ASCAP, BMI, etc…

…just quickly, because I get asked a lot:

Nightclubs, Artists and Web Designers need to know how to appropriately license the music they plan to use.

Artists who want to know the finer points of whether they should associate with a performance rights organization can ask questions below, or contact me.  I will be eventually dedicating an entire portion of the forums to this topic.

BUYERS may have to deal with all of the organizations (or limit themselves to the “library” of one organization).
PUBLISHERS & WRITERS can only be represented by one organization.

www.ascap.org (ASCAP; American Society of Composers, Authors & Poets)
www.bmi.com (BMI; Broadcast Music, Inc., as an answer to ASCAP)
www.sesac.com (SESAC; fastest growing…because it is the newest)

If you’re using music in your media, presentations, nightclub, website, and/or business (even for automated phone attendants), you’re supposed to have a license for the content.  This is how songwriters and publisher get compensated for bringing music into the world.

We are happy to walk clients and artists through the process and equip them with what they need to know about licensing, for two reasons:

1. We’re a publisher and it is in our interest to keep things above board.
2. It is REALLY EASY to operate legally – and usually it inspires people with ways that THEY CAN PROFIT from the licensing dance.

As with all things – do it right the first time.  It takes us about 30seconds to answer a question (and it saves you the headache of hearing from somebody’s lawyer).

Example: In order to use the original recording of the Cheers Theme Song for a promotion (for THE Cheers! Restaurant in Boston), I had to license the song rights from the artist.  Licensing the actual recording used in the show came at a proposed cost of several thousand dollars (not attractive for a one-time promotion or simply for use on their website).  Think about it though - They haven’t been using the song for over 3 decades because, the second they executed that use, it represented a substantial amount of money.   Or DOES IT?
Solution: After 20 minutes in the studio (recording a new/similar piano& vocal track), I licensed the mechanical rights for the original and handed them a track they could use.  Their total cost ended up being $120…and they can do whatever they want with it now.
Seriously – One of the most recognizable brands in the country and they waited 30 years to add their most recognizable theme-song to a promotion.  Knowledge is power.  I’m happy to demystify this and many other topics for my clients (don’t wait 30yrs for a $120 solution).

Two things are owned when you hear a song on the radio:

1. Mechanical Rights (the words and music – as it would appear on a piece of sheet music) – extremely affordable
2. Master Recording (the owner of the actual audio recording that you hear) – not always affordable

- Mark

(reprinted from 1/13/2011)

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.