After just receiving my ASCAP licensing fee invoice for 2011, I thought it might be a good idea to do a post about music licensing. I dove into researching the topic and came up with the answers to my own questions along with some interesting other facts.
Full Disclosure: I only researched copyright laws of the United States, so if you have any information about international music licensing, please comment!
So without further ado, here are some frequently asked questions about music licensing (after the jump):
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13 thoughts on “Studio Owner Buzz: Music Licensing FAQ”
i never thought of this, one more reason to be thankful for dancers' efforts to teach. this explains why so many middle eastern dancers/oriental use live musicians, as well as added ambience of live music.
Thanks for sharing your research! Did you pursue the question of music in public schools? No money changing hands, either for classes or year-end performances.
GREAT post. Coming from the world of artist management, it's always nice to see folks stepping up and being proactive in the interest protecting artist's copyrights. Especially when it's so easy to just fly under the radar or claim ignorance. KUDOS!
Thank you all for your comments.harleygypsy – Live music is a great alternative to pre-recorded music! I didn't think of that.mm – I didn't research extensively into public schools, but there is an exemption in the copyright law for nonprofit educational institutions. I know that music teachers often have to purchase the rights to perform musicals or orchestra pieces, even if their performance is free.James – Thank you!
@mm I was researching issues related to music licensing earlier today, and came across something (I can't remember where), that stated that these licensing companies don't require non-profit public schools to pay for use of music within the schools. Here's something related from ASCAP: http://www.ascap.com/licensing/licensingfaq.html
I have come across a new source for Royalty Free Music, video for Wedding Photographers, Portrait Photographers, Wedding Videographers, Non-Profit Organizations, Ministries & Churches, and Production Companies.
My take on this whole issue is this: ASCAP, BMI and other like organizations are a bunch of opportunists. Shame on them for going after small businesses that require music to function.EX: dance studios,nightclubs, aerobic instructors,etc. Studies have shown that people who go to nightclubs,dance studios or have aerobic instructors are more apt to go and purchase that 'great beat' or 'hot tune' after attending the such establishments, and as far as I'm concerned, these businesses are owed royalties for playing THEIR music and putting some more money in THEIR pockets…just goes to show you…greed has no limits or conscience…shame on you !!Hot in Orlando
Hot in Orlando…I agree! I am a small dance studio. Been in the business of teaching dance for nearly 30 years and recently started receiving demands from ASCAP again. I'm close to retiring and yet they still want their share. I usually edit the piece of music I use to fit my use so it may not be the same as the original. Should I still pay? Hey…I'm just trying to encourage, develop and entice those that I teach to go beyond and find expression and freedom of movement and interpreation to the goal of their self expression. Usually, they end up pursuing more music. I should be rewarded for spreading the music too!
As a small studio for classical ballet only I too am being pursued by ASCAP. Although I understand the need to protect the right of the artists and their royalties, there is still too much open to interpretation regarding definition of law, especially in aspects of "public performance". I am aggrevated by the threats from ASCAP and alarmed at emergence of federal involvement in this part of the music industry. I have a hard time believing that the artists themselves would condone suing an educational arts organization over use of music in instructional settings!
Interesting point, Anonymous – my students also end up purchasing much of the music heard in class… mostly BECAUSE they heard it in class.
Does anyone have a copy of the ascap dance studio blanket agreement? I would like to see what their rates are for small studios.
Part of my studio is for profit (however we had to ask our landlord to accept a much lower rent due to the economy. Therefore we have not had a profit in the last three years. Part of the studio is under a not for profit (which is where most of our classes are). Also, we rent the building. Do we still have to pay ASCAP?
@Anonymous – I couldn't find my agreement, but looking at what I paid last year for my school, ASCAP ended up being about $0.60 per student. BMI came out a little cheaper at $0.48/student and SESAC was $0.30/student. I believe it is calculated by a few variables, so don't quote me on that (ha) but that is a rough estimate.