[Dixielandjazz] ASCAP / BMI

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 28 14:13:41 PST 2005

We worked a "Blues" Club once a month for a year and the ASCAP Rep visited
the owner. The owner said, "Hey man, this is a 'BLUES' club. All of our
music is by composers represented by BMI.

Worked like a charm. Of course the owner was black as were 50% of the
patrons. ASCAP, with their checkered past about paying black composers,
chose not to make an issue of it.

We spotted him in the club one night and simply stopped announcing tune
names, except for those written before 1920. Why? Because you cannot
copyright chord changes, only tunes. And the ASCAP guy had no idea of what
tunes we were playing, as we announced them as "An old traditional New
Orleans Jazz Tune." Of course, that will only work for so long if ASCAP
smells a big money settlement.

So announce a "traditional tune", and play what you want. If someone says,
"Say, was that Sweet Georgia Brown?" Answer "No, similar chords, but not the

Steve Barbone

PS. It helps if you know the local Mafia guys in your area. Our bass player,
Ace Tesone, makes suits for some of the good fellas in Philadelphia. We
point that out in each performance, saying he makes "family" clothes and so
we never worry about not getting paid on a gig. We just send Guido around.

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