The Stabbing Knife Vol. 1 – ASCAP

July 21, 2009


Time to unpack the stabbing knife. Kids: don’t read any further than this unless a.) you really want to, or b.) no one’s stopping you.

Pity the poor music industry. Or don’t. Any group that claims to speak out for “poor artists” at press conferences while sending packs of lawyers out the back door doesn’t deserve your pity. Contempt, perhaps. But not pity.

Having long ago run out of sane ideas on how to maintain their wealth, ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Performers) has decided that everyone, everywhere should be forced to pay in perpetuity for listening to music. It’s just not enough to buy the album these days.

First, a little rundown on their targets. A rogue’s gallery of copyright violators and pirates of every shade. Here’s who ASCAP is billing now:

Anyone who embeds video on their website.
So pretty much everyone at every blog site and everyone everywhere else. Specifically, this goes after YouTube, which is a bit of a stretch, especially considering YouTube has already agreed to pay them $1.6 million for hosting the videos. Now ASCAP would like to collect again. And again. And again.

The town of New Milford, CT.
ASCAP would like $280 because the town center “sometimes has music playing.” The city council voted to ignore the billing, tabling it indefinitely. BMI and SESAC responded by increasing the amount of their claims to $3,000 and $1,500.

Everyone who owns a cellphone.
Well, maybe not everybody. Not if you’ve never purchased a ringtone featuring a popular artist. ASCAP is claiming that your cellphone, while doing its job of alerting you to an incoming call, is performing publicly and thus subject to royalty charges. Better put that phone on vibrate. Those easily excited can just set it to mute.

Hosts of open mic nights.
ASCAP and BMI have hit owners of small coffeeshops and bars with bills ranging from $350 to $6000 to cover “performance royalties.” Some have had to shut the open mic nights down, thus cutting off several fledgling artists from finding a venue in which to perform. Others have tried to get their acts to sign waivers stating that they will only perform original material. ASCAP has ignored these.

Here’s an incredibly arrogant and ignorant quote on the subject:

Vince Candilora, ASCAP’s vice president for licensing, says the fees are set at a “very good rate,” adding, “What gives anyone the right to use someone else’s property, even though they’re not making money on it? I can guarantee you the phone company’s going to charge you whether you’re making money or not.”

So… a band playing a cover song is like the phone service? Always on? Multiple lines? Phone companies bill for services provided. You’re charging the bar owner for what exactly? The music played? The instruments provided? The soundsystem? What exactly are you providing in exchange for this money?

Related: a nightclub owner in Vail, CO paid $40,000 to ASCAP because a band played 10 cover songs during its appearance. A real bargain, considering ASCAP originally wanted $30,000 per song.

Anybody who sings Happy Birthday.
Over 1% of the total money collected by ASCAP comes from this one song, arguably the most popular song ever. And that copyright claim they collect on may be completely bogus. But who needs facts and research when threats and intimidation will accomplish more in less time?

Bitches better have my money...

Bitches better have my money...

The Girl Scouts of America.
We can debate the propriety and taste of teaching the little cookie-pushers the Macarena, but really… threatening the Girl Scouts? A bunch of 8-year old girls who are now afraid to dance and sing… I hope you’re happy. Perhaps the lawyers will stop by and kill their pets while they’re away at camp.

In all fairness, ASCAP dropped the campaign to wring money out of a beloved American institution. But only after the public shaming. And what the fuck? Who greenlighted this action? If anything highlights the antagonistic entitlement these jackasses feel, this does.

And that just covers some recent stupidity from America. Here’s a very brief rundown on what’s going on in the rest of the world:

These actions mark performance rights groups as true bullies, never willing to go head-to-head with a comparable foe, but rather beat up on charities, small businesses and little girls.

You’d think that an industry so strained for cash would want to have as many people as possible exposed to their product. Apparently it would be easier for them if one person paid royalties over and over again via this business model:

  • Buy CD. ($10-15)
  • Play CD at work. (Pay public performance royalties.)
  • Play CD on car ride home with windows down and stereo up. (Performance royalties.)
  • Throw a little house party. Get new CD pumpin’. (More performance royalties.)
  • Sing a little of the CD in the shower the next morning. Whoops. Left the door open. (Performance royalties.)
  • Etc.

