I just found out the hard way about these licenses as well and since we were hiring local high school and college kids trying to make a living and pursue the arts we had no idea we needed such a license. We were paying the performers directly not trying to rob them of any cash that was coming their way and since many were playing music they had written themselves I couldn't understand why we had to have these licenses. Needless to say we are a small cafe just starting out that has a small 20 person capacity, and now we have to fire our musicians because we can't yet afford these licenses. So thanks to BMI ASCAP and SESAC there are now several musician out of work.
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