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Friday, June 23, 2017

How to Plan Your Key West Trip!

  


A)

I have a saying about people who travel to the Keys and Key West “ The smart ones leave on Monday, and the really smart ones leave on Tuesdays, and late on Tuesdays at that! Leaving on Sunday, well, let's just say that's not the way to go. If someone leaves on Saturday, they need psychiatric care.

Let's look at the Tuesday departure. A lot of people will come here for one of the many events that are held over the year. Perhaps they are here for The Songwriter's Festival, MOTM, Hemingway Days, The Lobster Fest, Art Festivals, you name it. What do they all have in common? They all end on Sunday. With the events which are more spread out, take the Songwriter's Festival, or MOTM, where there are multiple happenings, they have visitors scampering about town running from place to place. They will see this event at 1 pm, another at 2 pm, yet another at 3:30, another at 5 pm, another at 7 pm, meet their friends for dinner at 8, someplace else at 9. They actually under the delusion that this is a vacation. The fact is, they are busting their ass twenty times more than they do the other fifty-one weeks of the year!

Most people leave on Sunday. What happens is that they go home completely exhausted! Yes, they saw all kinds of things, people, and events which truly enriched their lives. However, what they didn't do on their vacation, is relax. Instead, they ran themselves through the ringer.

Leaving late Tuesday afternoon, or evening makes so much more sense. If you leave Wednesday it's even better. Give yourself some time to decompress. Relax a little. Take some time for a stroll at night and smell the jasmine. Sit on the veranda of The Cork and Stogie and have a libation, watching the world go by, as the trade winds breeze through your hair. Sit in the garden at Hemingway's house and read one of his books that you can pick up at the small store there. Perhaps a day at Fort Zachery Taylor enjoying the fort itself, or the beach. Perhaps a Conch Train ride will fit your style? It's loaded with historical information!

There are loads of choices of things to do where you can just relax, and take it all in.

Remember: Rushing around is a mainland mentality. When in the Keys, do as the locals do.


B)

I'm seeing more and more people arriving here twice a year. They will come initially for an event, as mentioned above, but they will return for a second trip, solely for the relaxation aspect. They're back to smell the aforementioned Jasmine if you will. They don't have to be anyplace at any time. Additionally, right now in the summer, rates are at their lowest. Someone was telling me they were paying $139 a night. Other rooms were less and others more. However, it makes so much sense on so many levels ranging from the chill out factor to the economic factor.



C)

One of the interesting things that happen here is when visitors arrive into town, they will rush up to us, wide-eyed with exuberant and excited looks on their faces, arms outstretched, hollering like mad people “YES!!! WE'RE IN KEY WEST! LETS PARTY!!!!”

This, of course, is one of the things that one signs up for when they move here. All of us were like that when we came as visitors, to begin with. However, living here in a day to day life is different than visiting for a week. While it is different than visiting, I will say that I don't want to live any place else in the world! I used to work with a very intelligent and insightful guy named Andy Colby. Andy would say sometimes “This town will chew you up and spit you out if you're not careful”. Andy was right too. I lost track of those who left the islands with serious alcohol conditions.

Sometimes those visiting will have the go here, go there, go here, go there agenda. They need to relax! HA HA!

As for us, we generally pace ourselves. We live here. We have professions we need to perform at.

                                         Caribbean Club, Key Largo
D)

On rare occasions, people will ask us “Where do you go for vacations? After all, you live in a vacation destination”. I always laugh when someone says “Key West is so laid back”. Yeah, go to the two hundred block of Duval at midnight. That's Hell on wheels, out of control at 200MPH. That's not laid back.

What we do is head to the other end of the Conch Republic. That's laid back! Some asshole from the lower Keys started a rant saying that the upper Keys, Key Largo to Marathon, was just an extension of Miami/Dade. What a load of complete bullshit, and that's the nicest way I can put it. Key Largo, Islamorada (say Isle more ah dah), Layton... have the exact same amount of keys magic as the lower Keys. I spent thirty years hanging out there, as well as playing there and it's truly magnificent. There are loads of great places to stay. Ours is Sunset Cove, in Key Largo!

