Congress Wants To Hear Your Songs And Stories To Help Fix The Copyright Law

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“If we’re going to preserve America’s ability to create and export the world’s greatest music, we have to modernize the music licensing system in a way that allows songwriters and artists to thrive alongside the businesses that revolve around our music.” – Paul Williams, President of ASCAP

This past Friday at the ASCAP Expo at the Loews Hollywood Hotel, Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) sat alongside ASCAP President (and “Rainbow Connection” songwriter) Paul Williams and ASCAP’s Executive Vice President / General Counsel, Elizabeth Matthews, and discussed how they are working to change the current copyright law so songwriters are properly compensated for their work.

Marino mentioned in his opening remarks to the room full of songwriters and producers, “most Americans don’t realize how little compensation you get… we’re going to change that in Washington,” to much applause. He mentioned how much of an impact a group of singer/songwriters from his district had on him when they met for a long lunch, shared their songs and stories, gave him their CDs and revealed how difficult it is to make a living as a songwriter. And, most importantly, how the US Copyright law, as it stands today, has not kept up with technology or society.

“Most Americans don’t realize how little compensation you get… we’re going to change that in Washington,” – US Representative Tom Marino

Marino is the vice chair of the House Judiciary Sub Committee on Intellectual Property and the Internet, serving alongside Congresswoman Chu. These two have a direct role in writing the copyright laws that directly affect songwriter’s royalty rates.

Let’s step back.

Many people don’t understand copyright law as it is today, let alone what ASCAP (along with BMI, SESAC, NMPA and The Recording Academy), is trying to get Congress to change.

Composition vs. Sound Recording

Every song holds two copyrights: one for the composition (the song – controlled by the songwriter or publisher) and one for the sound recording (the actual master recording, controlled by the record label or the artist). ASCAP represents songwriters and publishers and therefore is fighting for an update on the copyright that affects the composition.

What ASCAP does, specifically, is license its catalog to outlets for the right to “publicly perform” the songs ASCAP represents. Outlets range from AM/FM radio stations to TV stations to music venues to department stores to coffee shops to internet radio stations and streaming services (like Pandora, Spotify and YouTube – more on them later). ASCAP then monitors these outlets, collects money from the licenses, strips off overhead (ASCAP is a non-profit and has the lowest operating costs of any Performing Rights Organization (PRO) in the world), and then pays this money out to songwriters and publishers based on how often their songs had been publicly performed on the various outlets.

ASCAP Consent Decree

In 1941, ASCAP entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice because there was not much competition for ASCAP at the time and the Department of Justice wanted to make sure it was a level playing field. This consent decree laid out all the rules and regulations in which ASCAP can operate. (BMI – the other non-profit PRO in America has its own, separate consent decree with the Department of Justice).

But now, there’s lots of competition and the law has remained the same. ASCAP VP Elizabeth Matthews said, “Another thing that has changed, is the nature of our licensees. Back in the 40s the vast majority of our licensees were mom and pop small businesses. Today, they are multi-billion dollar, publicly traded corporations. They are all lawyered up. We’re talking about the Comcasts of the world. Disney, ABC, NBC, Google. They can take care of themselves.” She continued, “We believe… these consent decrees… are not working anymore. They don’t reflect the realities of how content gets distributed, how music gets consumed and it’s creating a problem throughout the entire music ecosystem.”

Under this consent decree, the moment someone requests a license from ASCAP, ASCAP must say yes. Before they can negotiate price.

Matthews used the analogy: “[It’s like] if you wanted to buy a house and you couldn’t come to an agreement on the price of the house, you could still move in and redecorate and they can’t kick you out.”

And during negotiations, if the licensee doesn’t like the rate that ASCAP sets, they can take ASCAP to ‘rate court.’ This is what happened with Pandora.

Rate Court Dispute with Pandora

Under this decree (set in 1941 and inked in Section 114 of the US Copyright Act), there is one judge, appointed for life, who decides every ASCAP rate dispute. One person who decides the fate of 500,000 songwriters, composers and publishers and 8.5 million songs.

Matthews explained, “back in the Fall of 2012, Pandora dragged us into rate court…by our hair, kicking and screaming. We don’t want to be in rate court… It’s expensive. It’s time consuming. It’s distracting… We don’t want to fight with our customers.”

