When we last tuned in, puns intended, our stalwart record companies had completely given up on the idea of actually making great records people might want to buy, and had instead decided to charge radio stations for having the audacity to broadcast their records over the airwaves willy nilly so that even the unwashed unsubscribed could hear them.
Now it’s the rights societies turn to go after those thieving huckleberries who run nightclubs, coffee shops, restaurants, and hair salons.
And don’t think for a minute you sneaking, sniveling dentists are safe either. It’ll take more than laughing gas to save your ass.
The license fee in Australian nightclubs playing records just went from 7 Aussie cents per customer to $1.05–and if there is dancing, from 20 cents to $1.07 per person.
Just in case you’re thinking that might bode well for live music, think again, my friend. Performance rights organizations are now going after coffee shops where folk duos play to 50 people.
In Canada the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers is going after barbers, hairdressers, and, yes, dentists who play music of any king that their customers can hear.
Have you had enough yet? No?
OK, just one more, and then we can all go back to denial.
A restaurant in Florida was contacted by a company that said it had to pay a license fee for music or it would be fined.
“But we don’t play music,” the conniving scoundrel claimed.
“You broadcast Monday Night Football don’t you?” our protector and savior asked.
“Yeah, so what?”
“We own the rights to Hank Williams, Jr.’s “Are You Ready For Some Football,” and you’re broadcasting it.”
Long pause. Looking for the Candid Camera, no doubt.
“I’ll tell you what,” the former New Jersey restaurant guy says. “Next Monday, when Hank comes on, I’ll turn the sound down.”
See you on the radio.
LITTLE STEVEN VAN ZANDT plays guitar in the E Street Band, played the role of Silvio Dante in The Sopranos and hosts the syndicated radio show, Underground Garage. He can be reached through his website.