Music: the sounds of work in the office
On Aug 2, 2004, at 11:57 AM, Eric Nolan wrote:
Let me know if I’m coming out of left field here… Â I read an article on wired.com about dentists in Canada having to pay SOCAN fees to play music in their offices.
Okay here is where I disagree with the whole enforcement of paying forÂ music.Â Music, itself,Â Â has nothing to do with business. It isÂ a celebration of life through sound. I mean really, how much does the actual artist get paid if someone pays $100 a year for music services after everyone gets their cut? Can’t imagine it would be much.Â No, I think that all artists are like those people you see on the corner with their guitar and an open guitar case. Some people will drop money in, some won’t, but everyone will be able to listen to the sound of music (to coin a phrase). Let people support the artist in whatever way they’re comfortable with. Some may just contribute by clapping, others by giving money. Artists are to be appreciated for their unique view of our world not the dollars and sense that big business attributes to their talents. I’m sure that people can come to their own conclusion of paying money forÂ the artist ! they wish to support, notÂ the artist’s opulent masters. I don’t see anyone paying the city of Santa Monica for the artists that play on their streets…do you?
Yes, you are, Eric… Every public performance means money for the composer and many old musicians depend on that income. A dental office is as much a public place as is a cafe, restaurant or store. If they are using music to make people comfortable, or entertain them, or whatever – they need to pay.
The amount of money they have to pay depends on how many customers they entertain, i.e. the performing right fee for a dentist’s office will be a lot lower than the fee a restaurant or super market would pay. $100 bucks is less than $10/month. If the dentist should feel that that is too much, they can order a subscription service such as the Dish Network, Direct, or Muzak, which are more expensive and which, by the way, include the performing rights money in their fee. Every six months I see some money for my music played by those services.
All of those fees go into a pot and are distributed between all of the members of the performing rights organizations, e.g. BMI or ASCAP.
I bet that the writer for Wired would be very upset if his article was re-published by another magazine without him getting any money, yes?
I am getting tired of so many writers claiming that music should be free when their articles usually are not! Ask a photographer about a photo s/he took of you a few years back and which you paid for (fee plus expenses) and might want to use for a new CD. That photographer will talk about them still owning that photo and you only licensing the image.
Let me give you an example. When a photographer took pictures of me for the “Little Wing” CD, s/he was paid by Epic for the rights to use those images on CDs, posters etc., and when I decided to use one of the images for T-shirts, I had to pay a new fee to the photographer for the right to use that photo. Do you understand now? Images, words and music have all moved away from ownership and into licensing. Even a painter, who sold you his painting has the right to get paid again if you should use that image for advertising, for example. After all you bought the painting and not the right to do whatever you want with the image. There are web sites for art, where you can search through photos of paintings and then license the image for an advertising campaign, or your new CD – without buying the painting.
Now, I personally gave CDs to my dentist and told him I would not mind him playing those CDs without notifying the performing rights organizations, but that is not the point.
How would you suggest we differentiate between the public performance of a piece of music in a dental office, or in a restaurant, or on the radio, or on TV, or in a movie theater?
Do you want musicians to go back to the good old times: living on hand-outs, or having to find a rich benefactor? Surely not!
Maybe you are proposing a world in which everyone works for tips. I should suggest that to my dentist. He should put up a tip jar and “Some people will drop money in, some won’t, but everyone will be able to get dental care. Let people support the dentist in whatever way they’re comfortable with.” Yeah, sure!!! If he gets paid, I want to get paid as well.