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OT- BMI files suit against restaurant


EscapeRocks

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It's not up to the restaurant owner to make that decision. The restaurant obviously feels that having music in the establishment brings in business, or else they wouldn't bother. Why should they be able to reap the benefits of having music in the restaurant, but be unwilling to pay the people who created the music?

 

Sigh.

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It's not up to the restaurant owner to make that decision. The restaurant obviously feels that having music in the establishment brings in business, or else they wouldn't bother. Why should they be able to reap the benefits of having music in the restaurant, but be unwilling to pay the people who created the music?

 

Sigh.

 

While in principle I agree, Jeff, what BMI is doing with these lawsuits is a shakedown.

 

They charge the restaurant based on their capacity, not frequency of events, not actual headcount, not actual amount of expected performances, not even actual # of BMI-published songs.

 

I understand why he's resistant.

 

Is he right? Well... not so sure...

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I can't comment on US law but here in the EU, the responsibility falls absolutely on the venues.

 

I imagine the reason BMI charges based on capacity is because the other two criteria Griffinator suggests would be almost impossible to monitor and police.

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He may have a good case of defense - all DJs/Karaoke operators are required to retain a license through the county, and radio broadcasts in their establishment is already licensed.

 

The owner has had a run-in with BMI in the past over an unlicensed performances for charity. When he threatened to bring in credible witnesses to court, BMI dropped the case.

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He may have a good case of defense - all DJs/Karaoke operators are required to retain a license through the county, and radio broadcasts in their establishment is already licensed.

 

How will this affect bands or solo acts?

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He may have a good case of defense - all DJs/Karaoke operators are required to retain a license through the county, and radio broadcasts in their establishment is already licensed.

 

The owner has had a run-in with BMI in the past over an unlicensed performances for charity. When he threatened to bring in credible witnesses to court, BMI dropped the case.

 

I'm sure that the license for DJs/Karoake is strictly a Business license, and has nothing to do with ASCAP/BMI. And Radio broadcasts are a completely different entity.

 

There's one word that makes the owner's previous run-in different - Charity.

 

If he's using the music to improve his business, then he needs to be licensed. What's next with this guy? He's going to cancel his business license and say that the wait staff are the ones that have to have one?

 

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It's part of the cost of doing business if you run any kind of venue that uses music of artists who are part of a performing rights organization (ASCAP and BMI).

 

Like Mr. Nightime mentions above, the owner has other expenses related to his business that he presumably pays. He pays a liquor license to serve alcohol, and that isn't viewed as a shakedown. Why is it a shakedown when music is being played or performed that encourages people to spend money at the establishment?

 

I really do understand why this is a touchy topic, and I am not (at the moment) a BMI or ASCAP member. But I have friends who try and make at least a portion of their living as songwriters, and having an organization out there to protect their creative efforts from being used to make money for others (while receiving no compensation themselves) is a good thing for them.

 

I also think that the methods these organization use (venue capacity as rated by the fire marshall) is misleading, but I can't seem to easily come up with a better model.

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Better model = flat rate that doesn't put the squeeze on the bar.

 

But how is a flat rate fair? If you're a huge restaurant that serves 800 people a day, why should a tiny bar that serves 20 pay the same rate?

 

Maybe you mean some other kind of flat fee. What would you base it on?

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I believe where BMI runs into trouble is trying to explain to a restaurant or club owner how they arrived at a dollar figure for running entertainment, and then explaining to songwriters why they don't get any money. I have no problem with royalties being collected and paid to songwriters, but I do have a problem with BMI's methods.

 

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$2800/yr by ASCAP for a frickin' jukebox.

 

Are there any songs that you've written on that jukebox?

Also, how much money per year was that jukebox bringing in for the establishment...
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BMI and ASCAP reps have lots of power to negotiate the fees for each venue. What I've heard on forums is that many will be happy to listen to typical occupancy arguments and negotiate, while others count chairs in the WHOLE venue (regardless of whether they are anywhere near the stage or likely to be hearing it) and won't budge.

 

In any case, the venue owner simply doesn't have his facts straight, and doesn't understand the huge difference between having a karaoke license from the county (my god, why does any county need THAT?) and paying royalties. The two are totally unrelated.

 

He may have a good theoretical argument that it should be the acts paying the royatlies, not the venues, but it goes against practice everywhere in the US for many decades, so he has an uphill battle on that front.

 

Practically speaking, it's a lot easier for BMI/ASCAP to police venues than to police performers. So, it's understandable if courts have sided with them on this.

 

We all do agree that royalties should be paid, right?

 

I think that karaoke should get a reduced rate, but that's just my humble opinion, which ain't worth much! I also think it's a shame when PROs make small coffee houses stop having amateur sing-alongs or whatever. It's up to the local reps to make these judgement calls.

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The situation with jukeboxes in Australia is crazy, and I believe the situation is similar in the US. A lot of jukeboxes in smaller venues would be lucky to collect $2800 a year.

