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Restaurants have to have license to play music

READ MORE: Restaurants have to have license to play music
Everyone knows you need a license to serve liquor, but did you know you also need a license to play music? Some bar owners in Surf City learned the hard way. Michael Pasquantonio of Mainsail Restaurant and bar was recently contacted by ASCAP and BMI -- two organizations that ensure musicians collect royalties for their music. Pasquantonio had to sign contracts with both and pay a fee. This way, he's not liable if a live band plays one of their artist's songs. "It kinda stinks because we're into the season already and we've already booked the bands. So we had to go and pay them for this year," said Pasquantonio. Pasquantonio said had he known about this earlier, he may not have booked live bands. The fees cost Pasquantonio close to $1000 for the summer season, which is money that will be taken from his profits.

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seasac will be contacting

seasac will be contacting him next


The problem is...all three of them collect for different artists for the RIAA.... have to pay these EXTORTIONISTS...EVEN if you are just simply listening to FM RADIO or PURCHASED CD's!!!!

Had you hired a bar

Had you hired a bar consultant, you would have known this.


A "bar" consultant....thats a first...


Well, one must pay for the drinks one consumes in the bar. Why shouldn't the songwriters and performers expect to be paid too? ASCAP has been doing this for years and there has been plenty of publicity about it in the press and elsewhere. Don't ask me to cry in your beer, sir. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Or if you knew about it and chose to ignore the law, well you took a risk and lost. Pay up and stop whining!

Fees to play music

Next thing you know people will have to pay a fee to play music at their own home entertaining guests! A person buys your CD, now they have to pay if anyone but themselves hears it! Do bowling alleys have to pay a fee to the shoe company they buy from when they rent out their shoes??

Rising costs

The point of the story is not about paying the fees, it's to let the public and consumers know exactly why they have to pay so much for a drink and tickets at live music shows. I would suggest doing more research about ASCAP and BMI before you start siding with them. These organizations do not support struggling artists, they simply feed money to the music power structure (meaning producers, lawyers,and agents) before any artists actually see a dime. You'll notice that most sites dedicated to anti-BMI and ASCAP are set up by indepedent musicians trying to make a living in this perverse coporate set-up. Also, these organizations are non-profit, meaing they are expempt from local & state taxes, only taking away from the local economy, not adding anthing to it.

I just found out the hard

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.

Hey, "Just got Slapped", you

Hey, "Just got Slapped", you have my sympathies here! Small venues as you describe are part of the fabric and charm of living in a beach resort area. For my own entertainment I checked the fee structure for each of these "agencies" and, to be polite I will say EXORBITANT.

Who authorizes these entities to do business in the State of NC?

Who aids these entities in the enforcement of their discipline on establishment owners?

Who is receiving this money taken from our community's business owners?

What, if anything are our elected officials doing to protect the interests of our small business community?


You don't know the details here...these guys work for the record companies...they are able to EXTORT money not only from the person PLAYING the music..but those who LISTEN to it...also..if you haggle with them...THE PRICE IS ALWAYS DIFFERENT! It's a crappy loophole that should get shut down along with the RIAA. I don't mind paying to listen to music...but you shouldn't have to pay MULTIPLE times!


ASCAP and BMI are forms of legal extortion..."pay our fee or we shut you down". Sounds like the old mob protection scheme. The way to get around it? Have the live bands play original songs only, and there is no licensing issue.

ascap scams

I play harp in a restaurant and now the owner is telling me that he cannot give me more work because ascap people went in and told him that the restaurant must paid a fee for the music I play . Now I play my own music my own tunes but how can ascap people know this is my omw music ?? I never studied music .I dont know how to read or writte music...I only play by good ear.. so why I cant ge hired eny more ??


Not only do these guys have to pay license fees for the music...THE BAND has to pay to PLAY the the RIAA GETS TO DOUBLE DIP!! AAAaaah I see a day when the RIAA goes down in a ball of flames.

Open disclosure

Sue for breach of contract on the open disclosure rules. And if they told you and then you didn't grasp what was going on then you are at fault. In the future contracts you have with the bands you need to specify that THEY will not play a song that will bring these royalties forth. Then the whole problem is on the band. Their ignorance isn't for you to pay.

You're wrong

ASCAP sues even if only original music is played. They successfully had a bar shut down which only featured original bands on the basis that a cover could "potentially" be played.

Once these extortionists get

Once these extortionists get the money, where does it go? I doubt to any artist.