Pandora claimed it was paying out too much performance royalties. The performance royalties being paid out for the sound recording (not the song – remember that term? See above) are 14 times more than what is paid out for the song. But the way the law is written, ASCAP is unable to cite these examples in rate court to attempt to negotiate a better rate – per section 114 of the US Copyright Act.

Currently Pandora pays songwriters about 8 cents for every 1000 streams.

Well, the judge came to a decision. Pandora didn’t get the rate they asked for, but neither did ASCAP.

“You are not being paid a fair rate. And while that is bad news, in some ways it’s good news because we hope that it serves as a wake up call. You have got to start to stand up for your rights. And you’ve got to get involved.” – Elizabeth Matthews, Executive VP, General Counsel, ASCAP


Songwriter Equity Act

There is finally a bill in Congress to right these wrongs. To fix a broken royalty system setup long before the internet was just a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye.

Marino speculated that they could have a piece of legislation before the end the year. He said that the Judiciary committee is about 1/3 of the way through the evaluation process.

The Songwriter Equity Act (HR 4070) which was introduced by Congressman Doug Collins (R – GA) on February 25th, 2014, updates Section 114 and 115 of the US Copyright Act that have prevented modern songwriters from collecting fair market royalty rates for their work.

A Section 114 update would allow the Rate Court judge to consider other royalty rates (like the current sound recording rate) when hearing cases about what is a fair rate for performance royalties. And a Section 115 update would allow the Copyright Royalty Board to increase the mechanical royalty rate for both streams and sales.

It’s worth noting that ASCAP will not gain from an update of Section 115, as ASCAP does not collect mechanical royalties. However, ASCAP is fighting on behalf of songwriters and publishers and this will benefit them.

There is currently no Senate version of this bill and no Senator has offered to sponsor one, but ASCAP’s President, Paul Williams said “We’re discussing it.”

Performance vs. Mechanical Royalties

Performance royalties are paid out by Performing Rights Organizations (PROs), like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in the US, SOCAN in Canada, and others worldwide. These royalties come from the ‘public performance’ of a song – like on the radio (internet, satellite or AM/FM), TV, anywhere streamed on the internet, coffee shops, and basically anywhere that plays music (live or recorded), must get a license from a PRO to legally ‘publicly perform’ this music.

Mechanical royalties come from the reproduction of the song. Like when it’s downloaded on iTunes, sold on a CD or streamed on Spotify. The current rate for mechanical royalties is 9.1 cents per reproduction (like a download or CD sale), and the rate becomes much more complicated for streams. This rate started at 2 cents in 1909 when it was created and has increased so minimally because of the current law which does not take into account current market value.

Get Involved

Both Congressman Marino and Congresswoman Chu said the best way to urge members of Congress into supporting this Act is to visit them at their offices – both in DC and at home in their districts.

“You may wonder whether you writing a letter or you talking to your member of Congress can make a difference. And I’m here to tell you that it can make a difference.” – US Representative Judy Chu

If you are a songwriter and want higher royalties (both performance and mechanical) when your songs are streamed on Pandora, YouTube, Sirius/XM, Spotify, Beats, downloaded on iTunes or covered by other artists, you can help.

You can sign your name to a pre-written letter (or alter it to your liking) here and ASCAP will get it sent to your representative.

If you want to go a step further and really help change the course of music history, you can get a group of songwriters together and visit your representative (with your guitars and CDs) when he or she is back in your district or the next time you tour through DC!

Let your Congress member’s office know that you’d like to talk about the Songwriter Equity Act and play some songs for them. This takes a bit more more effort, but it will be a story you can tell your grandchildren.

Make sure to get some talking points from ASCAP and bring your royalty statements along with.

Document your experience and send in your photos, videos and letters to Digital Music News and we’ll share them.

You can signup to be informed about ASCAP’s music advocacy efforts here.

“What’s going to happen in the next year or two is going to set the course of our industry for decades to follow” – Elizabeth Matthews, Executive VP, General Counsel, ASCAP

45 Responses

  1. George

    Wow, that man has balls. I really hope that his security is good and that he doesn’t have an “accident” before he manages to do something against the mafia of Googleplex.