 

-The average cost of a jukebox (without any music) is $5000.

-Maintenance is at least $300 per year. Often more.

-Music licenses cost about $3 to $4 per song.

-The jukebox operator has to pay a yearly license for each machine.

-The venue has to pay a yearly license for each machine.

 

The organizations policing this and the record companies take a very large cut of the license fees. The actual artists, who should be seeing most of the money, get the smallest cut.

 

I think the whole current music copyright system is not fair to musicians and writers. Too many big businesses have inserted themselves in the chain to take a cut.

 

My hope is that a new model will emerge where musicians regain control of their music. The internet should help. It seems to be working for some musicians.

 

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The organizations policing this and the record companies take a very large cut of the license fees. The actual artists, who should be seeing most of the money, get the smallest cut.

 

The artists (you, me, Mariah Carey, whoever) need to have the foresight to be aware of this stuff when negotiating their deals with labels. Like you say, now that many artists are functioning as their own labels, it might not be an issue in the future.

 

But it's not BMI's fault that the artist isn't getting the pay they deserve from the label, nor does it absolve the venue owners from responsibly paying for the music they're using to attract customers to their business.

 

By the way: there are actually venues out there that refuse to pay the performing rights organizations, and then do the right thing by not allowing any BMI or ASCAP music to be performed or played at their venues. Granted, it limits the repertoire slightly... :D

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karaoke license from the county (my god, why does any county need THAT?)
I think it's obvious. We want to limit the number of karaoke places!

 

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$2800/yr by ASCAP for a frickin' jukebox.

 

Are there any songs that you've written on that jukebox?

Also, how much money per year was that jukebox bringing in for the establishment...

 

Considering the establishment had a maximum capacity of <50 people per the fire code, not enough...

Less than $8 in the jukebox a day is all it takes to cover the licensing.
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In theory, I agree with ASCAP/BMI that venues should pay royalties for playing their music.

 

In practice, on the other hand, I find it hard to. Their ultra-strict policies and punishments seem excessive, and only a fraction of what they collect actually gets to the artists.

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The problem in this system is there is no pressure for BMI to be efficient in collection methods. It is a model where the higher the cost to collect, the bigger the cut they can negotiate. I doubt the labels care how much go to the writers as long as they can negotiate a good amount for themselves.
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$2800/yr by ASCAP for a frickin' jukebox.

 

Are there any songs that you've written on that jukebox?

Also, how much money per year was that jukebox bringing in for the establishment...

 

Considering the establishment had a maximum capacity of <50 people per the fire code, not enough...

Less than $8 in the jukebox a day is all it takes to cover the licensing.

 

Just the licensing. Never mind the maintenance on the bloody jukebox itself, and then there's that part about trying to actually make a profit...

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I doubt the labels care how much go to the writers as long as they can negotiate a good amount for themselves.

 

BMI & ASCAP do not collect money for labels. They collect for songwriters.

 

 

 

$2800/yr by ASCAP for a frickin' jukebox.

 

 

Are there any songs that you've written on that jukebox?

 

 

I wish. rolleyes

 

Perhaps you'll feel differently when someone is making money with your songs and not giving you any.

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PROs were established to insure that folks get paid for their music i.e. songwriters, composers, musicians, etc.

 

I believe that covers everybody on this forum.

 

Of course, the PROs are not perfect. Neither are insurance companies and other big businesses mired in bureaucracy.

 

Folks can complain but the key to getting paid as a PRO member comes down having your music displayed in a very public way and staying on top it.

 

The annual cost associated with a jukebox is still cheaper than bringing any ONE of the featured acts into the venue. :cool:

PD

 

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The annual cost associated with a jukebox is still cheaper than bringing any ONE of the featured acts into the venue. :cool:

 

That's a red herring if ever I saw one.

 

People pay $0.50 to listen to that featured act on a jukebox.

 

People pay $200 to go see them at a live concert.

In both cases, people are paying a fraction of what it costs to hire the featured act.

 

With the jukebox, the establishment is paying a fraction of the cost to hire all of the featured acts in it. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Folks, I've had this same discussion more times than I can possibly say. And it's not like one side is wrong and the other is right. I completely realize how venue owners wouldn't understand why this music shouldn't be free to broadcast and bring in customers. They do not have an understanding that behind the shiny plastic disc is a lot of hard work.

 

As musicians and songwriters, all I can say is that you must be a masochist if you side against the PROs. They really are there to try and help you, while anyone who's negotiated live performance fees with a venue owner knows that they are trying to get their entertainment as cheaply as possibly.

 

Hey, it's business. What would you expect them to do? However, it doesn't mean that you have to say, "Oh yes, you should definitely screw me by not paying me what I'm worth! Here, let me bend over. So glad my music brought in those extra 20 people tonight, who ordered food and drinks and helped you be profitable."

 

Without the PROs, there's no one at all to help songwriters get paid for their work in these situations. So, what's the alternative? Bend over and take it?

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