Songwriters whose work is recorded by others deserve compensation through rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Songwriters whose recorded work is played, broadcast or streamed by others deserve compensation through rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. But songwriters whose work is performed live by musicians in venues that seat under 150 people should waive compensation because the collection of fees from small live music venues impedes the growth and health of live performance opportunities.
Bars, pubs, restaurants and theaters that seat under 150 people should be considered "incubator venues". Establishments should be encouraged to feature live music, but are currently discouraged by performance rights fees and threatening collection tactics. Most musicians will agree that the growing scarcity of live music venues is a crisis in our industry. I encourage musicians and fans of live music to write their congressional representatives. Only force of law will change current policy.