ASCAP continues its push, getting into bed with Congress (although, let’s face it, our representatives have all the self-restraint and self-respect as any “Girl Gone Wild”) in an effort to collect additional performance fees anytime a song gets played on the radio. This hypocritical gouging is covered in a delightful ironic sauce, as ASCAP and the RIAA have both been in hot water for paying the radio stations to play their music.

Awwww... a rescue shelter! Look at that dog with three legs! He's trying to jump. Awww... Anyway. Pay the fuck up.

Awwww... a rescue shelter! Look at that dog with three legs! He's trying to jump! Adorable... Anyway. Pay the fuck up.

Now the shoe is on the other litigious foot, and their favorite promotional vehicle has now become a sacrificial cash cow.

All that ASCAP will do is ensure that they and their lawyers get paid. Some of the top 5% of their stable of artists will get some trickledown (think U2, Rolling Stones, etc.) Those slightly below this threshold may see some tiny residuals. And everyone else gets jackshit. Nothing but fewer places to play and promote their music.

I haven’t sent one out for awhile but I think the time has come:

Fuck you, ASCAP. Fuck your ignorance, your false sense of entitlement and your abusive tactics. Fuck you just like you’re fucking 95% of the artists on your roster.

Stick it to the man. Play your music loud. Invite your friends over and play all the music you can. Promote your favorite bands. Embed their videos everywhere. Support your local cover band. Donate to your favorite charities. Buy Girl Scout cookies.



  1. Here in the jolly old UK, we have the Performing Rights Society (PRS).

    I answered the phone at work a few weeks ago, and was informed by a polite voice that the PRS wished to speak to the managing director. I told them that we are an engineering company who designa dn manufacture headlights for trains, and that they must have the wrong number.

    They reckoned otherwise, and pointed out that as we have a radio playing in our production department (how the fuck do they know this????) then we owe them some money , as it constitutes a public performance.

    I told them that I liked their sense of humour, and that they had brightened my day.

    They replied that they weren’t joking.

    I told them to fuck off and get proper jobs.

    I await their next call with interest.

    • I wonder who goes to work for the PRS. The mob all full up? “Not hiring due to economic slump.”

      “Man, that sucks. I guess I’ll go work for the PRS and shake down small businesses for some ‘music’ protection money. Makes me feel like a big man/woman.”

      They’ll probably send you a letter full of all-caps wording and exclamation points to show you how serious they are.

      Fight the good fight, Nobbly. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. […] and your abusive tactics. Fuck you just like you’re fucking 95% of the artists on your roster. The Stabbing Knife Vol. 1 – ASCAP « Fancy Plans… and Pants to Match   « If you go to bed and wake up thinking about how to raise money to stay in […]

  3. I’m watching to see your “fuck you” tag cloud explode.

    What happens when the ASCAP discovers you CLT? I can already see the dollar signs lighting up their beady little eyes and I can hear the Cha-Ching! sound when they blink.

    • Fortunately for me, I’m still in a relatively unexplored corner of the internet. It means smaller dollar signs and a muted cha-ching! but I’m sure they’ll eventually make their way here, after imitating Sherman’s March to the Sea, leaving behind the empty wallets of pensioners, nuns and children’s reperatory theaters.

  4. Perhaps this comment should of been left in “Nostalgia”, but I remember a time when being rich was enough.

    • Enough just ain’t enough anymore. Must be some dark primal urge. Like the irresistable pull of blogging. 😉

      Nice to see you, RR.

  5. Okay, I have posted my portrait of you on my blog…quid pro quo.

  6. Beautiful rant! Well done! and now I will hum loudly out my window “Dancing Queen” by Abba and see what happens.

    • Well, some legal threats are almost guaranteed. As is a possible random beating. Try to stay on the sunny side of the street.

      Great to see you here, Timm.

  7. Sorry, but I can’t agree with you on any of this.


    The Soulsavers are in the mail.

    Nicely done.

    • Thanks for the tunes and, of course, the complimentary (and complementary) dance wherein we disagree to disagree (in confusion).


      Great to see you, Alan.

    • Never mind the dancing. I had a sudden moment of clarity with some outside assistance. I know most, if not all of you are thinking good old drugs. But not this time. Not with Mom talking to Officer Vasquez right outside my house.

      Hmmm. The toilet doesn’t seem to be working nearly as well as it was a minute ago.

      Thanks for the compliments, Alan, which, of course, they clearly were.

