THANKS FOR Joan Anderman’s June 9 article, “Pay to play." It seems that the pond of revenues from music is shrinking, and companies like ASCAP and BMI are going after license fees from smaller and smaller fish. As one musician points out, “The song ‘Happy Birthday’ is covered by copyright. Where do you draw the line?’’
It can’t be financially viable for these companies to harass people like coffeehouse owners, especially since many of them just opt to shut down their music programs entirely, and everybody loses.
When resources dry up, we have two choices. We can fight to the death over what’s left or work together to make more for all. The music pond used to be bigger for a lot of reasons, but one of them was that there was more governmental and corporate support for the arts. There were arts programs in schools. There were more jobs for musicians and artists of all kinds, and these jobs created audiences.
I am a composer and performer — and a member of ASCAP — and I believe that anything that hinders the flow of live performance and participation in music, especially on a grass-roots, low-income level, seems impractical. To make money in music, we need a market. We need people to participate in the process, to be able to go out to the local coffeehouse, step up to the mike, and sing one of our songs without the owner worrying about people in suits coming after the royalties.