#1
Hi all. I was curious if anyone had experience with this, but I was thinking about doing some open mic nights just to get my feet wet in the public music realm. Are cover songs acceptable at these type things or is it usually only original music? I have never played in a band or performed live for anything so I was just curious what the norm is.

thanks.
#2
I'm from Germany, so I don't know what it could be like in your country. Here, you are only allowed to play original songs. If you play covers, the host has to pay GEMA fees, so the original artists gains money.

I guess it's also only originals in your country...
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#4
You can play covers. Usually only playing a song or 2 and not getting paid doesn't entail any royalty problems, unless it was being published in a national newspaper that you played those songs.
#5
the open mic i regularly play is mostly covers, it's not unknown to do originals but must people do covers as you only get a few songs and you want people to know what you're playing.
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#6
Quote by pwrmax
You can play covers. Usually only playing a song or 2 and not getting paid doesn't entail any royalty problems, unless it was being published in a national newspaper that you played those songs.


I believe this guy is right

I do like how Germany's done it though, i like that care aspect behind their music scene

So long as you accept no money and it isnt being recorded (other than for personal use i suspect) you should be allright.
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#7
You can play covers, although certain open mics might be aimed more towards songwritters.

Unless you're in Germany apparantly
#8
haha cool, thanks for the info all. i actually have an original song, it's just that i can't play it and sign at the same time like i can for some covers.
#9
Usually anything goes, though certain venues and certain open mic nights will tend to cater towards a particular style. For instance, if the house band is a top-40/classic rock band, you won't typically get a Celtic band or musician up to play. Not that they couldn't.... they would just go to a more "acoustic music-based" open mic night.

Some venues are more "original oriented" and others are more "covers oriented." In any case, whether you do covers or originals is up to you.

The royalty deal in Germany is pretty standard around the world. In Canada and the US, for instance, the venues pay an annual fee that gives them a blanket licence to have performances of copyrighted material. Even your supermarket and local GAP store, and those dance clubs downtown, and the diner on the corner pay these fees to that country's performing rights organizations to allow them to play pre-recorded music in their stores. (because those, too, count as performances of copyrighted material.)

It's just kinda weird that this particular venue (or what has become a cultural norm to not do so) does not want to pay these fees to allow them this flexibility.

CT
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#10
Venues have to pay GEMA, BMG, ASCAP or SESAC (or equivalent) for the RIGHT to play covers. Any business that uses music to further its own business (READ- restaurants, shopping malls, gas stations.. everyone) pays one of these companies for a "liscense" (or what amounts to one). Venues that do not can be hit with heavy fines for violations.

generally speaking in the USA you're pretty safe playing covers at open mic's. Venues that do not have a liscence are required by law to inform every musician that plays there ahead of time that they are NOT allowed to play covers (so as to avoid any confusion).

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#11
Quote by axemanchris
It's just kinda weird that this particular venue (or what has become a cultural norm to not do so) does not want to pay these fees to allow them this flexibility.
CT


Its not really that wierd... a lot of places around where I live don't pay the fees out of something of a "punk" ethic (and I stress the quotation marks as this is how it was explained to me). they feel that music, because it uses the public domain to facilitate its existence (the domain being the air all around us), everyone has a right to perform any peice of music and that people should only profit from other people playing thier music if those people are profiting themselves.

I see where they're coming from; not sure if I agree tho.
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#12
Quote by NoiseBox
eople should only profit from other people playing thier music if those people are profiting themselves.


That's how it is here in Canada, not sure about the US.
#13
Not exactly.

In Canada, if you use it, you pay for it. It doesn't matter if you are profiting or not. For instance, if you record a cover song and give away 500 copies, you still have to pay - even though you're not making a nickel.

If you're having an event... say, a wedding.... and you are, in fact, LOSING money on the night. You want to use copyrighted music? You better make sure you have paid the SOCAN fees. Now, you could argue that the banquet hall (who DOES profit in all of this) is the one who pays the fees. Yes, if you are getting married at a banquet hall. If you're getting married on Aunt Bessie's farm, and she isn't charging you a dime... you still have to pay the licencing tariff for the event.

