Friday, March 31, 2017

BMI and Tribulations

This morning we received an email from BMI stating that we had been paid undue royalties and now owe the funds back to BMI.

It turns out that a number of songs someone else wrote are linked to our BMI account.

It's not a large sum of money and errors do happen, but to us, it actually proves what many small time artists feel. BMI does not provide any care or concern for us at all.

Below I have posted this morning's correspondence.

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Hi Daniel:

Hope this email finds you well.   I’m writing to you from BMI. 

BMI received an inquiry from a publisher that mistakenly used your IPI number (world-wide identifying number) for a number of titles that were actually written by another writer with a similar name.   Unfortunately, this resulted in a payment of about $374 to you that was meant for the other BMI affiliate.   We have since corrected our database and will be issuing an adjustment debiting your account the aforementioned amount.

We apologize for any inconvenience this error has caused.

Sincerely,

Antonella

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Antonella,

Please explain to me how you will debit the $374, I can't afford to have the funds debited directly from my bank account, so I hope you are just going to debit future royalties.

In the 8 years or so that I've been dealing with BMI, I have not had a single positive experience, nor do I feel that the organization does any good to small time artists. 

Constantly while on the road we run into scenarios where small bars and restaurants refuse to have live music because of the harassment from BMI representatives. You need to understand that small bars that host small music acts, more often than not lose money by paying and/or feeding traveling musical artists. Overall your organization has done a lot of harm to me as a musician trying to carve out a living as an artist. Now you've made a mistake and I hope it doesn't cause me even more financial strife. 

I would like to discuss canceling my future relations with BMI. 

Daniel Davies Hallock

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Hi Daniel,

I’m so sorry to hear that your experience over the years with BMI was not positive.  The monies BMI gets from those venues are used to pay the writers and publishers of the works that are being performed.  I’m not sure if you are aware, but songwriters who are performing at these establishments can submit their Setlists through the BMILIve portal (via their online account) and get paid for their original works that are being performed live.     

Venues that do not want to pay a license fee can have artists perform as long as they get the rights to those songs from the copyright holder.  If you own the copyright to the works, then you can give the public performance rights to the venue.  You will not be able to perform covers unless the venue has obtained those rights.  If direct permission by the copyright holder is granted to the venue for 100% original works, BMI cannot collect a fee and therefore no payment can be made to the songwriter or publisher.   For a bar that has an occupancy of 100 people and live music every night, that BMI license fee for the year would be about $600  (less than $2 a day.)  This is so that songwriters like yourself can get paid for music that is adding value to establishment’s bottom line.  Our license fee structures are posted on our website if you’re interested in checking it out.  

It’s unfortunate that the publisher registered the incorrect information, but sometimes it does happen.  We’re just trying to get the royalties to the correct songwriter.  The statement that was posted to your account on March 17, 2017  does reflect the incorrect work Fat Stacks along with the amount that was issued for the work that you did not write.  This is in addition to other royalties that appear to belong to you from other sources.  The debit will be issued against future royalties.   

I’m attaching a copy of your agreement.  Paragraph 1 indicates what you need to do to terminate your agreement.  It appears that we would have to receive your termination request by tomorrow via overnight courier (Fed Ex, UPS, etc. ) per the window period described in your agreement.  Otherwise, it renews for another two years.  However, keep in mind that the overpayment balance will need to be paid off in order for any termination to become effective.    

Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions.



Sincerely,



Antonella

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Antonella,

I've heard the excuses from Performance Rights Organizations a thousand times. I've done a lot of researching, talked to hundreds of artists & venues and put years of thought into my opinion.

I'm well aware that I can give a venue public performance rights to my material and perform songs from the public domain. I have talked venues into allowing us to do this on the road and in one particular case, I received a call from an infuriated owner who was called by BMI the day after we played about payment due to BMI. The venue owner thought I reported them to BMI after agreeing there would be no harassment from PRO's about the show. Many venues just staunchly refuse to allow live music solely because of the calls they receive. Apparently, your employees that call these owners are hostile and threatening. 

I will try to break this down for you from my point of view, and I encourage you to share this with other BMI employees. 

I'm from Montana and have performed mostly in small town bars around Montana and Wyoming. Please note there are more people in the Nashville metro than Montana and Wyoming put together. 

A bar in the middle of Wyoming in a town of 1000 people that has a 100 person capacity will never have 100 people in it at one time so right from the get-go circumstances leave them overcharged. Your fee to them is $600, then ASCAP wants another $600, then SESAC wants another $600. If this bar has music, pays the band $200(which is often the revenue for the night), then there are jukebox fees, plus they're out any food and drink costs they share with the band. Let's conservatively estimate it costs the bar $5-10,000 a year to host music. 

To people in Nashville or NYC, that's a piddly sum that many of you probably make in less than a month, but it's not uncommon for people in small towns to live on $30-40k a year. (Small towns meaning a small western town, not the 30,000 plus cities that people back East consider a small town). $1800 just for PRO fees is a significant percentage of that bar's revenue, and because of this cost, the bar is forced to turn artists like me away. I lose venues regularly, and the owners of these venues usually call me directly very sincerely apologize, tell us what a pleasure it is to have live music and then go on to explain how much they hate BMI, and I emphatically agree. 

Now I know your company talks very loud and proud about how much you do for artists, but my case alone quite eloquently illustrates that you exercise absolutely no due diligence on behalf of your clients. I just looked at my BMI account, and the majority of the songs on there are NOT mine. This situation is a big mess, and if you would've performed your fiduciary duties to your client, there would be no issue.

