Zoe Keating Tries To Make Sense Of The Performance Royalty System - hypebot

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LaJohn Manoy aka SMooth D.

This is an interesting post because I understand the confusion of it Zoe. I'm an indie artist myself who is looking for extra income streams and live performance royalties has been something I've tried to keep on eye on since I started. I'm a member of BMI as a writer and publisher. What I like about BMI is they have a program called BMI Live that they just started last year where if you write and perform your own material you get performance royalties. I play alot of open mics, showcases and smaller venues but I've consistently saw royalty checks from even these so I know an artist of your status should be able to as well. I think ASCAP should create a program such as the BMI Live one so that even the indie artist can receive royalties from performances where they may never see them from radio performance royalties. Or you could just switch PROs. I've researched a list of revenue streams that most people in the biz didn't even know existed (even major artists and managers). SMH.

Jean Bolger

I am pretty astounded that the venue is passing off it's ASCAP fees to you- I've yet to encounter that one! Pretty cheeky. Next they'll be asking for a percentage of the janitor's wages or the electric bill I guess!
More to the point- in these days of easy information transfer it's crazy that ASCAP hasn't figured something out about making their system work for the vast majority of their members who are not in the Top 200. I initially signed up with BMI because their system for 'concerts and recitals' applies occasionally to what I do. But the new BMI Live feature really is great. You log on, fill in some venue info, click on whatever songs from your catalog you performed that night, and that's it.

Chancius

"ASCAP pays out performing royalties only to the 200 top-grossing concert tours, as determined by Pollstar."

That's utterly ridiculous. They probably got away with it "back in the day", but with more artists actually learning how things work in the music industry and going it alone without an actual label there will eventually be a backfire of a certain level of unfair treatment.

John

Maybe I'm a babe in the woods here, but let me see if I get this straight:

You pay them to pay you,
Venues pay them to pay you,
and you pay the venues to pay them to pay you.

It seems like a combination between a shell game and a perpetual motion machine.

Zoe Keating

The licensing rates in concert halls are calculated by percentage of ticket sales per concert....so it *is* a deduction from the night's revenue, is it not?

I didn't make this up, the rates and how they are calculated are listed in ASCAP's concert licensing agreement which you can find online at:
http://www.ascap.com/~/media/Files/Pdf/licensing/types/CONCERT_BLANKET_WITH_RATE_REPORT.pdf

I also play in bars and clubs, how it works for them is an annual lump sum based on amount of live concerts per week and venue capacity:
http://www.ascap.com/~/media/Files/Pdf/licensing/types/BGT.pdf

In either licensing situation, I don't get by what logic this is NOT a deduction from the night's revenue, but I'd love to hear an explanation.

Zoe Keating

My comment got mangled, so I'll post again:

The licensing rates in concert halls are calculated by percentage of ticket sales per concert....so it *is* a deduction from the night's revenue, is it not?

I didn't make this up, the rates and how they are calculated are listed in ASCAP's concert licensing agreement which you can find online at:
http://bit.ly/GX1RJZ

I also play in bars and clubs, how it works for them is an annual lump sum based on amount of live concerts per week and venue capacity:
http://bit.ly/GX1RJZ

In either licensing situation, I don't get by what logic this is NOT a deduction from the night's revenue, but maybe I'm dim. Explain it to me!

Clyde Smith

Thanks for explaining the BMI Live features. I knew there were some working solutions for this problem.

Clyde Smith

I'm not a lawyer, so I could be very wrong, but it seems like this could be grounds for a class action lawsuit. I think it would be worth investigating.

Brian Hazard

Zoe, you should definitely apply for an ASCAPlus award. Considering that I've gotten one the past couple years, and I don't perform live, the bar must not be too high ;). I've only gotten $100 a pop, but it takes all of 10 minutes to apply.

John Sanders

It's also very strange that the larger the venue, the lower the percentage charged by ASCAP. So a small theatre gets charged 0.8% while an arena or stadium is charged only 1/4 that amount. How regressive.

