MIC Coalition
Aug 12 · 15 min read

On June 5, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a formal comment period to seek public input on the consent decrees that govern ASCAP and BMI. Hundreds of venue owners across the country submitted comments asking the Justice Department to keep these decrees.

Alabama

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because my business is difficult enough I don’t need the harassment.” — Albertville, Alabama Winery

Alaska

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it allows me some rights that I would otherwise not have to help tailor my business to their charges.” — Fairbanks, AK Hotel & Bar

Arizona

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they have kept music rights affordable.” — Mesa, Arizona Arts Center

California

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because without the consent decrees it will be impossible to pay for bands. [Without these decrees,] we would lose a huge percentage of our weekend business and it would possibly cause our doors to close.’” — Santa Maria, California Winery

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because as a small nonprofit performing arts center, it’s important to be able to bring in touring artists within a certain budget while keeping our ticket prices within reason for the area. With higher music licensing fees, [it] will cause us to raise our ticket prices, schedule less performances, schedule only performances that don’t perform licensed music, or any number of things to keep the organization and theater open for business, with the extreme but not unreasonable response being staff layoffs. If PACs [Performing Arts Centers] can’t negotiate block deals with the music licensing companies like arenas can to keep our licensing cost reasonable, then we will be forced to make adjustments to how we do business, cutting a number of small to mid-size artists and the licensing agencies out. Either way it will have a ripple effect throughout the entertainment industry with, of course, the small PACS, nonprofits, and artists being harmed the most.” — Livermore, California Performing Arts Center

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because music is an important part of our business. We are known for both our fine wines and our support of the local music scene. We are contributing to the local economy by paying our live musical performers. Removal of the consent decrees could quite likely result in the end of our business.” — Foster City, California Winery

Colorado

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because without the consent decrees ASCAP and BMI would operate effectively as a monopoly. There is very little impetus to compete as the music business is currently structured and the removal of the consent decree would eliminate what incentive currently exists.” — Paonia, Colorado Winery

Connecticut

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it provides a fixed rate and can be easily calculated based upon number of tickets sold which directly affected by the artist popularity.” — Waterbury, Connecticut Concert Hall

Delaware

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because unfettered licensing agencies would cripple our ability to provide our community with the music it deserves. Our nonprofit organization would struggle to continue to exist in a confusing and contentious free-for-all licensing marketplace.” — Wilmington, Delaware Opera House

Florida

“I would like the Department of Justice to know removal [of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees] would be significantly detrimental to the viability of cultural institutions as well as on the entertainment industry as a whole. The termination of the Consent Decrees would allow these PROs to increase rates without any judicial oversight, allowing differing license fees from presenter to presenter as well as the ability to decline a license and therefore control which artists can be hired. In effect, a monopoly on the industry. Our arts organization relies heavily on these other sources of revenue to remain viable, keep prices accessible, and reinvest back into the local community with educational programming. [Our venue] plays a large role in our state, having an economic impact of $9.1M and is only one of hundreds of such arts institutions, employing thousands of people across the country serving millions of citizens who will all lose if the PROs are granted their request. We ask you to advocate on the community’s behalf to maintain judicial oversight. The Consent Decrees must remain in place.” — Clearwater, Florida Music Venue

Georgia

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because performance venues create a critical place for the community to gather to step away from their daily grind and are a true cultural asset. It is extremely challenging as it is to make any money at hosting shows for venues and any further restrictions or subtractions from the funds we can garner would be extremely prohibitive for our operations. We are happy to pay a small fee to continue supporting songwriters, but please KEEP the decrees and keep this manageable.” — Athens, Georgia Theatre

“In considering the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, I would like the Department of Justice to know it helps balance the scales between the two. The moment the consent decrees are gone then these two organizations will have unchecked powers to further confuse organizations like mine. There needs to be a streamlined method to license music that is fair to both venues AND artists regardless of whom you buy the license from. Who is to say that these bully companies don’t separate into more organizations that also convince you to buy a license or threaten legal action.” — Cedartown, Georgia Performing Arts Center

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because the music license process is already costly, time consuming, and a nuisance. Eliminating the consent decrees will allow the licensing companies to further steamroll and bully small companies across the country.” — Smyrna, Georgia Entertainment Center

Illinois

“In considering the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, I would like the Department of Justice to know the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees are important to me because without them it will hurt my business-bottom line!!!” — Germantown, Illinois Inn

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because as a nonprofit performing arts venue, we rely on access to performance rights to operate our business. Consent decrees maintain order and attempt to create an equitable rights for all users.” — Chicago, Illinois Performing Arts Venue

Indiana

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because I want to support local musicians who play covers, which in turn supports singers/songwriters who then sell more music, both written and recorded, because people heard their music being played at a public place.” — Lewiston, Indiana Winery

Iowa

“In considering the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, I would like the Department of Justice to know the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees are important to me because our business, even after more than 12 years, is still struggling and to increase the complexity and problems could result in our having to close our business. Four of us own the business and we have 6 part time employees and closing our business would affect all.” — Des Moines, Iowa Winery

