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Cover band online demos?

Unsound Practices

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This may not be the right place to ask this question... but Google has not been my friend on this one. ;)


What is the deal with cover bands posting audio demos online? Are there any simple rules that allow it, or is it a complete no-no?


Any thoughts or links welcome.



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I'd think as long as you are not selling the music you are not in violation of any laws.

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Copyright laws are not dependent upon a commercial application. So, technically speaking, it is not permissible.


That being said, I don't think the big labels are too concerned about it because it doesn't really impact their bottom line (as opposed to downloading music without paying).

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I'm no expert on ASCAP/BMI rules (except that, when you run afoul of them, esp ASCAP) they can be real b*s*a*ds. Basically, if you're responsible for making your demo cover song public (esp with the intent of getting someone to hear it and hire you), you should have a license to cover (either ASCAP or BMI or both -- and now SESAC). But if you have another website host your music - one that you're not legally responsible for - copyright is their problem. We don't have music on our website, but have a link to one that does.


No - ASCAP/BMI/SESAC are probably not going to find you or care. But a friend of mine owned a tiny restaurant - maybe five tables. He had a boombox tuned to a local radio station - and ASCAP came in and "busted" him and sent him a bill for hundreds of dollars. I owned a classical radio station here in Maine - pretty threadbare operation at first. We didn't get BMI or ASCAP licenses, since most classical music is royalty free (Mozart's estate isn't getting any residuals). But we got busted... some ASCAP person spent probably hundreds of hours listening to us, and heard some Gershwin, Shostakovich, Copeland and some others and fined us. We got the message and got blanket licenses from ASCAP/BMI.


Now that I'm more of a performer/writer, I can understand the value of the royalty agencies. What I don't like is that so much of the money goes to the estate's of artists. Why should Gershwin's great grandson get a check for stuff he had nothing to do with... I'd better stop -- I think I've struck a nerve...


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