  2. George

    Wow, that man is bold. I really hope that his security is good and that he doesn’t have an “accident” before he manages to do something against the mafia of Googleplex.

  3. Anonymous

    “If you are a songwriter and want higher royalties (both performance and mechanical) when your songs are streamed on Pandora, YouTube, Sirius/XM, Spotify, Beats, downloaded on iTunes or covered by other artists, you can help.

    You can sign your name to a pre-written letter (or alter it to your liking) here and ASCAP will get it sent to your representative.”

    Thanks, great initiative!

    • MiMi

      And what about SESAC? This doesn’t apply to them?

  4. Music fan

    Awesome news. I’m optimistic! Fuck Google, these cats are gettin’ it done!

    • TuneHUnter

      Let’s just change “fair use doctrine” to prevent fashionable industrial nerds like Shazam or The EchoNest to play with someone’s private property for no apparent benefit to themselves or the owners/creators.

      Discovery Moment Monetization can and will bring 100 billion dollar industry by 2020.

  5. Bob

    Music Operators of America (MOA) then Amusement Operators of America (AMOA) fought ASCAP for many many years over a 4.00 per Juke Box License. Brought in the Stars and Big Big Bucks. Note: at the time there was a .02 royalty per side of a 45 rpm record. Not to mention that the Juke Box is what promoted the artist..some small some large names.

    We were finally forced into the 4.00 fee we had agreed to many many years ago. The kicker was the right to review. That 4.00 went to as high as 350 or there about per Juke Box. Through negotiation it is down somewhat not. Personally I do not feel the pain they are suffering.

    Sure they deserve a fair shake.but wah wah wah it is never enough.

    • TuneHunter

      Income should come from natural market monetization.

      Actual income generated by specific content should be divided between creators and distribution participants. Congress forcing Pandora o Juke Box operator to pay specific amounts is a pure communism.

      Regulations should be minimal and provide just productive environment.

      Media, specifically digital media, needs just new “fair use act” so irresponsible and carless entities will be prevented from trespassing, using and abusing someones property with little or no monetization intentions.

  6. jw


    I agree that this is a huge issue & that what’s decided in the coming months & years will, indeed, dictate how things evolve for years to come. I also know that you don’t often participate in the comments, but I’d like to get your thoughts on some counterpoints.

    1. Currently, the streaming community is made up of active music purchasers. But the goal of streaming is to replace radio & ownership, monetizing casual music fans. If we’re setting the precedent that thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands of songwriters must be able to make “fair” wages off of a proportionately very small number of early adopters, what does this mean as streaming sites begin to scale? If we, rather than considering scale and working backwards, lock in rates with short-term interest in mind, is that not done to the detriment of the longterm health of the industry, as all music consumption inevitably heads towards “the cloud?” If we understand that migration to be an inevitability, does that not radically change the context here?

    2. Should a company Pandora be paying out more than 70% of revenue to rights holders? What is fair? 80%? 85%? 90%? Does additional strain on the company, again, deter growth? (We’ve all witnessed that this evolution towards streaming is a very expensive endeavor.) And if 70% is indeed fair, should the recording royalty drop to compensate for a higher songwriter royalty? And if that’s the case, would it not undermine the rate negotiated by the recording owners?

    • FarePlay

      “But the goal of streaming is to replace radio & ownership, monetizing casual music fans.”

      This may be the pitch to investors, but it does not reflect the views of artists or their audience. These kind of statements demonstrate a lack of understanding on the part of the author to the realities of the music business from the side of the creator and the fan. Let’s be honest here, streaming is struggling because people aren’t interested in paying for it.

      “If we’re setting the precedent that thousands if not tens or hundreds of thousands of songwriters must be able to make “fair” wages off of a proportionately very small number of early adopters, what does this mean as streaming sites begin to scale?”

      No JW, we are not talking about MUSIC socialism here, we are NOT talking about supporting HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of musicians and songwriters just because they make music, we are talking about talented, mid-level artists whose work merits equitable compensation. Compensation that cannot be achieved with meager airplay pay outs.

      “Should a company Pandora be paying out more than 70% of revenue to rights holders? What is fair? 80%? 85%? 90%? Does additional strain on the company, again, deter growth? (We’ve all witnessed that this evolution towards streaming is a very expensive endeavor.)”