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they allow me to support local artists, and if it gets any more expensive I will no longer have live music in my establishment. At the end of the day, we are still trying to run a business and if the music portion of it isn’t lucrative then there is no reason to do it.” — Dubuque, Iowa Restaurant

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because we want to support local live musicians while also providing background music to our customers. The predatory actions of BMI and ASCAP make it difficult to offer the best to our cusotmers while also supporting artists in our community.” — Knoxville, Iowa Brewery

Kansas

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it streamlines the licensing process and prevents licensing entities and publishers from unfairly leveraging and monopolizing music licenses.” — De Soto, Kansas Performing Arts Center

Kentucky

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it keeps my products affordable to my customers and allows small venue entertainers to keep working and supporting their families.” — California, Kentucky Winery

Louisiana

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because without oversight, these organizations will seek profits over the best interests of the artists, patrons, and organizations striving to better our communities and quality of life through cultural experiences.” — Alexandria, Louisiana Arts Council

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because we would be subjected to anticompetitive behavior at the hands of the largest music licensors like ASCAP and BMI. Without these consent decrees in place, licensing music at our venue will become even more complicated and costly.” — Lafayette, Louisiana Venue

Maine

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they provide a reasonable way for me to comply with copyright laws and have music at an affordable cost.” — Leeds, Maine Winery

Maryland

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because while they do not solve all of my music license issues, at least it is easier to understand what I need to do in order to legally promote music for songwriters and musicians.” — Lexington Park, Maryland Bar

“In considering the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees, I would like the Department of Justice to know that these consent decrees are important to me because these two entities continue to demonstrate that they engage in abusive, unethical, borderline criminal behavior even while operating under a consent decree. If these consent decrees were to be removed, their behavior will only get worse” — Easton, Maryland Winery

Massachusetts

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because taking away the regulation through which music royalties are paid would create chaos and could be catastrophic for us.” — Worcester, Massachusetts Theatre

Michigan

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because small businesses are being taken advantage of and without the consent decrees, it would be worse.” — Berrien Springs, Michigan Cellar

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because we are a night club with live music and recorded music in a small town. Please do something about this before it ruins small businesses who rely on music as their business model.” — Ann Arbor, Michigan Night Club

Minnesota

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because this is our livelihood in our small community. We have a hockey program and provide social entertainment for the people in our community.” — Bemidji, Minnesota Venue

Missouri

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because the consent decrees are not great but it does limit some of their outrageous charges and actions.” — Walnut Grove, Missouri Winery

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they help keep pricing equality for all venues and guarantee that PRO’s must grant licenses on a non-discriminatory basis.” — St. Louis, Missouri Arena

Montana

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they allow [us] to play local radio in the background. [Without the decrees,] no more background music.” — Helena, Montana Bar

Nebraska

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it appears to help keep down the cost of these licenses. If they get any more expensive I would reconsider live music.” — Ashland, Nebraska Winery

New Hampshire

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because as a non-profit, [additional] fees would likely become a hardship. Also, in our highly competitive market, we would suffer greatly if PROs are given the ability to determine which acts we could hire.” — Portsmouth, New Hampshire Music Hall

New Jersey

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because we are a small business that will be gouged with overpricing when we are a seasonal operation.” — Cape May, New Jersey Winery

New Mexico

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because I would like to offer our customers music on occasion but as a small business simply cannot afford to do so and this hurts my business.” — Bosque, New Mexico Winery

New York

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they will allow my business to continue operation in a seamless and comfortable environment for my customers. Without the consent decrees, this will make our business cold, astringent, and unappealing to our current and potential customers. The music that we play under the current decrees sets a tone for our business environment, and without them, our business would lose it’s soul.” — Dundee, New York Winery

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it is hard enough to run a small business. We want to be fair to the original artists, but even they are unhappy with these organizations and their bully tactics.” — Geneva, New York Brewery

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because I work for a small, historic performing arts venue which would be heavily burdened by elimination of consent decrees. We work hard to bring a diverse range of music to our community with a small budget and small staff. Changing the ASCAP/BMI structure would affect our bottom line and make it more difficult to fulfill our mission and serve our community with live music experiences.” — Troy, New York Music Hall

North Carolina

“We strongly disagree with the U.S. Department of Justice ending the Antitrust Consent Decrees which have regulated the Performing Rights Organizations (PRO) BMI and ASCAP since 1941. Ending this decree would severly, adversely impact our theatre, all other nonprofits, educational, community, state, and national performance venues, and restaurants, hotels, breweries, wineries, and bars across the nation in the following manner: 1) It would allow BMI and ASCAP to increase fees, without any judicial or DOJ oversight, to every performance venue, thereby raising tickets prices for consumers; and 2) it would endow BMI and ASCAP with the ability to unfairly control the performing artists that venues may hire. Ending this decree will create significant uncertainty in how arts and concert venues and promoters would license performance rights for events going forward.” — Charlotte, North Carolina Theatre

