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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  • 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:

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

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

    Dane Tessler on

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