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Thread: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

  1. #26
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    "Creative people should have the right to be compensated for their products, just like electricians, carpenters, and video-game developers. How those rights are enforced, that's a question that raises a lot of the issues we're discussing."

    Early in my career I designed and built some decontamination equipment for use at a government facility. My company and myself were paid to to the job. It sure would be nice if I continued to get paid every time they used that equipment . . .
    Presumably you were paid a salary by the company you worked for. It doesn't work that way for songwriters, at least not since the days of the Brill Building.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Everyone is out to make a buck the easiest way they can....Paying royalties for recording songs on a CD is also a pain .....
    Oh sure, songwriting is an easy ticket to the big bucks, everyone knows that. Better than an MBA.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

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  2. #27
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    (duplicate)
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://soundcloud.com/j-person

  3. #28

    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    When you don't like the cost of a product, don't buy it. Not sure why when the "product" is the use of a well-known song and they don't like the price, it's OK to steal it without paying. Just don't perform copyrighted material, write your own songs.

    The real problem of course is that very few people want to listen to the heartfelt ballads that some poor anonymous musician writes and performs. A lot more people will listen to him perform well-known covers, most of which happen to be copyrighted. So your choice, play your own stuff for free and nobody will listen or play the good stuff they want to hear...in which case the song owner wants to be paid.

    You don't have to pay to perform songs. You just have to pay to perform songs that somebody else owns and wants to get paid for. So don't pay 'em. Just don't whine because they refuse to give the song to you for free.
    The first man who whistled
    thought he had a wren in his mouth.
    He went around all day
    with his lips puckered,
    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

  4. #29
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Polecat View Post
    ...I don't think anyone here is trying to defend that point of view...one is tempted to believe that ASCAP or GEMA are less interested in protecting the legitimate rights of artists, and more in ensuring that they create sufficient income to further justify their existance; why else are they now interested in small gigs which used not to bother them, and why have they hiked their fees up by such an extent (I'm told, depending on the venue, between 300 and 600%)?...
    1. You did say "I would argue that notwithstanding copyright, a song like Happy Birthday To You, Irving Berlin's Blue Skies, or the Beatles' Yesterday are de facto in the public domain, or are the 'representatives of artists' interests' going to start stopping people on the street and fining them for whistling a pop tune?" If these songs were de facto public-domain material, anyone could record them without obtaining copyright approval. No gets charged for whistling a tune, playing in his rec room, singing for her kids, or leading a family sing-around by the campfire. It's public performance -- admittedly defined very broadly -- that comes under the purview of copyright and licensing laws.

    2. Money collected by ASCAP/BMI (I can't speak for the German equivalent), mainly goes to the participating artists, with the usual "overhead and administration" taken off the top. One receives payment based on the number of times one's copyrighted and licensed material is played. If you write Happy Birthday To You, you (or your heirs, or the firm that purchased the rights to the song) collect royalties a century after the song was composed. If you write Cherish My Teen-Age Angst, or something similar, and no one but you ever sings it and it's never recorded, well, it's not worth the money to license it or be a member of either the musicians' union or a licensing agency.

    3. As I mentioned above, the current economic debacle in the music "industry," with CD's apparently going the way of the dodo (or the LP), and all kinds of music being posted and downloaded without a dime changing hands, means the licensing agencies have incentive to be more aggressive in trying to collect what's legally due them. Flip side of this, is the resulting annoyance and resistance (which you articulately express), and the also-related incentives to stop sponsoring music, producing negative results for the licensing agencies, the venue sponsors, and the musicians themselves.

