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Topic: Royalties and streaming and ASCAP $340

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  1. #1

    Royalties and streaming and ASCAP $340

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    On my website I stream my songs, which I write and perform. I wrote the streaming software myself so I can sync lyrics and images to the music.

    But I recently did 2 covers or other writers' songs. And just to be legal, I researched the copyright issues for streaming.

    Wow!

    It turns out that while the actual performance rights for the amount of streaming that has gone on would be in the range of about 20 cents, ASCAP says the minimum annual fee is $340.00! To cover "future royalties for the year".

    There has to be a better way.

    And I am not even sure how "mechanical rights" fit in for streaming.

    And are we liable when we publicly post Mp3s here of copyrighted works we perform???

    Anyone here can permanently download that music, and the author is due both a performance fee and mechanicals, it seems.

    I happen to know the two writers of the songs I am streaming. I would be happy to send them each a check for $5...many times what they are actually "owed"! (Both writers are signed with ASCAP for the songs I did on my site.)

    The thing is, even if they gave me their permission to stream their songs (to help advertise their writing talent) ASCAP and other performance rights organizations could still demand that I stop streaming their composition unless I pay ASCAP their minimum fee. If other writers were involved and I also had to pay BMI and SESAC it will total about $750 a year or more.

    I want to do the right thing. I am a songwriter myself.

    But it is a pretty crazy time in the internet music world.

    Any thoughts on this?

    --- Glenn in Minneapolis

  2. #2

    Re: Royalties and streaming and ASCAP $340

    You're mixing two issues. The ASCAP requirement is a clerical, not a moral one. Send the money to the authors.

    Ernie

  3. #3

    Re: Royalties and streaming and ASCAP $340

    Quote Originally Posted by ohernie
    You're mixing two issues. The ASCAP requirement is a clerical, not a moral one. Send the money to the authors.

    Ernie
    Ernie,

    I am not following. Could you expand on that?

    Thanks.

  4. #4

    Re: Royalties and streaming and ASCAP $340

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn
    Ernie,

    I am not following. Could you expand on that?

    Thanks.
    You owe the authors for the use of their composition. Assuming your calculations are correct the amount owed, as set by the authors and their licensing agent(s), is a pittance which you have no problem paying. The problem is that even in a day when Paypal's computers handle jillions of <$10 transactions, their backwater accounting system doesn't want to deal with nickels and dimes, so they set a base level.

    Kind of like a restaurant setting a $20 minimum for the use of a charge card.

    Thus, there are two issues. The amount you owe the authors for the use of their work ($5), and the amount that makes it worthwhile for the accountants at ASCAP to take your money ($340).

    Since the total amount is peanuts, since you know the authors and since "justice is served" by your paying them directly, I would just leave ASCAP out of the loop. You're doing the right thing, just not through them.

    Pay cash for the meal.

    Ernie

  5. #5

    Re: Royalties and streaming and ASCAP $340

    Ernie,

    I understand now. Well reasoned.

    --- Glenn

  6. #6

    Re: Royalties and streaming and ASCAP $340

    Yes. ASCAP allows you to cut your own deals with the authors. BMI, however, does not. So be careful there. BMI composers actually assign public perforance rights to BMI. So clubs, radio stations, and web sites have to pay BMI even if the performer does his own songs and gets paid for it. On my own web site, I just play it safe and license with both ASCAP and BMI.

    It's not clear that the mechanical licensing provisions of the Copyright Act apply to streaming. But many of my recordings are covers and are sold by the stream or digitally on 3rd party stream or download sites (e.g., I-Tunes). The generally accepted way to deal with it legally is to write to each song right owner and advise them that you're doing a "Digital Phono Record" of their work and will pay for sales at the mechanical rates. What I do, to further simplify things, is also advise them that I'll account for both stream and physical media sales together in HFA licensed quantities... otherwise you'd have to send them quarterly reports and piddly little checks. Haven't gotten an objection from a publisher yet.

    Howard

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