      Excuse my callousness, but frankly many are far more concerned about the future of music than the future of Pandora. These companies entered the business with business plans that were highly flawed; it is not the responsibility of the individual artist to take the hit to make them profitable.

      A world without streaming music is really not a problem. A world without music is.

      • jw

        You honest to god believe that running Pandora & Spotify out of business is the way to go, don’t you?


        You’re blinded by emotion. You can’t see the forest for the trees. You’re not making any attempt to see the wants & needs of all parties involved, & so you’re incapable of recognizing a fair or even workable solution to the problems that exist. You’re conflating piracy with technology, you’re fearing what you do not understand. Yes, there are investors complicating the issue on the technology side, & there are labels complicating the issue on the content side. But make no mistake, the investors are there first & foremost because of the labels. And then there’s the wants & needs of the music fan, which you also seem completely out of touch with…

        You can point your heartstring tugging little anti-technology rants somewhere else, I’m not interested. Debating with you isn’t productive. You’ve got blinders on, & you’re just trying to justify your own preconceptions.

        • FarePlay

          JW… Where you always lose it and why I think your comments are disingenuous. So let’s cut the crap. My problem with your philosophy is an overstated desire to eliminate all forms of music consumption, but yours. And for those who don’t agree with you? Contempt.

          Go to any club, any night. There are bands playing and selling CDs, a far greater fan building tool than selling a t-shirt. So spare me the heartstring bullshit, this is about business.

          • jw

            I bought 40 LPs on Record Store Day. I bought 2 CDs over the weekend… a couple of Wallflowers albums that never came out on vinyl. Actually in the past month or so I’ve bought those two Wallflowers discs, Sheryl Crow’s self-titled (one of my all-time favorite records… this needs to be issued on vinyl), the Defibulators’ last two CDs, the Whiskey Gentry’s new live CD, & Aaron Lee Tasjan’s Crooked River Burning CD.

            Clearly you have no idea how I consume music, or what my philosophies are. That’s because you’re blinded by emotion… you have blinders on. Every interaction I’ve ever had with you, you simply hear what you want to hear, & you simply push the agenda you had from the start. You’re missing everything that’s going on around you because you have a singular purpose, which is to artificially prolong the life of legacy formats.

            The difference between me & you is that you are an idealist who thinks that the consumer should be subject to whatever is best for the artist. (And to some degree that is noble. I’ll give you that.) You’re also old & resistant to change. I’m a realist, & I think that consumer behavior needs to be observed, predicted where possible, & monetized. And that the most money is made when the industry’s offering matches the consumer’s expectation. I think resisting trends in consumer behavior is futile… we have nearly a decade & a half of data that proves this beyond any shadow of a doubt. That you still believe that consumer behavior can be controlled just shows how stuck in this singular mode of thought you are. Plainly & simply, you’re out of touch with the modern consumer, & indeed, reality at large.

            I don’t have an emotional attachment to my ideas about the music industry, & I’m open to changing them based on facts. But you are steeped in emotion, & steadfast in your beliefs in spite of the facts. I don’t have a problem with CDs. You’re imaging that. And this is thing, man. This it the thing. You should listen close to this one. No one has a personal problem with any music format. Like… who would? Who wakes up in the morning & says, “I won’t stop until all CDs are piled on top of one another in one giant, shiny landfill!” or “I will rid every last hard drive of every last mp3 if it’s the last thing I do! Streaming will reign supreme!” No one thinks like that. You have to stop thinking that way. I don’t have a stated, nevermind an overstated desire to do away with any mode of music consumption. I’m simply saying that the industry needs to get behind the formats of the future, & stop trying to prolong the artificially prolong the life of the formats of the past. Sell CDs. Sell digital downloads. Sell cassette tapes, for all I care. But don’t do it at the expense of streaming.

            Now what I do have a problem with, and where I may get emotional, is 15 years of the music industry’s contentious relationship with technology. Why? Because ultimately it hurts consumers & it hurts artists. And you have internalized this backwards thinking. I don’t think you’re any different than Doug Morris, who flatly admitted how clueless he was, comparing figuring out technology to being asked to perform surgery on his dog to remove its kidney. That’s kind of how I see you, a clueless old man, stuck in his ways, with no real connection to the modern consumer, or any understanding of his or her mindset or how to monetize that. You might’ve had your good old days, but our good old days are still to come, & ours will be radically different than yours.

