Sunday, February 3, 2008

Music-less coffeehouses

I just heard about another area coffeehouse (I'm talking coffeehouses as a business, not the non-profit ones that are in church basements) having to stop offering live music because of pressure from ASCAP/BMI to pay music licensing fees, which, I understand, run $300-$500 per year. I'm not sure who bears the blame, and this is an area that I'm not well-versed in. Can a coffeehouse afford the fee -- roughly equivalent to a cup of coffee a day? Many coffeehouses don't pay performers, anyway. The musicians play for tips and, perhaps, CD sales.
ASCAP and BMI seem to becoming more aggressive in trying to protect their turf and the interests of songwriters and publishers. How much of the fees they collect actually go to the composers of songs done in coffeehouses?

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