    Quite a few years ago, some NYCity people put out a fairly amateurish collection of song lyrics and chords called Winds Of the People, with no apparent attempt to obtain clearance or pay fees to composers, licensing agencies, publishers, or anybody else. That original attempt grew into the now-ubiquitous (at least among folkies) Rise Up Singing, which has become a quasi-hymnal at many a sing-around. Traditional, public-domain, and copyrighted songs are mingled, and whatever payment arrangements have been made, aren't clear to me. There's a lively musical scene going on everywhere that seems to be unaffected by threats of legal action or license law enforcement. However, there are also 'way too many cases in which the legal rights of composers and licensees come into confrontation with the desire to provide music to a broad audience, and perhaps make a few buxx in the process.
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  5. #30
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    I know the best way to end up with a million bucks in music writing or performing is to first start out with two million. The artists aren't the ones making all the money. I have no complaint with a person being paid for what they produce. What I don't get is this "in perpetuity" payment to the artist or their heirs (with a healthy "handling fee" by the benevolent ASCAP). Sure, its wrong to rip off someone else's work and either try and pass it off as your own or profit from it. But, what other field of endeavor allows the requirement of a payment multiple times for the same product? I can see the argument that it costs money to keep pressing records or burning/packaging/distributing CD's. But how about a guy in a bar or park or church basement who covers a Dylan tune with his own interpretation on a harp guitar, for which his only reward is the pleasure of sharing music with others. He or the venue he's playing in owes something to someone? Copyright law says yes, but it still doesn't make sense to me.

  6. #31

    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Why is you singing a Dylan song...and paying Dylan for doing so...any different than me recording a Dylan song on a CD...and paying Dylan for that?

    And why does Bob Dylan care whether you are making money or losing money when you perform his song? He just wants to get paid for his song.

    Publishing pays royalties. Acting performances pay royalties. Software pays royalties. Patents pay royalties. Contracting to write software or set up business systems can be arranged to pay royalties. Lots of things pay royalties. Even engineers occasionally receive royalties for innovations they created in manufacturing or design of industrial products (not often, though).

    Once again, nobody has to pay Bob Dylan a cent. You only have to pay if you use his songs. The argument boils down to "I want to perform Dylan songs really, really, really bad but I really, really, really don't want to pay. So he shouldn't make me". Not very convincing.
    The first man who whistled
    thought he had a wren in his mouth.
    He went around all day
    with his lips puckered,
    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

  7. #32

    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Duplicated post, sorry.
    The first man who whistled
    thought he had a wren in his mouth.
    He went around all day
    with his lips puckered,
    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

  8. #33
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    But, what other field of endeavor allows the requirement of a payment multiple times for the same product?
    Are there any recording artists in this forum who wouldn't rather sell 100,000 copies of their CD than 10 copies?

    Seriously, there is an equitable line somewhere, but it's hard to pin down. I don't have a solution, but we all know the stories of songwriters in the old days who took a one-time $50 payment and then lost rights forever to what would become oft-covered blues songs, for example.

    ASCAP and BMI are flawed but necessary evils. No one is gonna take it upon themselves to send me 2 pennies every time they cover a song of mine. (If they did, I could give my 2 cents worth!)
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://soundcloud.com/j-person

  9. #34
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Hutto View Post
    Why is you singing a Dylan song...and paying Dylan for doing so...any different than me recording a Dylan song on a CD...and paying Dylan for that?
    Quite simply, the difference is one of intention. If you record a Dylan song on a CD it is presumably in order to sell it and make a profit. If I sing a Dylan song in a bar and pass a hat around I may make the money to pay my gas mileage and be able to buy a beer, but if I want to make anything approaching money to be taken seriously, I'm doing the wrong thing. There are other reasons for making music in this way. The point of copyright is to stop one person making money by anothers' labour, which is right and good. As jaycat puts it, ASCAP and BMI are flawed but necessary evils, their flaws have become significantly more obvious in the past few years.

    @ allenhopkins: I think you misunderstood my attempt at irony - obviously it is absurd to fine people for whistling a pop tune in a public place, although it could be construed as a "Public performance" - a few years ago it was also possible to play the same songs in a bar without the landlord recieving threatening letters, and had I not had the experience I have had, I would have regarded the problem as something not to be taken too seriously. I am in favour of protecting intellectual property rights, but to do so at the expense of grass-roots culture seems to me a grave mistake that does no-one, least of all the composer, any favours.

  10. #35

    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    They don't make the performer at a bar pay to play. Ascap charges the bar,the bar charges for drinks,drinkers,some of them anyway,come to hear the music. The bar pays(or maybe not) the performer. The music is part of the attraction at the bar and the bar owner profits from it,this is why they have music at bars. If ASCAP or BMI make their fees unreasonable there will be a backlash and it will cost them as more places eliminated music and decide to show football or something on bigscreen TV. My guess is that the fees aren't anymore unreasonable than my taxes,or my electric bill or my medical insurance premiums --ok so maybe they're unreasonable--and the bar owners complain, so what, no one is listening to you if your bills are unreasonable! Some song writers get rich,most don't there has to be some mechanism to get what is due them to them.

