Copyright license?

  • Participant
    unknown-user on #147078

    Hi, I’m just a student but I wanted the advice of some professionals!

    I have begun playing at restaurants as background music, and most of the pieces I play are 60’s pop songs, that’s I’ve purchased sheet music for. My teacher warned me of copyright laws, and that even if I own sheet music to a song I still don’t have the rights to play it in public? She said the laws change continuously so I should look into it since she wasn’t up to date with them.

    I was curious if anyone out there knows more about this subject, or of any licenses that could protect me? Any advice or links to websites with more information would be greatly appreciated! If I plan to make a living out of performing popular music I need to smart up and know what I’m going into!

    Thank you so much, God bless!

    — Natalie

    Participant
    catherine-rogers on #147079

    It’s my understanding that this is not your problem. It’s the restaurant or other establishment’s responsibility to have a license from BMI, ASCAP and/or SESAC that permits it to provide live or recorded copyrighted music.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #147080

    My teacher did mention something along those lines, but she didn’t have the exact names so thank you very very much!

    — Natalie

    Member
    patricia-jaeger on #147081

    Natalie, The local Musicians’ Union (AFM/CIO)

    Member
    barbara-fackler on #147082

    I got a call from a company a few months ago that addresses this in the contract they used. I could send them my own contract too, but their legal department required that I also sign theirs. They paid their fees to SESAC but they wanted me to play nothing but Big Band era music. I checked online to see what SESAC covered. You can look up individual titles. So few of what the client wanted was covered by their SESAC agreement that I declined the job. There was no way to comply with both requests. They apparently buy their in house recorded music from a supplier who complies with SESAC so they didn’t have a problem until they brought someone else in.

    My understanding has been that if at least one of the collecting agencies was being paid, that everything was covered but the legal department in this case was convinced otherwise. I would have had to submit a playlist verifying that everything I’d play was covered by SESAC and they went as far as to deny anything public domain because it wasn’t specifically covered under SESACs agreement with them.

    Patricia, thank you for this detailed answer.

    I think it’s only going to get stickier. Legal concerns have a lot of companies trying to cover all the bases. I had another place require that we have a $3 million liability coverage on any vehicle brought on their property to deliver the harp and coverage on the harp in the same amount. They were treating all outside contractors the same, so the requirements for the harpist were the same as for a contractor coming in to do construction work.

    Participant
    unknown-user on #147083

    Oh my this is very serious, thank you for the contact! I will definitely be looking into this, I’m only 17 but this seems to be where my jobs are taking me. Have you found that most restaurants are covered?

    — Natalie

    Participant
    unknown-user on #147084

    Thank you for the response!
    This is pretty crazy, I mean music is something very difficult to restrict. It’s like prohibition in the 1920’s, you can ban liquor but people will find a way to get to it… I obviously believe music is much better than alcohol, but there are people who can figure stuff out by ear, create their own arrangements. I don’t think stealing music is right, but also if you can play a song then it can become great publicity for the original composer. That would only work if the performer was honest and declared the song’s original writer I suppose… It’s a very tricky business! I can’t even imagine a $3 million liability!

    Again thanks to everyone who has responded this is helping me a lot! God bless!

    — Natalie

    Member
    kreig-kitts on #147085

    Oh, now harpist are all about the great free publicity…

    Member
    kreig-kitts on #147086

    My last post was a joking reference to the complaints of harpists when others ask them to play for free for the publicity. Of course composers are in a similar boat. One has written a great blog post about it here. Some composers, when asked, give permission for performances of their music, and one I know of even mailed a photocopy of his handwritten charts to a friend who asked to play one of his pieces in her recital, though this likely depends on the nature of the performance (student recital versus paid performance).

    Participant
    unknown-user on #147087

    This article was very helpful, thank you! It’s all so tangled, the copyrights I mean. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand all the rules!

    — Natalie

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #147088

    You need not worry about this. The restaurant/venue should have a license from ASCAP and BMI, each, to have live

    Member
    tony-morosco on #147089

    What Catherine and

    Participant
    unknown-user on #147090

    Thank you for the reply!

    A blanket license? This may sound silly but is this the equivalent of a drivers license, meaning a driver’s license makes it legal to drive so does a blanket license permit you to perform other’s arrangements and compositions? $32.00 is a price I could live with, thank you again!

    Participant
    unknown-user on #147091

    Thank you so much, my teacher got me pretty worried about all of this but I feel much better now. 🙂

    — Natalie

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