Festivals... often they lose money, and as a result need to be subsidized by the municipality.... they have to pay the fees.

... and so on....

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#14
I understand what you mean... that punk ethic thing. I like to call it the indie-rock for indie-rock's sake mentality, because that ethos often times will cut off their own noses despite their faces.

Case in point.....

Quote by NoiseBox
everyone has a right to perform any peice of music and that people should only profit from other people playing thier music if those people are profiting themselves.


So, as far as I can tell, there are two possibilities here.

1. The bar doesn't profit so feels that they should be able to host copyrighted material free of charge. (haha..... NO bar can stay open if they don't profit... they'll tell you they don't care about the money, but there's someone else on the other end who cares a LOT about the money, and if the rent isn't paid, you can have all the punk rock / indie / aesthetic in the world but it won't keep the doors open.)

2. The bar DOES profit. (hypocrisy anyone? we SELL the indie rock ethos and make MONEY, BABY!!) They cut costs by not paying the licencing fee and package that back to the consumer as "the indie rock aesthetic." In this case, they DON'T pass the savings on to you. They limit you in the process.



CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#15
^
Canada Copyright Act, Section 27.5

It is an infringement of copyright for any person, for profit, to permit a theatre or other place of entertainment to be used for the performance in public of a work or other subject-matter without the consent of the owner of the copyright unless that person was not aware, and had no reasonable ground for suspecting, that the performance would be an infringement of copyright.


Obviously, bars would be making money but the onus would be on them and not the performer.
#16
Hmmm..... I'm going to have to do some more reading on that, clearly. From the further reading I have done, the spirit of this seems to be to allow for exemptions for educational use, libraries, etc.

As you rightly point out, though, the onus would be on the bar, not the performers.

The SOCAN site clearly outlines tariffs for festivals, with no qualifications/allowances for 'non-profit' or whatever. Perhaps it is assumed that a profit will be made?

The SOCAN site is also *very* clear about requiring to pay licencing fees for recordings, even if they are not being sold. You pay the fee for each copy made, not sold.

Nonetheless... seems I stand corrected on that particular point of usage.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#18
Quote by lilcurtis
Hi all. I was curious if anyone had experience with this, but I was thinking about doing some open mic nights just to get my feet wet in the public music realm. Are cover songs acceptable at these type things or is it usually only original music? I have never played in a band or performed live for anything so I was just curious what the norm is.

thanks.


I have a lot of experience with this. I am an aspiring singer songwriter, and have played a lot of venues, and I have performed many open mic nights. Open mic nights are a funny thing. The first thing about originals, is that if you are the only one that knows your song, unless its particularly powerful and a song that a buddy of mine calls....so good its a no brainer, it may sail right over the audiences head. Covers are good, if they tend to fit what the audience is into.

It depends on the venue. I've performed in Nashville and all they wanted was originals, so my originals went over very well. This is a music business town and these guys are dead serious about their stuff. At book stores with an older subdued crowd, I'd play some mellow covers, Dr Hook, Bread, things people dont hear every day but are recognizable.

College cafes might like the songs of the day - I know a lot of guys where I was playing loved to grab some Coheed and Cambria....others had a small following and did Punk Acoustic stuff. It depends on the audience. Attend a couple of them before hand and see what gets the responses. If it seems to be originals, bring em. If the cover thing seems to be going over, bring those, maybe mix em up - do a strong cover and then slide in an original.
#19
Quote by Reeen
I'm from Germany, so I don't know what it could be like in your country. Here, you are only allowed to play original songs. If you play covers, the host has to pay GEMA fees, so the original artists gains money.

I guess it's also only originals in your country...

thats true, but i think most places dont bother. i mean, how do you enforce something like that? im not sure though. they might do it and i just dont know it.

the places round here with open mic lots of people play covers and originals. if you are unsure, just ask whoever is running it. most pubs i think will allow covers because people wanna hear them.
#20
all i know is that in texas as long as you do a good version of the cover nobody really cares what you play as long as you're not blatantly doing anything illegal (like selling a cd filled with cover songs)