            And I don’t say that to be mean or to be particularly contentious, I’m just saying you don’t understand me, you don’t understand the modern consumer, you don’t understand the problems or the potential solutions. And you have no desire to understand any of that. And it just is what it is, but that makes it pointless to debate any issues with you. So I’m trying to explain why I don’t care to correspond with you… in hopes that you & people like you who read this will change & be open to new ideas, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Chances are that if you’re still this stubborn in 2014, you will be this stubborn forever.


          • FarePlay

            “But the goal of streaming is to replace radio & ownership……”

            Dude you can’t have it both ways.

          • jw

            Sure, as a natural, healthy format evolution. Not to spite other formats.

            Can you really imagine anyone pulling out a CD in 20 years? Or someone carrying around an mp3 player when everyone else is streaming the entire history of music?

          • Anonymous


            I like you, you have a good heart. But you can’t see that FarePlay is playing you really hard. It is impossible to tell if he is caricature of a dickwad or the real thing (see Poe’s law).

            You say “you can point your heartstring tugging little anti-technology rants somewhere else, I’m not interested”, and you go and post this giant rebuttal. That’s bad man! My opinion is, for people like FarePlay both on the Internet and in real life, you should respond with humor and sarcasm. Make them dig themselves into holes and laugh at the results.

          • jw

            I appreciate the sentiment.

            Fairplay is the real deal… he’s got a web radio show & everything. I know it’s hip to be cynical, but I don’t think that cynicism affects change. I don’t mind being sincere & confrontational, even if it makes me look gullible, because even if Fairplay isn’t going to change his mind, someone else might consider another perspective. Otherwise, what’s the point?

          • Versus

            “…you still believe that consumer behavior can be controlled.”

            Certainly “consumer” behavior can be controlled, just as other human behavior can be controlled. Such control is the role of law.

          • Versus

            ” No one has a personal problem with any music format.”

            Not true. I have problems with several music formats:

            – Most MP3s sound awful, and are too easily pirated
            – Vinyl and CDs have a huge environmental cost, and neither are sonically perfect
            – tape wears out


          • GGG

            If you think CD sales are some substantial revenue at live shows anymore for random bands, I’m guessing you haven’t been to a rock club in about 20 years….

        • Anonymous

          Technology is the devil! Long live the music business!

      • Versus

        “A world without streaming music is really not a problem. A world without music is.”

        Agreed. The streaming tech companies must find a way to be profitable while fairly paying content owners, or they simply should not exist.

    • Ari Herstand

      Jw – you bring up very good points. I think streaming is great for music as a whole. I love Pandora and Spotify’s services. I use both of them. I think Pandora paying out 70% is fair (that’s what iTunes pays out), but paying sound recording royalties 14 times more than songwriter royalties isn’t fair. Is it fair that Dan Wilson makes 1/14 what Adele’s label makes for a spin of “Someone Like You” on Pandora? How are professional songwriters like Dan supposed to make a living like that? He’s not selling t-shirts or concert tickets (for his successful co-writes).

      I think they should be paid out equally. 50/50. 50% of performance royalties to the songwriters and publishers, 50% performance royalties to the master rights holders (label and artist). Keeping the 70% rate as is, sure, labels are going to be making less of the total pot. They’re probably not on board with an update to the law as they control the sound recording (and not the publishing).

      Similarly I don’t think it’s fair that songwriters get paid for terrestrial radio streams and performers do not. Is it fair that Joni Mitchell gets paid every time the Counting Crows “Big Yellow Taxi” is played on the radio and the Counting Crows don’t make anything? No. This needs to be fixed as well.

      The system is very complicated and it needs a major overhaul.

