BMI

I am working to begin a movement to change the business model of the music industry … from the ground up. Here’s how:

We love the PRO’s (BMI, ASCAP and SESAC), they have helped so many artists for decades. But as the world of music entered the digital age, ALL the business models have adjusted EXCEPT venue licensing. Why does this matter? There are no more CD music chains left in America, computers and cars no longer have CD slots. It has become almost impossible for most songwriters and performers to make a living, and digital streams pay virtually (no pun intended) nothing.

The FACT: unless an artist is in front of an audience they can not sell their CDs and Tshirts. Hanging on to the current model of venue licensing is the same as the phone industry clinging to the rotary phone. It doesn’t work, and the PROs have no idea what songs are being performed and the songwriters are not getting paid. Change must happen.

Concert & Music Overview
Billboard Magazine reports that upward of 50% of the music venues in America will be permanently lost by April 2021 because of the pandemic.
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Here is what is actually going to happen:
• By the time things open back up, what few remaining venues still operating will be on their knees financially. They are not about to shell out hundreds/thousands of dollars in licensing fees to the PROS just to present music.
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• Once things start to open up and venues begin booking performances again major artists desperate to get on the road are going to consume every available venue opportunity. Smaller artists are going to be crushed by the onslaught of more established artists desperate for performing opportunities.  What that means is the newer, less popular, struggling artists … in other words, the majority of performers in America … are going to be squeezed out of the declining concert avails.
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Now is the time to fix this. Now is the time for smart lovers of music to take the bull by the horns and CHANGE the business model. Eliminate venue licensing. Convert to artist licensing. Why? This will create an explosion of new venues in stages that the majority of artist will be able to take advantage of… And get paid. It will guarantee the song writers will be paid for artist performing their songs.
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An artist license is simple:
It’s like a drivers license. You have a valid license, enter your song list and the songwriters onto a website exchange monitored by BMI, ASCAP and SESAC, the PROs now know exactly what songs are being played and who to pay. Just show your license and you can perform anywhere in America you want to. The venue is off the hook, all they have to do is provide the stage, the audience … and pay the artist.
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• It will take an act of Congress to change this, but I’m telling you all right now: This is the time to make that change. Available venues to support smaller artists will evaporate at an accelerated rate because of the pandemic and economic slowdown. It is happening now so we must act now.
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We are fighting the Wrong Fight

Currently, all the legal attention is focused on securing financial rights to an outdated business model.  Demanding more money for artists right now is like demanding more money from rotary phone copyrights. It’s useless and means nothing. When a town is eviscerated by a tsunami that is not the time to demand rental property payment increases. The music world has been digitally destroyed by big-tech and the pandemic.

The digital platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Spotify etc) should pay into a PRO’s Artist License system that artists apply for that pay for their licensing for FREE. Guaranteeing songwriters are paid, opening up thousands of paying stages and venues, putting musicians in front of the audiences that will buy their CDs and T-Shirts.

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The Proposal

Sometime just thinking outside the box isn’t good enough. You have to CRUSH the box and create a new one.

ARTICLE ONE (click here): we must reduce the size of the overhead of the smaller music levels. This includes making it possible for smaller venues to open up paying stages for musicians and songwriters to meet their audience.

ARTICLE TWO (click here): changing from VENUE licensing to ARTIST licensing solves the problem. With an artist license, anyone can play anywhere they want, it’s like a drivers license … schools, farmers markets, coffee houses, festivals and theaters … and the songwriters are GUARANTEED to be paid for songs performed.

To be clear:

The PROS are doing exactly as they are supposed to do according to the law. They are good organizations with a wonderful history helping many. My argument is that the law needs to be changed to benefit the world of the musical arts.

 

When asked if he would remove the Arts from the budget to pay for the war effort, Winston Churchill replied:
“Then what the hell are we fighting for?”