No More Live Music

The following is an extract from a letter I wrote to the musicians we have had to inform there will be no more live music at Buon Giorno Coffee.  Please understand that I think musicians and songwriters should benefit from others who make money from playing their songs.  That is not what was happening at Buon Giorno, and it wouldn't be so bad if the money actually went equitably to those it belongs to.
 
"Yesterday I received a threatening letter from one of the three music licensing companies telling me that I would be sued unless I pay a license fee for music at both my locations.  I have recently been hounded by the other 2.  As a small coffee house venue, we don't charge an entrance fee, give free drinks to musicians and I have personally always contributed to the tip jar as a contribution to musicians I know don't make a lot of money from their music.  I also pay a small salary to someone who organizes the shows and keeps an eye on things.  If I give in to the legal extortion being exercised by these 3 companies my total annual bill for hosting music at my 2 locations would come to approx. $7,000.  You probably realize that even a successful coffee shop, which Buon Giorno certainly is, will never be a big money making business.  My wife and I make a living and for that we are grateful and don't expect to get rich so this kind of annual overhead just to play music is out of the question.
 
To make matters worse, the music licensing industry is an unethical business or a kind of legal racket, where their representatives extort money that will never find its way to anyone who plays at Buon Giorno because they divide the money that is left after overheads between those artists who are played on radio and tv.  They are in possession of plush corporate offices and their overheads run into the millions.  Who is paying for this?  Those who pay the fees.  I cannot in good conscience go along with this method of profiteering at the expense of people who are simply not making money from it."
 
It is a sad day for us all here, but we are already thinking of alternatives such as poetry and fiction readings, comedy and other outlets for those who wish to be creative.  Perhaps there are some ethical famous musicians out there who will finally realize that they had their early careers encouraged by places like Buon Giorno and that the operations of those who are more interested in money than the musician will not be responsible for 'The Day the Music Died' - I do hope I do not receive a bill for using that quote from Don Maclean, but nothing would surprise me anymore.





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Comments on this post (11 comments)

  • Please let me know when you decide to welcome back singer/songwriters who perform their own music. It would be wonderful to fill your venue with words and music again.

    — Tom
    On September 29, 2013


  • I was there went it all started David, and I have great memories of playing there too. I remember my students playing at open mic nights, and I’m sure they always will too. As a music teacher I understand the importance of performing and that interpretation of others music is as much apart of music as the notes themselves. What’s more is that corporate bullies don’t have any idea what you’ve accomplished as a small business entrepreneur and how much you’ve given back to the young musicians in your community. Thank you. You have me in your corner. Its been many years now and I have moved and it bums me out that I can’t be a part of the “Boun Giorno” culture anymore. Especially because nowhere I’ve been since has came close to that vibe…and I know how much live music played in creating it.

    How about an instrumental improv night, you could even invite well known musicians passing thru to come and jam, instrumentally with others. Seems to me that it could be argued that lyrics can belong to the one who wrote them easier than some one can argue about owning middle c. What ever you’re going to do I know you won’t give up on keeping the music as much a part of Boun Giorno as it was in the beginning.

    — Chad
    On August 27, 2013


  • Why not make your venue an original music only showcase? The music publishing companies have no power over original unpublished music as I understand it.

    Just a thought.

    — Robert George
    On July 02, 2013


  • Why don’t you insist all the bands play ONLY their original music, no cover tunes. There’s not a darn thing the big 3 thugs could do about that, unless the musicians made the mistake of already being in bed with them.

    — Gary Coots of Ps150
    On June 28, 2013


  • Thanks for all your kind support. I just want to reiterate once again, that I am not opposed to musicians receiving their dues for music that is played for a profit. Unfortunately, we don’t charge any entrance fee and don’t make ANY money from the performances after all our costs for putting music on has been taken. However, I am working on a way we can make this work by truly establishing a 100% no cover policy. Most of the musicians who play at Buon Giorno are talented enough to be able to bring their own songs and so we are working on this so musicians can continue to benefit.

    Watch this space.

    David

    — David
    On June 13, 2013


  • I’m so sorry to hear about this. I hope that there is some way for this to resolve itself. Someone should write a letter to Ken Marchent or one of the Senators.

    There was a disturbing podcast on This American Life about how intellectual property rights (including music) is being used against small companies and technology start ups:
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/496/when-patents-attack-part-two

    — Adam
    On June 12, 2013


  • Music. So it goes. I’m sorry to hear about this. It really is unfortunate. I haven’t been to your coffee shop in a very long time but I used to go all the time when I was in college taking courses at TCC. Maybe hosting an open mic night would be a way around holding actual shows. Rooting for you all.

    — Stephanie
    On June 12, 2013


  • Wow! I don’t know what to say… music licensing industry can burn!

    — Eric Lopez
    On June 12, 2013


  • Well I am very very saddened to read this. I just graduated from Baylor university. I am a singer/songwriter and I was very much looking forward to playing my music in your coffee shop. It had been a dream of mine in high school but I never built up the courage to do it when I was younger. I was also looking forward to Having live music close by. I understand your reasoning, but it will be missed.

    — Layne Lynch
    On June 11, 2013


  • That’s a shame. Sorry this had to happen. Kudos to you for doing it for as long as you did.

    — Dane Tessler
    On June 11, 2013


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