Should Bars & Restaurants Pay to Use Your Recorded Music?

The Music-Copyright Enforcers – NYTimes.com

LP record

Those who listen vs. Those who pay (Brian Rea)


Most places do, and it directly benefits me. My songs are registered with BMI, and whenever I play them in a public venue, I fill out a form on the BMI website stating when, where, and what songs I performed. Then, twice a year, I receive a royalty check from them – just like Willie Nelson and Lady Gaga.
Now if you bought a CD or downloaded an mp3 for personal use, then you’ve already paid for it – play it however you want. But if you’re a commercial establishment playing recorded music for your customers, it’s kinda like having musicians play all day/night long. You wouldn’t expect a live band to play for free, any more than you should expect a bartender or cook to work for free. And it’s good to know that some of the money paid for licensing goes not only to the superstars, but also to the little guys like me.

One Comment so far:

  1. Well, the most passionate arguments so far are against venues paying licensing fees, although Brian´╗┐ is wiling to accept royalties from radio.

    I agree that music is expression, but once you record and market it, seems to me it then becomes product. Now, you can distribute that product any way you see fit. The Dead gave away plenty of music, but plenty of people still paid for it, and Jerry and the gang still collect licensing fees from radio and PROs. (Look up their catalog on ASCAP & BMI).

    Indie artists like Amanda Palmer are giving away their music, as are some of the big-name folks on occasion.

    Now, since I’ve never been a prolific songwriter/recording artist, I never expect to get royalties like any of the touring artists, but the $900 I collected last year certainly helped my bottom line.

Posted by: John "JT" Thompson on

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