Don't believe the hype: Top five facts about ASCAP, BMI, and live music


There’s been a fair amount of hype of late, regarding ASCAP, BMI and SESAC - Performing rights organizations, or PRO's.

First, we all know that PRO's are not perfect. The AFM (Musicians’ Union) has been battling them on some stuff for years!
Perhaps their most glaring shortcoming is that they are, on the whole, totally lousy at public relations, which makes them
even easier to demonize.


A big part of this campaign is to challenge the cultural assumptions that devalue musicians.

They're as toxic as they are ubiquitous, and exist at every level of the industry in some form or another. You don't need to be a grungy punk rocker to fall victim; you'll find these even amidst the concert hall's formal blacks.

These questions simply put words to those assumptions.  Ask around: what do your friends, booking agents, and fellow musicians say? 

Fair Trade Music: How it Works

Under Fair Trade Music,

- Venues agree to pay musicians FTM minimum rates
- FTM provides signage and allows the use of their logo
- FTM promotes the venue through its networks of musicians, labor organizations, and supporting businesses
- The FTM logo communicates true support of live music and musicians, and becomes associated with high quality music
- With better music, patrons stay at participating venues longer, and go to them more often. This is good for everybody.

Nuts and bolts: the Venue Agreement

This agreement is the functional essence of the campaign. 

Like the campaign itself, the spirit of the agreement is to be collaborative and mutually beneficial; 
Musicians don't thrive unless venues do, so this has to benefit everybody in the long run.

Do you really wanna ride the fence?

Fair Trade Music knows that musicians work their asses off to write and rehearse good music, and we think it's absurd that they're expected to do all the advertising, lug all the equipment, and entertain a crowd for less than what the dishwasher makes.  
As musicians, we can be an infuriating bunch sometimes, in a sibling kind of way. After all, we are all brothers and sisters in tone and rhythm. A big part of my job at FTM is contacting musicians to talk to them about their working conditions.  Most of them aren't sure what the difference is between a hobby and a service, and are either indifferent to the concept of FTM or afraid to make any kind of assertion. 
The apathy is understandable - When Marx called religion "the opiate of the masses," he'd never seen television, let alone Netflix, Facebook, or YouTube.
See video

Four Things Every Musician's Gotta Know

Regardless of the type of music they perform and where they perform it, If every musician was aware of these four simple truths, every one of them would be a lot better off.

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