I would personally like to wash my hands of this whole situation, but unfortunately, because of the hundreds of dollars that I now owe BMI, I am unable to pay. I realize this is not a personal issue and one of strictly business and since I cannot pay to break this contract I'm obligated for another two years.

I'm just a Folksinger and don't know what the answer is but I feel your business method is flawed. It may be working for Top 40 artists, but it is to my professional detriment. Maybe your methods worked in the analog past, but in the digital present CDBaby has been perfect for me. BMI I can do without. I feel like you're killing live music. 

Be well.

Daniel Davies Hallock

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!


Well, we've been out of touch for a few months. We're calling it "The Transition".We fled the impending bitter cold winter typical of Montana and head Southwest, through Idaho and Oregon to California with no plans other than staying warm. We ended up staying in Humboldt for three months working 12 hour days on a farm and playing shows on the weekends. Needless to say, busy work on a farm seemed to be the best opportunity to reflect on the past year and where we would like to go from here.

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Montana in September before we left.



Someplace warmer.


The open road, the act of "going", moving forward and leaving everything is a character trait we both love and hate about ourselves.  We love change, meeting new people and constant adventure, but sometimes we also use it as a way to escape real life, because let's face it, life can be hard. Although playing music as a job is amazing, sometimes it gets hard living off of something you love, because you have to sacrifice your art to survive. So, instead of heading out on an epic, spontaneous journey, this time we're going to hunker down for a little while and nurse the introverted, creative side of ourselves. Musically speaking, sharing our music is our passion, but we also need to take some time to create new music, explore new ideas and grow, personally and musically.

We decided to stay in Eugene, OR where Daniel got a part time maintenance/landscaping job at a really nice RV park in exchange for rent and bills. Total score! We have all the amenities we need plus a hot tub, pool and gym! Our surroundings are beautiful green hills, the Pacific ocean not even two hours away and Mountains to our east. Endless new music venues, new music, new towns! Breweries, Thai Food, coffee roasters galore! Open minded, tolerant, forward thinking people! And everyone, seriously, everyone has been nice.

We've played a few shows since we've been here, all which have gone very well. We opened for a local band on New Years Eve at one of our new favorite brew houses, "The Brewstation", which was a great way to ring in the New Year!

It's been an exciting year and we're happy it led us here! To recap, here are some of the most memorable events of 2014:


  • Purchased our home on the road, our RV,  The Fleetwood Tioga!
First day on the road with the RV!

  • Completed a Massive National Tour: MT, WA, OR, CA, AZ, NM, TX, CO, WY!
  • Played our first ever festival, Red Ants Pants!
  • Played for our biggest crowd ever, over 5000 people when we opened for The Clintons in Billings, MT
  • We made a music video!
  • We played 96 shows, 47 from May-August, and the rest scattered through the year!
  • Hiked the Grand Canyon!

The Grand Canyon!


Daniel hiking into the Grand Canyon!

  • Traveled through at least 7 National Parks during which time Daniel got stamps and stickers for his awesome, and kinda nerdy, National Parks Passport! 


Rumeysa at Crater Lake National Park, Crater Lake, OR

  • We celebrated 3 years of Marriage and 5 years of music partnership!
Celebration!

2015 New Year's Resolutions:

  • Complete new album
  • Break 150 shows 
  • Incorporate drums and electric guitar
  • Take music lessons to improve art
  • Do a Hwy 101 tour
  • Do a Montana tour 
  • Do a Texas tour
  • Be invited to open for Fred Eaglesmith's Traveling Band


HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your new year bring happiness, love, health and prosperity! 

Love, 
Daniel and The Blonde

Claire Reitz Photography






Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hard at work.

Putting up posters for our show at the Clam Digger in Mckinleyville, CA The boss lets me drink on the job too!


Friday, September 19, 2014

8 am! KPOW 1260am Powell WY.

Our first ever radio show debut! Man, it's early for us, but what a fun experience. We napped afterward and then darted off to Billings for our last show in Montana before we left to head West!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Red Ants Pants Festival!

 Our first time attending Red Ants Pants Festival and our first performance at a major music festival. Wow, what a "Great Time"!  We played 7 songs and the energy from the crowd made us feel awesome and we left the stage high on good vibes. The hometown Red Lodge crowd came out in full force and made us feel like we were headlining the main stage. Thank you guys!

From Thursday night to early Monday morning I played, sang, drank,  and played, sang, drank til almost dawn every morning (hopefully not to the dismay of other campers), met some really talented folks and got a chance to hear some really cool music too. We hope to be back again next year.

-Daniel

Pre show Pendleton warm up!
Meysa is belting it out, Anton and Daniel are getting down!





Friday, June 20, 2014

Alive After 5!


We had a great time opening for the Clintons at Alive After 5. This is probably the biggest crowd we've played for. We made some new friends and got a lot of positive feedback. It was a great time!


On state at Alive After 5!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Montana; it's good to be home!

Friends, faces and the air were all fresh, welcoming and long awaited. Canyon Creek Brewery was our first show back in Montana and the official end of our four month, ten state winter western journey.

It's hard to express the gratitude we feel to everyone that came out and gave their support. We are definitely glad to be back in Montana.

Perfect spring weather and a whole bunch of great people made our last show and our welcome home complete with joyous resolve. We had a really great time and are going to frequent the "Beer Henge" as often as we can.

Let the good times roll. - D


Feels good to see that sign!


Playing at Canyon Creek Brewing!


Rumeysa makes The Blonde Ale official at Canyon Creek Brewing!