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Thread: Covers revisited

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    Ok, I've looked over the information here and at mp3.com and read a few FAQs on the net. But I still have some questions.

    I want to record a cover...a cool mixture arrangement of Hendrix's Hear My Train a Comin and Voodoo Child. I'm NOT going to sell it, but I am going to post it available on the net...so I need to make sure I'm not infringing on any rights. I'm not going to be sampling or anything like that.

    From what I gather, I don't have to go through the Fox agency and pay their $35 fee. I simply have to serve the publisher of the songs with a notice for compulsary license. They have no choice but to let me record my own arrangement of the music as long as I pay royalties. Royalties are based on units distributed and the length of the piece and are payed quarterly AND at the end of the year an earnings report must be submitted by a CPA.

    Here's where I'm confused. I'm not going to be making any money off this. Therefore I figure that I can serve the publisher with a notice and each quarter report that I've made nothing. Yes?

    Now the end of the year thing bothers me. Do I have to pay a CPA to generate an earnings report that says, "Slackmaster didn't make a friggin dime?" That seems like a big waste of money to me!

    Comments please?

    On the same token, are all the cover bands in the world breaking the law when they perform without licensing every single tune they perform?

    Slackmaster 2000

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    look, alan douglas has cashed in on this legacy for long enough, don't lose any sleep over it. there is a real lesson here, remember that jimi hendrix died broke because slimy people in the recording industry ripped off his music (he signed a lot of contracts that got him in trouble later in his career).

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    Hmm. That doesn't help much. I'm not sure what Alan Douglas has to do with my responsibility to respect copyright law...especially since "the family" is now in charge (frighteningly it would seem).

    While there may have been shady dealings, Hendrix died "broke" of his own accord. Maybe if he'd paid more attention and lived past 28 he'd be alive and rich.

    Oh well, not my life, not my business. I can tell already that this is going to turn into a "MUSIC RULZ! MONEY SUX!" debate. Oh yay. So much for my question.

    Let's pretend that I didn't mention Hendrix and that I was actually referring to some living, rich rock star. Now help me with my question if you have an answer.

    Slackmaster 2000

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    Since the whole 'music on the net' thing is relatively new, the policies are probably being manipulated as I write. You can be resonably sure that ASCAP and BMI are going to try everything to get money out of licensing music available on the internet. If you are not going to sell it, I don't see the need for a mechanical license, but if they consider someone downloading the song a "performance" then you may need some sort of performance license. I am not sure about that.
    In regard to the cover band question: The band does not need a perf. license, but the venue needs a blanket BMI and ASCAP performance license. They all have them, too. ASCAP & BMI watch that very carefully. If Joe down at Joe's Bar & Grill thinks he can have a cover band (or any music, live or otherwise) playing in his joint, and get away with not obtaining a license, he has another thing coming...ASCAP & BMI know when these places open, and if they don't apply for a license after a while, they will come knocking on their door.
    If you are in a Boston tribute band, which is SK2's secret dream , and want to play More Than A Feeling at somebody's backyard party, that does not require any license, but you do need to worry about the cops!
    Oh wait, a lot of cops have mustaches! They would probably just join the party!

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    Red face

    I looked into this in detail once and sure enough, when you go into the money details, they try to rip you 6 different ways. I believe their minimum web site licensing agreement is something nutz like $500/year, and any download is indeed considered a separate performance, so that even if you were giving it away free, if it was popular you'd have to pay for each download.

    Now, since the song isn't titled "Voodoo Chile", their chances of actually downloading every file on the net, deciding it was close enough to Hendrix' music for action, and then going after you for money are kind of slim, but that's exactly what stops me from posting a lot of the stuff I've done.

    I think that eventually (within a year or two) this will change, as people like you and I would feel perfectly happy paying $50/year to post our music withou feeling like we were ripping off another musician, but with these kinds of fees, it's obvious that most of the money is going to the lawyers and other money-grubbers and we'll have the kind of backlash that is going to kill the similar a*holes at the traditional record companies.



    [This message has been edited by Dragon (edited 10-22-1999).]

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    Brad and Dragon:

    Thanks for the info. I don't even want to mess with that crap. I'm willing to jump through the hoops to make sure I'm not "stealing", but I'm not going to pay $500 to stick a free cover song on the net. I don't know, I guess I can kind of see their side of things....I suppose...maybe....

    I suppose I could just name it something obscure...but then people would scream and shout that I was stealing...and I'd probably shout the same thing to be honest. I'm working on a CD for some close friends so I'll stick it on there and call it good.

    BTW, I'm doing a portion of Voodoo Child (Slight Return)...not Voodoo Chile Blues.

    Welp, it's not what I wanted to hear, but thanks very much for helping me out!

    (Oh, and Brad...nice dig about Boston. I can't come up with a good come-back tonight...but I'll getcha one of these days. Crazy mustached weirdos around this place I swear....

    Slackmaster 2000

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    I can't see why you would bother with any of those things. If I were you, I would just make the mix, post it, and let it be. Personally, I feel that as long as you aren't trying to profit off of it, or misrepresent yourself as the original artist, or slander someone... there should be no problem.

    Free use. It's a good thing. If someone samples another artist, I don't think that this would constitute any of those stipulations I named above. Nor would they be trying to perform the same song for their own benefit. If you are simply remixing the song, and posting it for friends, that's called being a fan. Don't sweat it. --DaveX--

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    Dave,

    I guess I agree from the moral standpoint that I'm not doing anything wrong...it's the legal garbage I'm most worried about. Unfortunately I do respect laws that protect property and ideas, and if there was an easy way to do this legal I would do it.

    Remember OLGA? That too was a free expression by fans...and it was just guitar tablature....and it was 90% INCORRECT in the first place. The asswipes at the fox agency were still able to get it taken down...sort of.

    I probably will just post it without drawing any special attention to it. Thanks.

    Slackmaster 2000

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    What I really don't understand is how they can get away with calling each download a "performance." I'm assuming it's just a typical misunderstanding of the technology.

    An download is a physical reproduction. If they qualify it as a performance, then you should also need a performing license for every CD that you ship.

    It's just too easy to take the buzz phrases literally. How many times have you heard someone say something ridiculous like "I'm playing music on the internet!"

    Slackmaster 2000

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    Right on Dav-x!!! I've got a Sublime mix (see the mp3 forum) that is a conglomeration of samples from different Sublime songs, randomly collected wav samples, and a horn line I recreated on guitar because I couldn't get the original sample to time-sync correctly. I did this thing as a project to familiarize myself with my equipment before starting on my serious personal works before I even stumbled onto this page. I posted it and it's about as popular as week-old roadkill. I would be happy even with some negative comments but I have only gotten one reply (from another outcast, apparantly). Lighten up people, this was supposed to be a tribute to a really interesting band who did a wonderful job of mixing their 'live' playing with good studio work. I don't want any fame or fortune, I just want to share some creativity.
    I know that there are laws out there about this kind of stuff but as a musician, I understand what those laws are supposed to be for. Do I hide my tribute away somewhere in case the pencil pushers decide to make an example of me? I think my answer is clear. I've been into J. Hendrix forever, what do you think he'd say about you doing a medley (or whatever) of his work? I'll tell you, he was paid to get up on stage and be the larger than life rock god thing but stories abound of him jamming with people in an effort to share his gift and talent with other people who loved music like he did. He'd tell you to follow your heart, not the creakings of the moneymongers walletbooks.
    I'm gonna wave MY freak flag high!!!

    p.s. my next mp3 is gonna be just my stuff, maybe somebody will hate it enough to let me know ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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