      • jw

        I agree with all of this. But I think when the argument is for some kind of “fair market rate,” it ignores the fact that the labels were negotiating for the performance royalty, & they seem to have had the leverage in the discussions to claim pretty much every available penny. So the sound recording owners got what they understood to be their “fair market rate,” & now the PROs want their “fair market rate,” but Pandora doesn’t have a money printing machine. Any “fair market rates” actually have to be derived from Pandora’s real profits, otherwise they’re fantasy rates. So what the PROs seem to REALLY want, without being willing to actually say it, & actually being more than willing to infer the exact opposite, is that they’d like a 50/50 split of the royalties. They’re trying to make Pandora out to be the enemy to avoid having to say what they really want, which is take some of that cash out of the performer’s pocket & put it into the songwriter’s. And I think that’s fine, but framing it like Pandora is screwing songwriters or has contempt for songwriters or artists is just plainly & simply wrong.

        Because songwriters aren’t necessarily getting ripped off. There is a HUGE misunderstanding of scale within the songwriter community, specifically in regards to a single terrestrial radio being broadcast to potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of people versus a single Pandora play being initiated by & heard by a single listener, & how ad revenue determines the value of a play in each scenario. Pandora pays songwriters 10x what terrestrial radio plays, & pays performers many times more, especially notable considering terrestrial radio pays them $0 (I’m not saying that’s fair, I agree that the terrestrial radio payout to performers needs to change). So when a songwriter’s song gets played on Pandora, they’re getting paid well, & much better than if that user had been listening to the radio. That’s not up for debate. So this argument that Pandora is making it hard for songwriters to survive is total bullshit.

        However, given the revenue that subscriptions & internet advertising is generating, they certainly have an argument that the payout shouldn’t be so lopsided, & that they deserve their share (~35%, rather than ~5%) of the revenue being generated.

        Obviously it’s easier for the PROs to paint Pandora as the evil tech devil, & blame any rate decrease for performers/sound recording owners on Pandora once all of the dust settles. But it’s a real shame that they feel that they have to frame the argument this way because 1) They did nothing wrong, they were simply at the mercy of the labels in the original rate discussions (same as Spotify & everyone else) & 2) The ill-will that this is generated towards Pandora by both songwriters & music fans (and, if they get their way, the performers will go ape shit over a rate cut) means slower progress & less revenue for everyone. It’s also keeping brilliant tech talent who could help to solve very real problems in the industry that NEED to be solved from coming anywhere NEER the music industry. No one worth their salt is willing to touch the music industry with a 10 foot pole, that’s why these absolutely retarded music startups keep getting funded.

        It’s my personal opinion that the very political way that the PROs are going about this campaign is going to do some real, tangible, longterm damage to the music industry.

        Would love to hear your thoughts on all of that.

      • Versus

        “Pandora paying 70% is fair…”

        70% of what? That is the key question.

        iTunes pays 70% of a fixed price, the sale price of the track or album, which is public knowledge. What is the base upon which Pandora calculates the 70%?

      • Brian Lewis

        Ari: Thanks for bringing up in comments that the U.S officially does not pay artist/band/label royalties for radio play, it makes no sense, as the vehicle to any song to sell a million copies is the artist that recorded it, and the radio stations sell a truck load of advertising because of the music whole (writer/band/label). I know most radio station management would prefer not to pay anything for the music they play, if they had a choice about it. But I guess if your label is big enough, you can strong-arm radio stations into paying the artists. Why isn’t that spreading like wildfire?

  7. hippydog

    Quote “Outlets range from AM/FM radio stations to TV stations to music venues to department stores to coffee shops to internet radio stations and streaming services”

    What would be nice is some clarity.. I would especially like to see an actual breakdown of exactly who pays what.. IE: the coffee shops and restaurants VS the Radio VS Streaming..
    My gut feeling is people would be surprised at who and how much the different areas are paying VS profit.

    • DUDE

      That would be great but it would be on the PROs to provide that info, and I really dont foresee them stepping up with it

  8. FarePlay

    Well, well, well. Interesting to see there is so little traction on comments. Perhaps most people here would rather complain, than get anything accomplished.

  9. Sigh

    Man. Right off the bat, we see written

    “Every song holds two copyrights”


    There are two copyrights covering every musical *recording* i.e. the song and the master.

    This bothers me like when I see authors write about the music business when they are really referring to the record business. Not the same. Arrgh!

  10. Harpo

    Only drawback is to the small business owner. He has to pay ASCAP to turn on the radio in his tiny shop. A small restraint owner who barely makes it by, has to pay a fee to play the radio. Pretty soon everyone will have to pay a fee to turn on the radio. Where will it stop? But I do support paying the fee where large size venues create allot of money.

