[Dixielandjazz] Music Licensing Fees!! - BMI & ASCAP

TCASHWIGG at aol.com TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Fri Mar 26 16:42:47 PST 2004

In a message dated 3/26/04 11:52:17 AM Pacific Standard Time, 
jazzhags at aol.com writes:

>    No such luck, today I received a contract indicating we owe them
> $1241.10 per year, as many of you who are involved in Jazz Societies
> realize, we are a non-profit organization whose only interest is to
> promote and encourage OKOM, not to make money - if we cave in to
> their demands it could very well threaten the existence of our organization.
> (Also there is ASCAP &SESAC which could insist on licensing).
>    Any words of advice?
> Doug Burnley
> Pres - Hot Jazz &Alligator Gumbo Society
> http://riversidejazz.com/hags

Well Doug:

I am sure someone on the list saved all those posts we were bantering around 
about it:

I would make the following suggestion and it should be used by ALL other Jazz 
Societies as well.

Make up a song performance sheet for each band that plays for your 
organization, and have them faithfully fill out the sheet everytime they perform for 

Encourage most of them to play mostly Traditional public domain songs or 
Original arrangements  and interpretations and improvisations of all their other 
songs which might not fall into this legal category.   If they are indeed an 
improvising Jazz band playing head arrangements and not simply sitting up there 
playing fake books or someone else's identifiable charts then they are 
arguably playing their own Original compositions and arrangements.

List the arranger:   

Title of the song:

Author of the original song if they know it:

Now if the band leaders are smart they will make up the pre printed set list 
with the licensing organization for each song listed as well:   I suggest you 
make up three seperate lists and keep them all with you at all gigs:

List # 1 says they are all BMI licensed songs,

List #2: says they are all ASCAP licensed songs

List #3   says they are all SESAC licensed songs.

:)   use the correct list to discourage the appropriate soliciter for money;  

Sorry but we only play ASCAP songs to the BMI Guy et. etc.

Doubtful that any of them will ever take the time to investigate it and come 
after anybody, if they do make them prove they actually own the rights or 
don't pay them.

Give this list to the BMI person and tell them to come back with documented 
proof that they own the licensing rights to each and every one of those songs 
and you will be happy to pay the fee for the individual songs that they can 
prove they own.   

Do the same thing to Ascap and Sesac when they show up, and if you pay 
anything to BMI you can bet they will show up and do the same thing they will and do 
talk to each other in their conspiracy.

Your band leaders will bitch like hell at first but make it a firm policy 
that they fill out the forms or they don't play, they will soon get used to it 
and take care of their part of the business to keep you in business and 
themselves employed.   Soon all the band leaders will show up with a set list of what 
they are going to perfom that wilol take care of the problem.   Makes it more 
difficult to take request, unless of course they circulate a request list to 
the audience to ask for with songs listed that are safe.

If the Bmi person wants to sit there and listent o everysong every time to 
see if they can find a violation so be it, charge them to get in the door first 
and formost.   There is no free lunch, make them pay to get in the door, and 
by all means do not allow any tape recorders or video recorders in the event so 
they can't trap you.

Get one of your good volunteers to take on this task and do it religiously, I 
am certain the BMI folks will not pursue it very far at all, they do not like 
to work for their money, just like to extort it and go play somewhere else 
with it.   They are not going to pay the artist or their heirs either.

Too many people just roll over and play dead for them and they have had it 
too easy for far too long.   They have turned into a Private Taxing organization 
with no one controlling them or regulating them except themselves.

Good Luck

Tom Wiggins   

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