ASCAP Sues 10 Music Venues For Not Being Licensed To Play Music

Ascap-new logoASCAP has filed 10 separate legal actions against bars and restaurants nationwide,  alleging the unauthorized public performance of its members’ copyrighted songs. 

Gavel-568417_640Over the past two years or longer, ASCAP has made numerous attempts to offer a license and educate the business owners about their obligations under federal copyright law. Despite these efforts, these owners of the establishments listed below repeatedly have refused to take or renew a license.

"Music is enormously valuable to bars and restaurants, creating an emotional connection with patrons and providing the right ambience to attract and retain customers,” commented ASCAP Executive Vice President of Licensing Vincent Candilora. “Hundreds of thousands of well-run businesses across the nation recognize the importance of paying music creators to use their music, and understand that it is both the lawful and right thing to do. However, each of the establishments sued today has decided to use music without compensating songwriters.

Establishment (City, State):

  • Adrenaline Sports Bar & Grill (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Carmine's La Trattoria (Palm Beach Gardens, FL
  • Dorado Western Club (Houston, TX)
  • The Concert Pub (Houston, TX)
  • Conrad's Seafood Restaurant (Nottingham, MD)
  • Havana Club (Atlanta, GA)
  • Mezzo Ultra Lounge (Providence, RI)
  • Show Palace (Oceanside, CA)
  • Pony (Memphis, TN)
  • Spike's Bar & Billiards (Rosemead, CA)


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  1. These venues might want to negotiate the same per-customer-rate that Disney Parks and Theme Parks generally pay an entire year ASCAP licensed repertoire. That would be $.0069 per customer/year.
    Ten times more is spent by Disney per capita / day on toilet paper than a 24/7/365 cost for music on a $120/day ticket.
    But go ahead, let’s sue these little guys and makem’pay up. #StuckOnStupid

  2. I am a working musician and engineer and deeply value our work and it’s worth (artists need to be protected and paid). I do not, however, agree with the idea that clubs need to pay licensing fees for hosting cover and tribute bands. Since when is it a copyright infringement to play covers in a live setting? This sort of behavior and prosecution could possibly be the last nail in the coffin for live music. I am a member of ASCAP…but shame on them.

  3. Good luck negotiating that rate for a venue that might be fortunate to draw 200 people on a good night, versus whatever numbers Disney attracts. I’ll bet most venues would be happy to pay whatever their toilet paper bill is to ASCAP.

  4. In Italy, the law require the producer (usually the clubs) to pay royalty fees to SIAE (the Italian royalty collector) for ANY live show , no matter which or what. If band plays covers, or originals, is teh same, This money have to be payd to SIAE. The lowest fare for a Live show (free entrance and less than 150 People expected audience is 135 Euro + Tax. (total 160 Euro = 175 US$. ) The effect of it, is that small clubs now offer stage to bands, but without compensation or just for “hospitality” ( means free drinks for the band). Or even worse, clubs simply stopped to host bands and ave played, because all the drink they serve at that night do not pay back their cost.
    Please do not make same mistake in US.
    I understand it is fair that Publishers (and original songwriters and composers) get royalty payed for their songs being covered in music performances, but it should be a low limit, where for mini-shows and beginners Band, they should be allowed to play for free (or super little money). Or at least should be for free if the band plays only originals !
    … or the new generation of artists will barely survive if all small clubs will not host music shows anymore

  5. Just another nail in the coffin for live music. How ridiculous. Maybe one day it’ll be as corrupt as our government and we’ll only be able to listen to music chosen for us.
    I really think they have bigger things to worry about.
    Live music is where it all starts. Why on earth would you feel the need to squeeze the smaller live venues with 100-300 in the crowd on a good night?

  6. I have to admit that I’m surprised that so many of our readers don’t think small venues should have to pay BMI and ASCAP.
    How would you suggest that songwriters are compensated fairly?

  7. It’s not that I don’t think small venues should have to pay BMI and ASCAP…. I just think there is a balance at what size venue the costs are prohibitive vs. benefits such as a small 50 seat venue. I think there is an overlooked and often scoffed at value to sales and royalties for cover songs. There is true value to an attendee hearing a (perhaps long forgotten) cover song, getting caught on it and buying it from iTunes or whatever download. Charge venues but at a min size of 250 seats or similar to allow small venues to continue to foster live music appreciation which is overall good at encouraging sustainment and growth for industry, especially those in remote areas that keep music appreciation actually geographically alive.