    There is a reasonable argument that churches and schools get a pass because there is no profit motive associated with the performance. That gets bent sometimes for sure but it would be hard to prove.

  11. #36
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Do club owners have to pay ASCAP/BMI if they have a juke box playing CD`s that have already given royalties to the writers/publishers of those songs on the CD?

    I am a friend of Gerry Stover, Don`s son, and Gerry every now and then gets a check in the mail from songs that his dad wrote, or claimed to have written, and Don has been dead for quite a few years now....paying royalties to an heir is not helping the writer of the song so something is missing I am afraid....It really don`t bother me because I have never published any of the songs that I have written but have recorded them on CD`s and sold the CD`s, maybe I am missing out on some big money....

    Willie

  12. #37
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Most jukeboxes in bars aren't owned by the bar, they are generally owned by a company that places them there and I would assume the owner of the jukebox would be required to buy a license. The modern machines keep track of what songs are played.

  13. #38
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    A little bird told me that the enforcement of this whole deal is supposedly one of the mafia's legitimate businesses...

  14. #39
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    I'll go out on a limb and say if that was true not many bar owners would be complaining. I spent 20 years in the trucking business in New Jersey, I do know how things work. I have a friend that works for one of the agencies.

  15. #40
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Copyright holders don't get paid "in perpetuity," but it's getting close. Here's what the US Copyright Office (which is part of the Library of Congress) has to say:

    The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code).

    So the heirs of a composer/songwriter get the benefit of copyright protection for 70 years after his/her death. It is possible for the copyright holder to sell or assign the rights to a "work," and music publishing companies have accumulated rights to many "works," which is why someone like Michael Jackson could end up owning publishing rights to most of the Beatles' catalog, which had been purchased by Northern Songs Ltd.

    Is it a "bad" thing that the rights to intellectual property endure past the life of the creator, and that the creator's heirs also benefit? As pointed out several times above, if you perform or record a song written by someone else, you're using that person's intellectual property to benefit yourself, even if it's only tip money for beer. So it would seem, in fairness, that you should get that person's permission, and pay him/her for the right to do it, if the person wants payment.

    Beyond that, there's a dense thicket of details and questions. How much to pay, how to enforce property rights, how to deal with a third person like the licensing agency that's interposed between you and the creator, how to continue to have a thriving "grassroots music" environment and still provide permission and payment where they're due... No one ends up being satisfied, and the growth of the internet and its widespread dissemination of "intellectual property" without permission or payment has made things more complex by a huge factor.

    Stay tuned for more legislation, lawsuits, and passionate advocacy of clashing viewpoints. However, I do have to say that when I start picking a Bill Monroe tune at a jam at times, the question of whether Bill's heirs are going to get the 10 they may have coming, is the farthest from my mind. I just hope I don't blow the break (again).
    Allen Hopkins
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    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
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    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
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  16. #41
    Registered User Peter LaMorte's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Seems all this does is diminish live music. Oh wait, what about all that "original" music. I've heard very little original music, but have heard a lot of great music made by many standing on the shoulders of other great musicians. Just my 2 cents.

  17. #42
    Registered User toddjoles's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Churches are not exempt and must maintain copyright integrity of a higher standard than other venues. My church sometimes pays up to 3 or 4 licensing fees per song per use. For example, 1 fee for the original author, another for the lyrics, another for additional lyrics and another for the arraingement. In the past this had been largely ignored by churches or they used traditional hymns. Today they have realized that they must be accountable like everyone else, it's just the right thing to do.

    I go to one local jam that gets around licensing by being an educational workshop. A 1/2 hour of educational teaching or discussion of jam ettiquette, type of music, and a host of other topics followed by a jam where everyone is welcome no matter what their experience.

    Jams at a restaurant, bar, farmers market and coffee house would be considered entertainment just as a band would be and subject to a licensing fee.
    Todd Joles, handyman and aspiring luthier!

