Monday, February 4, 2013

Music in the Pole Studio

You see the angry posts on Facebook all the time.  Someone posted a video on YouTube and YouTube yanked it or silenced the audio.  They blame YouTube, but YouTube is only doing what it is legally required to do to save it's own ass from being sued for copyright infringment (if you want more information about copyrights, click HERE).  It is the artists, who (rightfully so) are trying to protect their work product and income (we can get into whether they are overpaid, but the truth is, I can't carry a tune to save my life, so if I am paying to hear someone else sing well, they deserve whatever the market is willing to pay them).  Yes, we provide the beautiful dances, but the music we are using belongs to someone else (although it probably belongs to the music label, not the artist, not that it changes anything). 

For those of us with a day job, we show up for our eight hours (more or less), and go home with a paycheck. Imagine if you were suddenly working the same hours for half the pay. You'd be pissed. Granted, when you're already making millions of dollars, some might find it hard to be sympathetic, but hopefully you can kind of understand what I'm saying.

It's not just your videos being posted to YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo.  If you are playing music in your pole studio, you owe someone, somewhere money.  We are not allowed to just play music in "public" situations without licensing that music. 

How can you license music to play in your studio

One way to avoid the fee is to search for royalty free music.  However, that will not include the Top 40 hits that most of your students are excited to dance to.  Another way, which is what one studio owner in Canada is doing, is to ask a local, unsigned band to provide original music for your studio.  You will need to sign some paperwork to make sure everyone understands the deal, but there are certainly some amazing bands out there that might be willing to trade their music for some free plugs.

You can also obtain a blanket license through ASCAP -- The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.  They claim to have the world's largest musical repertory.  Although they license millions of songs, you only have the legal right to play the songs on their list.  BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) also offers licences.  Between the two companies, there are a reported 4 million+ songs.  SESAC is another licensing service.  They claim that, "[u]nlike ASCAP and BMI, SESAC utilizes a selective process when affiliating songwriters and publishers, resulting in a roster of affiliates who have personal relationships with the SESAC staff.  In short, SESAC’s creative staff provides affiliated songwriters and publishers with a level of service and attention unparalleled in the industry."  If certain artists have tired of the same ol', same ol' that may be haunting companies like ASCAP or BMI, you may see some jump ship and join SESAC.  And, keep in mind that the fees paid to these companies must be paid every year.  This is not a one-time payment. 

[Did you know that the Happy Birthday song is still copyrighted? Read the saga of that song HERE.]

By the way, licensing the music to play in your studio does not then buy you the rights to post videos with that song on YouTube.  I wish it worked that way but it doesn't.  The internet was a fabulous invention and has made the world a much smaller place.  But it has also presented a huge problem for a lot of artists, whose work can be shared for free on a much larger scale.

I know it's frustrating.  You opened your studio because you love pole dancing, and you are being nickel and dime'd at every turn.  But please make sure you are paying the correct fees to the correct place.  Getting fined after the fact is no joke and will cost you a lot more. 

Do you have any experience with licensing music?  Please feel free to leave tips for those just starting their journey to pole studio ownership!

11 comments:

  1. Great post, Lori! Here is some more information on Music Licenses and what's allowed when it comes to music and how to avoid copywrite infringement. http://www.unitedpoleartists.com/about/music-rules/

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  2. Right now i am shocked to see the pictures of your journey, Really amazing.

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  3. The fact is the legal way of doing things means that we must purchase the required license to use the music. It's the law and like it or not, whether we agree with laws, we must agree with them.

    Now I don't agree with how many of these PRO's operate, because I know there are a lot of loopholes and twists and turns to these licensing companies. For example, LMFAO's lead singer writes a song and the group performs it. It is my understanding that the lead singer may sign his right to BMI, then the guitarist signs his writes to ASCAP and so on...so you must actually license with all three of the PROs to have the right to play the song. This isn't fair but it's our government who has allowed this to stand when it's been fought in court.

    ALL THAT ASIDE....I am really tired of people complaining that they "can't afford" music licensing or that it's not fair that they have a small studio and barely have enough students to warrent paying for a license. I wonder how those studio owners would feel if another instructor came into their studio, copied the routines they teach in class, and went and used that to teach classes in their own studio - using what they worked hard on to create to make money without any compensation to the studio they "borrowed" the routine from.

    My feeling is that if you can't afford what you legally and ethically are required to spend to run your business, like music licenses, business licenses, crash mats, insurance, etc, then they have no business running a business. These are the basics of running a pole studio!

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  4. Clarification of a typo in my first paragraph: "It's the law and like it or not, whether we agree with laws, we must agree with them" should say: It's the law and like it or not, whether we agree with laws, we must abide by them.



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    1. Agreed...I also put together a list of costs when opening a pole studio. I'd love your input here. I'm also writing a post about the cost of throwing a pole showcase if you have any advice. :-)

      http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-much-does-it-cost-to-run-pole-studio.html

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  5. I totally agree with what Mary Ellen posted...there are lots of expenses that pop up when you own a business...best advise is to make sure all your t's are crossed...if not you may end up with more bills, headaches then you anticipated. I know of so many studios that do not have proper insurance, do not use mats, do not pay for any music licenses, and their response is, until they find me I'm not gonna worry about it...Well my advise is don't get caught with your pants down.

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    1. I wrote about the pole studio costs. Didn't even add mats to the original post. I'll do that now! http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-much-does-it-cost-to-run-pole-studio.html

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  6. Lori, you have some great posts here about running a pole studio. I'm currently in the research and planning stages myself, It's great to have all these resources put together. There is so much information out there and so many studios are not run correctly. Business classes are helpful but not specific to pole. I really want to have every little detail done right!

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    1. Happy to help!! United Pole Artists also offers some great info on running a pole studio. Check out Jennifer Michelle Marketing as well. She used to run Pole Skivvies. Lots of great information for those who might be interested in owning a pole studio. :-)

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  7. Another great article: http://www.dancestudiolife.com/tag/pay/

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