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Dear brothers and sisters in booze,

 

Got a phone call today from a guy named Joe Leavy at ASCAP.

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) is a membership organization owned and run by more than 576,000 songwriters, composers, and music publisher members. With our annual music license, your business has permission to play any of the millions of songs in the ASCAP repertory - whether through an MP3 player or streaming service, karaoke, DJ or live band. To view our entire repertory online, please visit www.ascap.com/ace.

My understanding from the brief conversation is that they are targeting craft breweries, wineries and distilleries since as they understand it, live or recorded music is generally part of the business model and enhances the tasting room experience. He is using the ADI Directory so I would expect a call or e-mail in the near future.

Here are my questions:

Has anyone had any experience with these folks?

Is the annual licensing fee actually required?

If I am playing the radio and listening to a local station (recorded music) is this still required?

From the last conference I met several attorneys who are now attorney/distillers, love to hear from you on the legal ramifications.

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IANAL, but...

Under the Fairness in Music Licensing Act of 1998 (FMLA), certain small business establishments (less than 2000 square feet if a non-food or drink establishment and less than 3750 square feet for food and drink establishments) can play audio music from radio without having to pay a public performance licensing fee if the following conditions are met:

(1) the radio station is licensed by the FCC (N.B.: Internet and pirate radio are NOT licensed by the FCC and therefore do not fall under the FMLA exemption);

(2) the transmission of the music does not extend beyond the establishment;

(3) the establishment does not charge admission for listening to the music (i.e., no cover charge); and

(4) the transmission of the work is licensed by the copyright owner (i.e., the radio station has the right to publicly perform the works).

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The Pandora Mood Media Plan is an option you might consider:
http://pandora.moodmedia.com/

You can get personal only use Pandora without commercials for $5 a month or the Mood one with all the Licensing included for public use for $27/month.  I think this is probably cheaper than getting a license from ASCAP or SEASAC, etc.

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There's really no way around it. I got the dreaded call last fall and ended up forking over the money directly to ASCAP. I haven't been contacted by BMI or SESAC yet but I'm awaiting the call. Hedgebird's suggestion seems like a good option unless you intend to have live music as I don't believe you would be covered for that via Pandora. 

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