Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thwarted by ASCAP

This coming Friday, Cinder Bridge was supposed to play at the Black Rose Caffe, a goth-styled coffeehouse in town. Today they cancelled our gig. Actually, they decided they weren't going to have live music again. Ever.

Apparently they've been getting harassed by ASCAP. For the uninitiated, this organization collects fees from venues featuring bands that cover original artists. Said fees go to their members, the original artists who sign up with them.

Black Rose Caffe, a small locally owned business, didn't want to deal with the fees. They also had no desire to run afoul of the law. Their solution: hire live bands, but insist that all of the songs be originals. Whenever we played there, we made sure to take our small handful of covers off the set list.

Not good enough, I guess. The harassment continued. The BRC proprietors decided live music wasn't worth the hassle.

Look, we're original artists. We'd love to hit it big enough for other bands to cover us. It's nice to know that organizations like this vigilantly fight for intellectual property rights. The bullying tactics don't sit right with me, though. If anyone from ASCAP listened to our Black Rose Caffe sets, they'd know that we and BRC played by the rules.

I get that they don't have the resources to send spies out to every little coffeehouse in the country. But does that make it OK for them to lean on business owners when they have no evidence of cheating?

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Update: Ron the Drummer tells me it was ASCAP doing the hassling, and that BMI wasn't involved. I've changed the title for this post and removed references to BMI accordingly.


thorn said...

Wow... That's really sad. I've played a number of places that won't allow live acts to play covers, which is completely understandable. (Not to mention a little stressful the time we forgot the venue we'd be at didn't allow covers until we got there the night of the show.)

It's horrible that any place would feel it necessary to completely do away with live music because they're getting hassled so much.

cinderkeys said...

Yeah. Black Rose is the only place we've played so far that hasn't allowed covers. I wonder if your no-cover venues aren't getting hassled, or if they simply feel like they can afford a fine if it comes down to that.

Anonymous said...

That really sucks! How ironic that the very people who rely on original music as their core business concern are squeezing original music out of being!

I hope this is not a trend and other venues don't get fed up of it all too.