TonsoTunez

ASCAP has had a solution for over 50 years ... it's called ASCAP Plus...

http://www.ascap.com/Press/2012/0313_ascapplus.aspx

Kerrymuzzey

The ASCAP Awards themselves would never make up for the amount of performing that a touring artist like Zoe Keating does. To apply for the award, you need to list all of your "achievements" for the year, like "scored 2 independent films, both of which played at Sundance and Tribeca, performed 50 live concerts" - that sort of thing. And even with a list of accomplishments like that, you'll be lucky if you hit the $200-250 range for your ASCAP Award. This is one of those instances where that entire ASCAP fee for that night's performance, perhaps less some tiny administration fee, should be paid to the artist who performed their ASCAP-registered and ASCAP-published works at a venue that was paying a performance license fee to ASCAP for that one specific artist that night. Why it *doesn't* work that way, I'll never understand... and why any PRO continues to get away with that sort of thing? I'll also never understand.

Clyde Smith

It's an absurd situation and my mind boggles at the fact that I still encounter apologists for ASCAP who should know better.

Jon

ASCAP has launched ASCAP OnStage, a new addition to ASCAP's public performance survey. ASCAP members have an opportunity to receive royalties when their music is performed live at venues of all sizes throughout the country. Members log their performances for payment in ASCAP's regular distribution: http://www.ascap.com/onstage

Clyde Smith

Thanks for the update!

O.G. Killa

Zoe, you aren't understanding it correctly. In the ASCAP Concert licensing agreement...

Sect 1(b) "...and shale continue thereafter for addtional terms of one year each..."

Section 2(a) "This license is NOT assignable or transferable by operation of law..."

Section 2(b) "This license is strickly limited to the LICENSEE and to the premises wehre each concert is presented..."

Re-read those 10 or 20 times so they sink in.

Next, jump to the fee schedule...

"**"Gross Venue" means all monies recived by the LICENSEE or on LICENSEE's behalf from the sale of tickets for each concert. Gross revenues SHALL NOT include... commissions or fees paid to automated ticket distributors...or other facility fees..."

And then near the bottom:

"Minimum Annual Fee. The minium annual fee payable hereunder shall be $230.00"

OK... so after you've read this a bunch of times... realize that you ARE NOT the licensee, correct? The venue is. So because of Sect 2 (a) and 2 (b), it is illegal for the venue to transfer this license onto you.

That means it is illegal to make you pay for the ASCAP royalties from your ticket sales.

You have to realize when they say GROSS REVENUE, they are talking about the GROSS REVENUE the venue makes after they pay out commissions (like your fee).

Also, here's a scenario for you to contemplate. What if you decided to do an entire set of covers and all the covers are from BMI songwriters? Each venue has to pay an annual fee to ASCAP and BMI for the right to allow ANY SONG from either's catalog to be performed.

This again is another reason why the fee isn't supposed to be charged back to the artist's ticket sales. It comes out of the gross revenue of the concert venue. The fact that they don't charge you for BMI yet you have every right to perform BMI songs in your set as covers shows the problem with their assertion that you have to pay ASCAP since you are ASCAP.

You don't. THEY PAY ASCAP for the right to have you performing there.

So there are several problems here. One is that the venues are ripping you off. Two is that your booking agent is letting them. And three your lawyer isn't calling them out on this.

If you don't have a lawyer, hire one ASAP. And get a good one. Specifically find an entertainment attorney that specializes in artists and copyright. Sometimes entertainment law firms are best since they usually have a separate lawyer for each specialty. So by hiring the firm you get access to a pool of lawyers with different specialties based on your needs. DO NOT just get any old lawyer. The music business is very complex and has a lot of "hidden" or "unspoken" terms and loopholes within its legal jargon. A real estate attorney or a tax attorney isn't going to understand or even know about all of this. Look for lawyers that have a list of successful clients, preferably similar to you and your situation.

Yes the retainer might be expensive. But you get what you pay for. If you spend $2500~$5000 on a lawyer that ends up fighting for you and you end up earning an extra $10,000 to $20,000 that year, was the retainer worth it?

I should also point out that if you are getting screwed on this (paying ascap licenses for the venues) who knows where and how else you are getting screwed. You need a good lawyer to protect your company/business.

maviyan

Nice one, there is actually some great points on this post some of my associates will find this worthwhile, will send them a link, thanks
http://www.surveytool.com/training-survey/

Lucis Starling

ASCAP needs to review this formula ASAP and allow the specific artist to reclaim their share of the performance license at any venue they perform.


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