playing in public

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by VAN, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. VAN

    VAN New Friend

    Jul 28, 2009
    Pompano Beach
    Hello, I perform for organizations,private parties,etc. I play solo trumpet and play along with the hal leonard playalongs. Do I need to get hold of ascap or bmi and how much does it cost or is it alright to play with the playalongs? Thanks
  2. larry tscharner

    larry tscharner Forte User

    Apr 30, 2010
    dubuque iowa
    By the looks of the response to this question, it looks like you are the only one worried about this. Go ahead and play. Best wishes.
  3. keehun

    keehun Piano User

    Feb 4, 2010
    Not quite. There are "public broadcasting" loyalty fees that the OP could be worrying about. Though... I'm not so confident but... I don't think it really applies to sheet music. It's only to recorded performances that there are usually public broadcasting/performance fees for.

    Someone should correct me if I'm wrong
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Public performances need to be registered and payed for. There are exceptions but you cannot assume that you are exceptional. The question is if YOU are the one to get nailed or if the people that book you are. I would send a mail to Hal Leonard and ask them about the procedure.
  5. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    The answer is found in Title 17 United States Code re "copyrights". In short, YES, you must pay royalties for each and every piece of music you play and each time you play it.

    The Harry Fox Agency represents ASCAP in copyright matters.

    Hal Leonard is a publisher who may have obtained copyright of the songs in his playalong books but Hal Leonard has nothing to do with securing the copyright to play such songs in public, especially for a performance fee.
  6. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    There are basically two organizations which membership allows you to perform. One of them and the largest is ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Pulishers) and the other is BMI. Sorry I can't give you much information of BMI, but ASCAP minimum membership fee is $311.
  7. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    It's a valid question. I'm amazed Ed Lee hasn't jumped in here with both feet, I still can't figure out if he hates buskers or just knows the legalities inside and out and is simply a stickler for doing things legally - I'm beginning to think this second thing may be the case.

    Here are two links I found, ASCAP Battles The Girl Scouts!


    And a rather good discussion of the issue by some classical guitarists, BTW CG means "classical guitar" in their discussion.

    Classical Guitar • - - Playing in a cafe vs Busking

    Then some more discussion on a site called Taxi - ASCAP suing clubs/restaurants for royalties : General Hangout

    From what I've gathered over time and from today's bit of research, the deal is:

    Yes, if you're playing in public and playing copyrighted songs, you need an ASCAP license, and maybe a BMI license too.

    You can get away from this by playing songs that are not copyrighted any more, but a LOT of corny old stuff you'd think is public domain, isn't.

    Or, you get an ASCAP license and you get to play the stuff in ASCAP's pool of music. A BMI license allows you to play BMI-protected stuff.

    These licenses are yearly and priced according to the size of your operation. If you're running a large, popular bar, it's gonna be thousands a year. If you're running a huge radio station, it's probably a lot more than that. On the other end, high school bands and small time performers get licenses, and those seem to be about $200-odd a year from ASCAP.

    So the deal is, if I go out and play on the street and I'm making a living, is $200-odd a year going to hurt me? No. I'm buying valve oil, books to learn from, all kinds of stuff, tools of my trade essentially, well the music is a tool of my trade and I'm stealing it if I don't pay for the use of it to make money.

    I don't HAVE to play other people's music or copyrighted music. I can write my own stuff. I can check carefully through ASCAP's list and make sure I play my own stuff and a body of music that's not copyrighted. But I'm not going to do that because it's very limiting and my own stuff would sound awful. So I'm using copyrighted stuff to make money because it's really good stuff. I like it and people like it and it brings smiles and pays. It's like selling Cokes on a hot day. Only, am I going to buy those Cokes to sell wholesale, or am I going to snitch 'em?

    The chance of my getting busted for playing any thing I want right now, is tiny. I don't even sound that good yet; my playing should be termed "chowder" because there's at least one clam in every song. And so far this year I have earned $4 busking. It's still stolen Coke though.

    So, maybe the way to go about this is to work on a body of non-copyrighted songs and only play those until I get the licensing thing taken care of.

    Notice there are two types of ASCAP license, a one-time membership fee for artists/writers, that's $35, and the performance license which is yearly and is for venues, priced according to the income of the venue. For a street performer, you are the venue.

    EDIT: Cool, there are a ton of Xmas carols that are public domain, I bet there's a lot of other stuff that's public domain too, plenty to get me going.

    Another thing, the performance, or venue, license is for the holder of the venue. If I'm playing on the street, I'm essentially the venue, so I can't play "covers" without that license. But if I play in coffee shops etc that have their license, then I can play "covers" there without having to have my own license.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2010
  8. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Here in Oz we pay about AUD$1200.00 per annum (if memmory serves) for performing rights - so that is for a 40 piece Concert Band AND a 20 piece Stage Band, usually playing for a fee.

    It covers the full range of scores from, say the Carl Fischer publications that we purchase and the like, through all the other music scores we own, to the occasional publisher Ed Wilson (our Band patron) who allows us to play wherever and whenever we wish, without fees - needless to say, Ed's arrangements feature in our Concert Band performances - the Stage Band is a little more ecclectic.
  9. glorybe

    glorybe Piano User

    Jul 29, 2009

    I do think that your first challenge should be to find stand along solos. I would tend not to want to play with a cd accompaniment in public. And I do play those Hal Leonard books at home but they really are not suited for performance purposes. Better transcriptions always cost a lot more money and shelling out ten or twenty bucks a tune does hurt. But if you want work and get tips when you work you might want to get several top notch versions of tunes. Amazing Grace is a great example. There are very generic stand alone versions of Amazing Grace that one finds in play books but there are some astounding arrangements of Amazing Grace sold individually. It may take a lot more practice before you belt out some of the more advanced versions but it will be worth it.
  10. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    Um, OK so let's say I'm playing Amazing Grace, even the raw beginner I am, I can play it sounding sad, or pep it up, and I could put some extra fiddly little notes in to jazz it up and stuff ..... Oh I admit it, I hate reading "bugs"

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