We were having drinks with some friends last night and discussing some of the comments we’ve gotten on my recent blogs, and the topic of ASCAP/BMI payments came up…..a couple of people around the table didn’t think they ought to have to pay to play recorded music in their restaurant or for the music the piano player who appears only on weekends plays……well, I went ballistic……
What planet are these people living on? Do they think that the music they and their customers enjoy just appears through some quirk of quantum physics, or that it is somehow magically delivered to their place of business by Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or some other entity?
The simple fact of the matter is that royalties for use is how composers and musicians get paid. They don’t work for free and they have bills to pay just like the rest of us. ASCAP and BMI don’t keep the money they collect. They distribute it to the proper owners, based on the actual usage (as best as it can be determined, which is a very difficult task). The problem is that nobody wants to pay, and this royalty payment is almost never budgeted in advance by those who have to pay it.
I have yet to have it explained to me in terms that I can understand why composers and musicians should be expected to work for free. If I ever hear an explanation that truly holds water, I want to try it on my electrician or plumber next time they do some work on my house.
If composers and musicians are not paid for what they create, there will be no music. If they don’t get paid for creating music, they will soon have to learn to say “do you want fries with that?”