    • Anonymous

      So what. If you enter into a business with a business plan that is flawed, it is not our responsibility to make you profitable.

  11. beginner

    I am relatively new to the whole concept of BMI & ASCAP. It is my understanding that the vast majority of royalties actually make it to very few at the top of the entertainment list. Every artist playing music today, even the big boys and girls, got there by playing cover songs at local bars and eateries across the country. I can guarantee most of those places did not pay a license fee to have talented musicians come in and provide free advertising for the recording artist (same way they got to be recording artists). Music is about stories and energy. Playing homage by acknowledging the original artist before covering the song should not require a payment. If that is the case, recording artists can just sit on their music! Garth Brooks was right when he refused to make his music available for digital distribution. According to him it would kill the music industry and it has! Cover artists and tribute bands keep music alive so people can go buy original recordings and the original recording artists should just be thankful someone cares enough about those accomplishments to play the music live. Those “PRO’ businesses are great for commercial licensing for radio, TV, movies, commercial advertising, etc. What they are now is a NAZI type thug organization trying to shut down live music venues unless they pay outrageous fees. They themselves are killing the industry that supports their very existence! The only way to correct this is to have neutral parties go into a room and look at the pieces of the pie and decide who deserves what. This will never happen because of political loyalties and lobbying. In my opinion, the writers and performers should be the ones getting the royalties. If the writers don’t want to share in the long term, they can deny people asking to re-record the tune! The music can die right along with the writer and then get re-born after the funeral. As for the Labels, they are just filling the role of a banker making absurd profits off the back of aspiring, hard working musicians. Their contract should be very much like a personal loan… pay it back with a specific interest and that is all they are entitled to. Fans expect their payments for songs to go to the band and songwriters when they make a purchase. It’s up to the band and songwriters to pay back their debts and leave the consumers out of it. Radio has advertising to pay their fees for song use and licenses. leave the small venues out of the equation. The small venues is what keeps everything alive but PRO’s want to squeeze them out of existence and line their pockets under the umbrella of protecting the songwriters. Get real!.

    • GGG

      Well…you certainly are a beginner. Research PROs/publishers more, then rethink this post.

    • Ari Herstand

      Any show you play your own songs at you can get paid by your PRO for those public performances. Both BMI and ASCAP have a “live” section on their website where you can input your setlists and get paid for your original music.

      Many independent artists are also making their living on television placements PRO royalties.

  12. Oh really

    So, back when the only b’cast performance fees paid were terrestrial, songwriters/publishers were happy ’cause they got the whole pie. Them master owners got nuttin’ (and still get $0 for terrestrial).

    Now, in the world o’ Internet, the shoe is on the other foot: master owner 14, songwriter/publisher 1.

    Boo hoo!

    • Ari Herstand

      That system was never fair. Everyone acknowledges that. That’s also part of the copyright law that should be changed.

      But it’s 14 to 1 for songwriters on digital platforms and that’s definitely unfair to the songwriters who don’t perform. They deserve an equal cut (just like performers deserve an equal cut of terrestrial radio performance royalties).

  13. Anonymous

    Mr.Paul Williams is the “Best” voice to Speak on this Very Important matter, that will insure the “Future” of the arts, All of them, not just Music,Songwriting Etc,what would this world be with out the Expression and Passion of the arts ?…Paul has been on Both side of this Business. if you are interested in knowing the creative “TRUTH” listen to him. Joseph Nicoletti Consulting-Promotions ,Laguna Beach,california-USA office 949-215-5496 .

  14. Anonymous

    I am a Program Director for a small market radio station in the Midwest. We are local mom and pop station. One of one. After playing music of some type since 1946 and Country music for at least the 40 years I have been alive, just changed to all talk radio and local news weather and sports only. Our royalty rates had went up 1500 percent. I would imagine a lot of small market radio stations will follow suit. This will eventually back fire on ASCAP, BMI and other royalty companies and unfortunately artists and song writers.

  15. MiMi

    Ok, so what about the free download websites. Artist, musicians and the whole music industry is losing a lot of money because of these website. What are they doing about them?