    • Ha!

      Sorry about the confusion on my behalf (“Confusion Confusion I Got a Contusion” is a song lyric that I just stole from my old band The Prophet Motive — and I defy them to come after me!)

      Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but sometimes the jokes don’t always translate well from my head to the page.

      It was a really great read.

    • Hahahaha… We’re on our way to building the confusion thread.

      Say, is that an errant goat wandering by?

      Let’s download it!

    • That’s just the Rolling Stone’s Goats Head Soup. Download it if you must, but they have a powerful and well-trained set of lawyers. Just ask the Verve.

      Besides, it has “Angie” on it and I’m ok with not really having to hear that song again.

      Let’s spin “Stray Cat Blues” or “Little Red Rooster” or “Torn and Frayed” or anything from Let It Bleed instead.

      And now we download. And dance.

  8. Sorry, but I can’t agree with you on Angie.


    Kidding, of course. The Verve, poor guys. I seem to recall there’s a bit more to that story. I think The Verve actally got legal clearance on the sample, but it wasn’t until it became a money maker that The Stones rolled in. That lead singer saying it was the Stones fisrt hit in 20 years probably didn’t help. Unless he said that after the fact. I’m not sure. But then again, the theme of the thread is a confusion contusion (at least, I think it is…) The main thing is if I ever need a best man to toast me, I know I can count on you.

    • It doesn’t matter when he said it. The important thing is that it’s true. Cheers, Rolling Stones! “Bittersweet Symphony” is certainly the highlight of the last 20 years or so.

      And as for the best man toast… I’m sure your riotous laughter at my subtle merkin innuendo will more than cover the footsteps of hastily departing guests.

  9. […] just never going to happen. So they force it, suing 14-year-old kids and 80-year-old grandmothers. They send out bills to Mom & Pop stores, cop shops, charities, animal shelters, the Girl Scouts,…. They browbeat or seduce your elected officials into legislating your rights away and otherwise […]

  10. That’s right! Fuck ASCAP! Fucking cocksuckers! I’ve never got a fucking penny from these mother-fuckers! I have music on the air from California to New York, and Minnesota to Texas.

    I called one of the worthless cocksuckers at ASCAP. You know what this cunt-wipe told me? “We only take a random sampling of music sir.” So, I reply, “And what the fuck does that mean?” “Well, sir, that means that we just take random samples of music from a small handful of stations, and that’s who we pay royalty payments to.”

    So, you are right! Let’s see, who are the bands that they make sure they “survey?” The Rolling Stones, and others like that.

    You mother fuckers at ASCAP! Cock-wiping bags of fucking dog shit!

    Also, fuck you Mark Palermo at ASCAP! You sell-out worthless dickhead! You’re the mother fucker that brought that scamming mother fucker named Roy Elkins from that dog-shit site broadjam.com over to ASCAP. How come? Because that dirty mother fucker Roy Elkins pays you off, you slimy maggot shit mother fucker!

    Bottom line: Fuck ASCAP! Fuck Mark Palermo! Fuck Broadjam.com! All of these worthless cocksuckers lie around in the asshole of the world!!

    • And there you have it: the 2nd-runnerup in the “What ASCAP Means to Me” essay contest.

      ASCAP fucks artists, plain and simple.

  11. Fuck ASCAP for endorsing this con artist bag of shit Roy Elkins at Broadjam.com !!!

    Contact the Office of the Attorney General in whatever state you live in and file criminal charges against ASCAP for fraudulently endorsing that filthy scum Roy Elkins at Broadjam.com ! Keep filing fraud charges against ASCAP until they decide to take this mother fucker Roy Elkins off of the ASCAP Social Networking Community site!

    Also, if you’ve been fucked in the ass by this bag of dog shit Roy Elkins at Broadjam, file criminal charges against this fucking prick for fraud too!

    If you’re a member of ASCAP, do your part and let the mucky-mucks at ASCAP know we are not going to take this shit anymore of that scumbag pile of hog shit Roy Elkins on the ASCAP Community site!

    This is for you Roy Elkins: Fuck you, you worthless pile of filthy dog shit! Get off our ASCAP Community site you con artist mother fucker!

    • Roy, if I were you, I’d start thinking about changing my home phone number. It’s not just ASCAP member that I’d be worrying about, but thousands of ASCAP members just like him.

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