Our museum is receiving demands from a outfit called SESAC stating that we have to buy a license fee for music. Our non profit does not play music on a regular basis. We allow the use of a hall by third parties for a donation fee and those using the hall hire bands, but we do not pay the bands. In the past year we have had one car show where we had live music that we paid for. We do not charge admission, and any fees or donations we receive only offset expenses. Does anyone have any experience with these guys or have any advice about whether or not we need a license.
Mitch Feinstein, President
Automobile Driving Museum
N. Mitchell Feinstein, Esq.
2121 Rosecrans Avenue
El Segundo, CA 90245
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SESAC seems legitimate upon googling the group. I would have a discussion with them as to why they are asking for you to pay for music rights since it seems all of your usage is through third parties. It may be necessary to seek representation from an attorney in the matter. If your institution already has an attorney that is excellent. If you do not I would highly recommend you find one familiar with museums and copyright law.
SESAC, ASCAP, and BMI and the three big music licensing companies. Music copyright is held, typically, by three parties: the composer, the lyricist, the publisher. It is common for venues to hold annual licenses that would allow you to play music in public, both live and recorded. (It does not matter that your venue or the event is free, you are still using copyrighted material).
While you could ask the band that played the music if they have an annual license, it's quite unusual for bands to carry them. They assume the venue has the license.
The license is probably about 1K, I'd not waste your money on a lawyer and just pay the license.
My husband is a musician, so I am offering this based on what he has told me. Anytime music is played in your venue, you can be responsible for it. Bands sign up for one of the three licensing agencies and when they play they log their playlist into the agencies site. If a venue doesn't have a license, then the agency has a record that they play music there and can go after them. (If it is original music, the musicians can then paid for their performance.) To make it more complicated/annoying, artists choose who caries their license. So a band at your venue could be playing music government by three different companies. And any kind of music (live bands, playing music recordings) can be subject to the licensing agency.
SESAC is legitimate, but some people do try to run scams using their name. Here’s a good article about Music Licensing for Businesses. Hope it helps.
Music Licensing For Businesses: Real or Scam?
We pay fees annually to SESAC to cover any music that might be played in our facility. It is a fee based on annual visitation. Fairly easy to manage.
(Mrs.) Shan P. Rankin
Museum of South Texas History (MOSTHistory)
200 N Closner Blvd | Edinburg, TX 78541 USA
P: +1-956-383-6911 | F: +1-956-381-8518
email@example.com | MOSTHistory.org
American Alliance of Museums Accredited Museum
We pay fees to these licensing organizations as we often hire musicians and play music for events; in addition, we host private events where clients contract musicians, performers etc. There are 3 orgs: SESAC, ASCAP and BMI. Fees are based on annual attendance, and you can register online.
If you belong to a parent institution -- such as a college or university -- you may well be covered by performance rights licenses held for the entire institution. Check with legal council or business services.
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