  8. The need to know how the actual musicians were treated and payed for there time at these venues seems to be over looked.
    If ASCAP truly cares about artist making a living then it should be a consideration between the artists and venues . I’m afraid ASCAP is interested in it’s bottom line .

  9. The bottom line is how much does the owner of the rights to a song get in the end. Finland’s Teosto (equivalent of ASCAP) charges a gig promoter a multiple fee versus what the artist gets in the end. And the reason is that they have a huge organisation costing a lot and they need to make a profit. And it is unclear that if an artist plays originals, why involve an outside organization. The royalties should be built in the contract between artist and promoter.

  10. I agree Cindy. By playing covers, the artist is creating and/or perpetuating a buzz around the song(s). I have had countless situations where people hear me play a song at one of my shows and download the original on the spot. Maybe I should get paid for my advertising efforts. (Kidding of course.) In the end, I do believe that writers should get paid for their talents and time, but we need to figure out how to do it in a way that doesn’t continue to shut down the very venues and the artists we are covering played in when they were coming up through the ranks, likely playing covers by the artists before them.

  11. This whole issue has to do with….. the fact that ASCAP and BMI in conjunction with groups like the CMA is able to have much to much control of the Music Business markets, and by these organizations the power grab to tell Country Music artist, like the indie-stars, they can not get the means, to become well known, and grab full time careers unless they approve of letting them in their circle of beneficiaries. Nobody can profit on this industry unless they belong to their club of marketeers! That is why the CMA is telling the well known, seasoned, country music superstars that they will not let the Legendary stars play their NEW COUNTRY MUSIC and get heard now, or in the future! You see how much power CMA supported by BMI and ASCAP? And if the legendary stars are having trouble getting heard, you indie stars will be controlled even easier! Bottom line is this, the licenses cost to Business wanting live music is outrageous! AND should be outlawed! But, BMI and ASCAP has great power granted by the USA and they worked real hard to convince everyone it’s for their good! Is it? It’s a GOOD… AND BAD! I stand by Alan Jackson with regard to the CMA! Do you?

  12. It’s all negotiable. I’ve seen them ask a venue promoter for 15K and in the end accept $1,500 (for all three). The problems arise when the venue owner says “Fu_k you if you think I’m paying you anything”. Once that happens you’re screwed. They’ve NEVER lost a case.

  13. How do ASCAP or BMI know what songs are played in these venues? I’ve played my original music thousands of times, and never received a penny (my music is registered with BMI). I also play tons of jazz by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Antonio Carlos Jobim, etc…can either ASCAP or BMI provide me with an accounting of how their estates get paid? This is just a scam to make money for these companies…and disastrous for live music. I lost a good paying gig when a small venue, which just started offering live music, pulled it after being threatened with a suit if they didn’t pay up. Freakin’ mafia tactics – protection money!

  14. BMI is harassing us.. we are a struggling start up non profit working to give young artists in our community an opportunity to perform and develop their craft. We also have a once a week Pickin’ Party comprised mostly of older guys who sit in a circle and play whatever they can at various levels of ability. Its a wonderful addition to our community. My wife and I have not taken any money for two years and are just trying to stay open and pay the rent. It would be one thing if the artists who were sometimes covered (lots of people play originals) got the money but I don’t see that that is what is happening.. They are killing us and I think its just wrong.

  15. Perhaps these establishments should stop playing any of this ( so called ) regulated music. Then ASCAP or BMI could actually see how popular these songs will become. PS: I have been a member of both BMI and ASCAP for over 45 years, with much of my music being used for commercial venues including a movie score.. I have NEVER received any ( royalty ) money from either. The are made up of old dogs with no teeth. One of my biggest questions is WHERE does the money go that is collected. Any-one want to venture a guess. I once played a place on Cape Cod that a so called ( mafiaoso ) type guy walked in with a huge German Shepherd dog and tried to demand payment from my band. We told him to go
    f–c himself and had the management forcabley remove him from the premises.

  16. How in the world does ASCAP know which artists bands are performing? I personally would like for ASCAP to release all of the artists who have signed up with them. Once that is looked over, simple solution, do not perform any of those artists songs. Therefore there should be no need for ASCAP licensing fees.

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