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they help protect wineries from the outrageous acts of ASCAP and BMI. Without these protections, most wineries will not be able to afford music.” — Concord, North Carolina Winery

North Dakota

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because without them very small wineries like ours will not be able to afford to provide live music to our guests.” — Durbin, North Dakota Winery

Ohio

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because the loss of decrees would threaten my ability to operate.” — Dayton, Ohio Theatre

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because music provides a nice background sound, supports local musicians and helps with bring in business.” — Kingston, Ohio Winery

Oregon

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it protects establishments like ours from being subjected to anti-competitive behavior at the hands of the two largest music licensors, ASCAP and BMI. Without the benefit of these settlement agreements, music licensing will become even more complicated and costly.” — Portland, Oregon Arts Center

Pennsylvania

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because without them I feel our winery and many similar establishments could not afford to play music.” — Landenberg, Pennsylvania Winery

“I would like the Justice Department to know that the consent decrees are important because without them, the license costs will go through the roof and I’ll stop having live music which will disappoint my customers and will negatively affect all musicians playing small venues.” — Oley, Pennsylvania Restaurant

“I would like the Justice Department to know that the consent decrees are important because in addition to hosting local community endeavors, we provide a venue for national acts to perform that our patrons wouldn’t otherwise be able to access locally. Proposed BMI fees back dated to 2018 would threaten our livelihood and the service that we provide to the community. I also fear that some changes would allow the PROs to dictate the market of who gets booked where and when, which threatens the livelihood of small venues and smaller national acts.” — State College, Pennsylvania Theatre

South Carolina

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they provide a check and balance system that otherwise would be out of control.” — Fountain Inn, South Carolina Arts Center

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees are extremely important as a small-midsize venue. We could not pay the same fees as a venue that has thousands of seats and spends millions of dollars on performances..” — Sumter, SC Music Venue

South Dakota

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because we need music to keep our customers happy. The fee charged to small business and nonprofits is unacceptable.” — Vermillion, South Dakota Event Center

Tennessee

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it impairs the small business owner that is trying to attract customers by offering a local music experience. It impairs the hiring of local musicians. It may cause my business to re-evaluate its existence.” — Knoxville, Tennessee Winery

Texas

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they are the only way we can ensure that we are able to present concerts for our patrons and for the artists to be paid for their work.” — Fort Worth, Texas Performance Hall

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it would make Symphony performances more expensive and less diverse in the musical offerings.” — Lubbock, Texas Orchestra

Utah

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because we are a non-profit organization who provides free live concerts to underserved populations in our community. Having to pay more for ASCAP license would make it impossible to continue to provide live entertainment for free.” — Holladay, Utah Arts Center

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because of the ever-increasing costs of music licensing for the ability to play background music.” — Provo, Utah Convention Center

Vermont

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it would allow me to continue to have live music played and continue to support local musicians.” — Shelburne, Vermont Winery

Virginia

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it will affect the customer service who come to our winery.” — Amissville, Virginia Winery

Washington

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because music in a retail setting makes the customers feel more comfortable and thus stay longer to enjoy our premises and, hopefully, spend more money.” — Bainbridge Island, Washington Store

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because they greatly impact our ability and that of other non-profit arts organizations to present music and related programs to the public we serve. If this is not resolved, it would probably force us to curtail or eliminate many valuable public programs that in many cases impact the most vulnerable communities.” — Edmonds, Washington Arts Center

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because as a non-profit organization, the current fee structure is adequate and can be managed. However, without this, my organization would see an increase of nearly 7x the current budget. That would cripple our business and impact the overall patron experience.” — Tacoma, Washington Arts Center

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because our winery business depends on providing an enjoyable customer experience for our guests, and a huge component of that is music. We are fully licensed with ASCAP and BMI, and play background music, as well as book live music multiple times per month. Without the ability to play music, if the licensing process got more confusing and expensive, we would lose customers and ultimately have to lay off workers. It would severely impact our bottom line.” — Wapato, Washington Winery

Wisconsin

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it keeps the licensing at a lower affordable rate for a small business that only has music a few times a year. I am in a small town and I don’t have a big customer base.” — Clear Lake, Wisconsin Bar

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because our 800 performances a year depend on fair and equitable access to performances of copyrighted work. Arbitrary changes to pricing and the formulas to calculate them are complex and punitive enough. Please do not allow them unrestricted and free reign to change in a whim.” — Milwaukee, Wisconsin Arts Center

“I would like the Department of Justice to know the decrees are important to me because it is already hard enough to deal with ASCAP and BMI with the consent decrees. I shudder to think what it would be like without them. It will put many venues out of business.” — Wausau, Wisconsin Theater

MIC Coalition

A diverse group of music lovers and users calling on policymakers to ensure the music economy can continue to thrive and grow. Visit us at mic-coalition.org.

MIC Coalition

Written by

A diverse group of music lovers and users calling on policymakers to ensure the music economy can continue to thrive and grow.

MIC Coalition

A diverse group of music lovers and users calling on policymakers to ensure the music economy can continue to thrive and grow. Visit us at mic-coalition.org.

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