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  18. #43
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    which in turn makes the musicians earn less money from bar owners, which again makes less musicians want to play these venues... it's a vicious circle. I am all for people being paid for what they write but being paid long after you have died? record sales or music downloads sure, but live performance? you'd think the music being played live would just increase the demand for buying/downloading the music or radio air play... that's where the big money is. it's nickle and diming musicians to death because the performing artist is the bottom of the food chain in this respect and have to bear the brunt of the burden.

  19. #44

    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    They did get paid before they died. If a copyright was only good for 10 years it would be worth less than one that last life plus 75 years. So the price a song is sold for reflects its total value...which happens to accrue over life plus 75 years or whatever it is. And if the writer keeps the song in the family, some of that value accrues to his heirs after he is gone. Lots of people consider leaving something for their family to be a worthwhile thing to do.

    I'd suggest once again if you don't care to "make less money" by performing at a place that pays for an ASCAP license then by all means perform songs you write yourself. Just no whining when that makes you less money still because nobody wants to listen.

    It's amazing that someone will use another person's famous song because it makes them more money and then get on their soapbox to decry the fact that it also makes money for the guy who wrote it. If you make money performing a Dylan song, you're not ripping off Dylan. If Dylan gets money when you perform then he's ripping you off. Do I have the logic correct?
    The first man who whistled
    thought he had a wren in his mouth.
    He went around all day
    with his lips puckered,
    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

  20. #45
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    <Message deleted by request of the poster>
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Dec-04-2011 at 5:02pm.

  21. #46

    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    This is a very interesting thread. A lot of the questions and points presented here have been making the rounds for a number of years, but it does seem that the purported demise of CD sales has led ASCAP and BMI to become more vigorous in their pursuit of fees. I think one of the primary complaints of independent and lesser-known artists is that the payment structure to artists is not very accurately based on what music is being played in smaller venues where the fees are collected (clubs, bars, etc.). There is a sense that a disproportionate amount of the money goes to acts that generate significant commercial radio airplay. It would perhaps be galling to a club that features only bluegrass, for example, if most of your fees were going to payments to Lady GaGa and Justin Bieber.

    There is an excellent and very detailed article about this available on guitarist Harvey Reid's website, which may be interesting to some of you: http://www.woodpecker.com/writing/es...-politics.html

  22. #47

    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    David,

    I agree that it's a horribly idiotic system designed around a small subset of musical styles and built around a decades out of date set of assumptions. But that's a far more interesting set of topics than complaining about the fact that any money is involved in the first place.

    I think some people feel if they're not making any money out of performing then the guy who wrote the song shouldn't be making any money either. I'm not a musician but the working musicians I'm acquainted with have said for ever and ever that writing and not performing is where the real money lies.

    ObBigMon: Bill Monroe would had to play a heck of a lot of live shows to make as much money as he did writing that one little song all those years ago.
    The first man who whistled
    thought he had a wren in his mouth.
    He went around all day
    with his lips puckered,
    afraid to swallow.

    --"The First" by Wendell Berry

  23. #48
    Different Text eadg145's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    I read this article a few months ago and found it interesting. I believe I understand both sides of this argument. I think there's a balance to be found here, but I do think that we may be out of balance if the story in the article becomes a trend.
    Think globally, bike locally.

  24. #49
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    Surely venues should pay if they want to benefit from the music? If not then they should not use it to enhance their business.
    What is difficult is that there seem to be three collection agencies so venues seem to need to pay three fees in case their musicians decide to play music from another catalogue.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

  25. #50

    Default Re: NASCAP charging for bluegrass jams!?

    If the music played in live venues were to kept track of in play lists and those play lists were then submitted to the licensing agencies then it would be easier to dole out the money to the proper writers and publishers. With computers and the internet it wouldn't be a very difficult task. I think radio stations actually may do that.
    Many writers don't get much recognition in their life time and some don't live very long but may leave a family behind. The fact that the rights to written music or other works expires at all seems less fair to me than the unfairness that some people feel because it lasts as long as it does. A great of deal money has been generated from Bach's works since the advent of recorded music. A Dickens story or Mark Twain story can make a lot of money for Disney yet the estate of those people can receive nothing. If you had royalties from say an oil well on the family farm and it was still producing after 150 years and the farm was still in the family or even sold to someone else they would receive the royalties. If you write a book or a piece of music and it's still popular in 150 years your heirs loose those rights and anyone can do anything they want with it at that point.

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