When do you pay ASCAP/BMI?

Al Upshaw writes:

     > Our handbell group has been asked to play for a
     > senior citizens function at a local church.
     > I didn't want to run into a problem with charging a
     > fee... copyrights, royalties, CCLI, ASCAP, BMI, you
     > name it, etc.

Al, I totally get why you don't want to charge this church for your services. BUT, you're wrong to not charge because of the royalty thing. Don't charge them because you want to donate your art.

I'd like to clairfy how the ASCAP BMI thing works.

First, if you're playing for a church SERVICE (or IN a school for an educational purpose), you don't owe ASCAP/BMI anything. EVEN if you get paid a million bucks to play.

Second, if you're NOT playing in a church service, or in a school for education purposes, you (or the venue that hired you) STILL has to pay ASCAP/BMI, EVEN IF YOU DON'T CHARGE ADMISSION, and even if you don't get paid to play.

BUT, if you're playing for 200 people and you charge nothing, according to my handy-dandy chart here, you owe ASCAP and BMI a whopping $7 each.

The venue is always responsible for paying the royalties. The only time YOU have to pay is when YOU're the promoter (for example, if you get permission to do a concert in your church on Saturday night, or you rent out an auditorium) If the local brewpub hires you to play, it's their problem. Either way, unless it's church service or in school, someone has to pay.

The good news is, it's dirt cheap. Don't be afraid of ASCAP BMI. They're great folks. Very reasonable and easy to deal with.

Check 'em out. http://www.ascap.com and http://www.bmi.com

Written by:

Campanile, Los Angeles
28 Oct 1997

Archived original can be found at: Re: Playing at another church