BMI music licensing for coffee houses and restaurants?


New member
Jun 19, 2007
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BMI, who represents copyright interests of many music artists, has contacted me and aggressively pursued payment for a license they say I''m required to have as a coffee house as well as renew each year. The price for this, for me, would be 2000 dollars a year, but could max out at 10,000 dollars per year depending on the size of your coffee house.

Is anyone else paying this? Does anyone other than me see this as a pathetic attempt by big business to extort money from the pockets of ''mom and pop'' sized companies who otherwise might not know how to fight the issue?

I have about 12 open mic nights per year, and I have a collection of 10 jazz / blues cd''s I play throughout the day, and they are saying I''m in violation of copyright law by allowing these kids to come in and strum a couple songs on their guitars by their favorite artists. They also say It''s my responsibility to play ''copyright police'' and ensure the content of the open mic participants is not represented by BMI. Of course, if I pay their 2000 dollar annual license fee, I''d be covered.. Fine, so what happens when RIAA and ASCAP come banging at my door for their fees?

The pockets of coffee houses and small restaurant owners are about to be legally pickpocketed by these big music corporations by distorting the copyright laws for their own purposes. Does anyone else agree that this is ridiculous?

rights and stuff

Why don't you tell them to stuff it and never play another BMI artists' music. They will not be able to prove anything in court. I have worked with several musical groups in Austin and have never had a single record rep complain to me about one of the bands covering a tune from their companies portfolio. As far as I understand you can perform anything you want so long as you are not producing it for sale. I'm assuming that you are not charging at the door for open mic nights.

Is it a pathetic attempt? Yes and no. You yourself are considering paying their "licensing fee".

To avoid them entirely I would suggest getting a good internet connection and broadcasting one of the on-line radio stations. I would also suggest you have them produce a list of all the songs(not artists) they have the rights to and which they have evidence of you "violating". I would also suggest a little counter-attack. Go to your local press.

One time I went to see Willie Nelson and he jokingly covered "How I can Just Kill a Man". I doubt Cypress Hill tried to sue him or the venue he was playing at.

P.S. Coverbands do not ask for permission until they cut a CD.
tell them to F @$#@$ off they call my stores also and send me letters, I am waiting for the day the try to make me pay, I will take them to court and end this once and for all.