charge a cover, we are trying to help increase interest in the downtown area.
I just think it's unfortunate that so many young musicians that will never receive a royalty from Ascap, etc..will soon no longer have venues to play in.
We have and my boss wrote a letter telling them to stop wasting paper by sending letters. She talked to the attorney and he said she was in the clear. She filled the letter with snappy comebacks
Maybe pump an internet radio stream through the shop's speakers? Perhaps an international station like Triple J so as to circumvent whatever laws there are here in the US concerning internet radio??
We no longer offer music of any sort ascap would not let up. We told them it was all orginal music they said and I quote you have to be able to prove that you never play a song from their list. I looked at their list almost imposible to figure out which songs belong to them. This having to prove you are not guilty is un american. They where sending me letters every couple of days and said they where going to sue me for $10,000 and i would have to prove what I was playing. Since I never made any money just a big mess left when they where done just decided that the kids would have to find a garage somewhere to pratice in.Also would have paid the fee if we where actually playing their music I would like to now where their business ethics are.


Kathy Fadorsen said:
We no longer offer music of any sort ascap would not let up. We told them it was all orginal music they said and I quote you have to be able to prove that you never play a song from their list. I looked at their list almost imposible to figure out which songs belong to them. This having to prove you are not guilty is un american. They where sending me letters every couple of days and said they where going to sue me for $10,000 and i would have to prove what I was playing. Since I never made any money just a big mess left when they where done just decided that the kids would have to find a garage somewhere to pratice in.Also would have paid the fee if we where actually playing their music I would like to now where their business ethics are.

Sounds exactly like what happened to us. Despite the fact that we were adhering to the law, they kept sending letters, misrepresenting conversations, and threatening lawsuits. We stopped having events (all original only) and the letters and calls stopped. As a former musician, it killed me to do it, but we couldn't justify paying them and didn't want the aggravation. We're playing FM radio in the shop.

Now we chase kids with guitars off of the patio. Why? The ASCAP guy could send his son over, play a couple of covers without us kicking him out, have witnesses, and we'd be on the hook for $10k per violation. Yes, that is the way it could happen. They have sent plants into places - its despicable but totally legal.

Sad.


Jeff Jaworski said:
Maybe pump an internet radio stream through the shop's speakers? Perhaps an international station like Triple J so as to circumvent whatever laws there are here in the US concerning internet radio??

Nope. The composer must (and should) be compensated for commercial performance of their work in some way. The broadcast exception works only because the composer has been compensated by the broadcaster.

Check your broadcaster carefully. Its murky right now, but internet streams of conventional channels should be ok. Otherwise, unless the site specifically says its ok to play their stuff in retail environment (like Radio Paradise) I'd be very careful.

Lots of other post on this topic covering Sirius/XM, Pandora, etc. Worth a quick search of past discussions for way more info... not to kill this one, just to add more info.
Having bands play original music is not an issue. They own the rights to perform the music. No one's going to hound you over the odd cover either. As far as playing music over the rest of your open hours, how close are you to ascap and bmi offices? They don't really have the resources like they used to a few years ago to track down every business and see if they've paid their dues. The only occasion I've heard of this actually being a problem is where a customer got mean and called ascap and said they were playing music without a license.

Also, I have hours of coffee shop friendly music that I personally own the performance rights to. I'm sure there are other "indie" artists and producers who do as well. And I'm sure you could find people who would just be happy that someone was listening to their music as much as I would. This kind of music doesn't require a license. ASCAP/BMI/SESAC are performing rights organizations who's sole purpose it is to collect moneys owed to artists for the performance of their works. If an artist doesn't use any of these and you get permission from them in writing to use their music, there is not problem. Search myspace, there are all kinds of amazing artists who don't use a performing rights organization. The problem with paying these people is that there is no way for them to track which artists, which songs and how many plays they get in an ipod/cd format. So, the artist never really sees the money from the plays. They have to be able to report what has been played, and how many times it's been played for them to actually see the money. Typically you'll get paid out on commercials, movies purchased, seats filled at movie theaters, radio commercials, radio plays, website usage, etc... They do pay dues to artists which pay out on these blanket licenses, but I've never gotten a check.

It can all get very complicated and having been on both sides of the fence, if you wanna be legit, pay them. if not, just look on craigslist for an ascap/bmi sticker and put it on your door.

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