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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

ASCAP Is Taking License Sidesteppers To Task

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

According to ASCAP press release, on June 7th, 2023 The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) declared its filing of 13 copyright infringement suits against bars and restaurants throughout the nation, which is the result of the unwarranted public performance of its members’ copyrighted material.

ASCAP is a member based alliance that functions on a non-profit basis and works on the behalf of more than 920,000 independent songwriters, composers, and music publishers. ASCAP’s purpose is to make sure that its members can support themselves through their art by way of licensing public performances of their music, collecting these licensing fees, and the distribution of royalties to the creators/members.

“As businesses have recovered from the pandemic, they have returned to using music because it helps create an emotional connection and ambiance that attracts and retains customers,” commented ASCAP Executive Vice President, Head of Licensing Stephanie Ruyle. “However, each of the establishments sued today has decided to use music without compensating songwriters. Hundreds of thousands of well-run businesses across the nation recognize the importance of paying music creators to use their music and understand that it is both the lawful and right thing to do. By filing these actions, ASCAP is standing up for songwriters whose creative work brings great value to all businesses that publicly perform their music.”

Songwriters make their living by licensing the performance right established for them under copyright law. Businesses using copyrighted music have the ability to obtain permission to do so lawfully through a simple license, which encompasses the entire ASCAP inventory of over 17 million musical works. The average cost for bars and restaurants total less than $2 per day for the permission to play an unlimited amount of material.

ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President, songwriter Paul Williams added: “We want every business that uses music to prosper, including bars and restaurants, and are happy that they are on their way back after some very difficult years. As songwriters and composers, we must earn our livelihoods through our creative work, and music is how we put food on the table and send our kids to school. Most businesses know that an ASCAP license allows them to offer music legally, efficiently and at a reasonable price – while compensating music creators fairly.”

According to ASCAP, they have made numerous attempts at the establishments listed below to offer a license and educate the business owners about their obligations under federal copyright law.

Establishment (City, State):

Believe Music Hall (Atlanta, GA)

Ben's Tune Up (Asheville, NC)

Bleachers Sports Grill (Phoenix, AZ)

Buford's (Austin, TX)

The Butcher's Tap (Chicago, IL)

Ciccarelli's Premier Sports Club & Eatery (Shelby Township, MI)

Cowboy Row Saloon & Chophouse (Baltimore, MD)

Mojitos Ultra Lounge (Orlando, FL)

Moochies Tavern (Matthews, NC)

River Road Ice House (New Braunfels, TX)

Top Dawg Tavern (Columbia, SC)

Wally's (Hampton, NH)

Widow Fletcher’s (New Port Richey, FL)

More information about ASCAP’s licensing of bars, restaurants and music venues can be found on ASCAP's website at:

It seems that ASCAP will not be backing down from its mission of ensuring music creators get their just due. I look forward to more news like this where creator advocacy is being taken seriously and being made a priority. If you are a music creator, you may want to look into membership with ASCAP and similar entities dedicated to the best interest of musical creatives.

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