I always recommend staying a day or two in the upper Keys when heading to Key West! 

E) Whatever you do and wherever you go, be sure to get out on the water. Sunset cruises are the perfect answer. Inexpensive and not too time-consuming. Plus, they have open bars on them as well.





For the best 10 bars in the Florida Keys, check this blog from a few years ago!

http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-absolute-ten-best-bars-in-keys.html


Thursday, June 1, 2017

What Makes a Great Bar? The New Latitude 18, St. Thomas USVI






What makes a great bar, a great bar? Without a doubt, the people in the bar, patrons, and employees are what make up the crux of a great bar. However, it is the owner, proprietor, publican, whatever one likes to label the individual who holds title to the business. It is they who sets the standard by which said patrons and employees gravitate to. In this case, Rick Holmberg set the atmosphere of The New Latitude18 and made it a great bar.







Last year, April 2016, I was on a music cruise with Dani. Our first stop was at St. Thomas, USVI. Our good friend Jeff Lange, who lives on St. Thomas, had set up an afternoon for the group of musicians that we were with on the cruise, to play at The New Latitude 18. Naturally, we were looking forward to it!



We were due into port at 8 am, however at 4 am I started having issues with my heart. I've had issues for twenty years, so I'm kind of used to them in a way. On the flip side, we're not talking about a hangnail. When your heart is having issues, you drop everything, before it drops you.

I checked into the ship's infirmary and they stabilized my situation, however, they insisted I be sent to the hospital on St. Thomas when we arrived in port. I told Dani to go to the event at The New Latitude 18 and I'd call and join her when I was released.

Bottom line, I wasn't released. I had to see a cardiologist who wouldn't be there for two more days. I told Dani to go back on the ship and I'd come back via the airlines. She wouldn't have any of that. So what's next?

Well, the owner of the bar, Rick Holmberg, got wind of the predicament, I believe from our friend Jeff Lange. Rick invited Dani to use the band room, which was an RV, at no cost. Not only that, he chauffeured her back and forth to the hospital a few times a day, about a five or six-mile drive.

Understand, Rick had only met Dani a few hours before and here he was offering her a place to stay, at no cost, in addition to driving her back and forth to see me.

If anyone looks up the word “Compassion” they'll find Rick's image next to the word.

I met the cardiologist on Thursday, had a procedure done and was released on Friday. That's when I met Rick. As you might surmise, he came to pick me up with Dani.

When we arrived at The New Latitude 18, I immediately was in love with the bar. Very relaxed, on the water, nothing false about it at all. My type of bar.



I got on with Rick from the get go. I felt we were cut from the same cloth. We had a great conversation when he drove me to the pharmacy. He told me some of his past struggles and loss and I told him some of my own. Talk about fortitude, here is a bar owner that no longer drinks, yet he's surrounded by it every day.

That evening he asked Dani and I if we'd like to pay at The New Latitude 18 on Saturday night? He didn't have anyone scheduled. Of course, we would!




Again, here's a man who when the chips were down for us, not only put two complete strangers up for free, but also gave us a paying gig!

Here are two Facebook videos of our gig at Latitude 18






So, what makes a great bar? This is what makes a great bar. People like Rick Holmberg. The individual at the top sets the standard by which everything else falls into place. The patrons and the staff were all just marvelous. I recall talking to a staff member about our situation and how Rick came to our rescue. They smiled, shook their head and said “That sounds like Rick”. Everyone we bumped into all had fabulous things to say about Rick.





Today I learned that Rick is moving on to new adventures. I don't know what they may be? I've seen him traveling a lot in the last year on Facebook, literally all over the world. In a selfish way, I'm sorry he's moving on. Dani and I often talked about heading back to The New Latitude 18 and hanging out with him again. However, life changes for us in many ways. Rick is off on a new adventure and I am very happy and excited for him. It also may be good that he's off on a new adventure. The world needs more exposure to folks like Rick. However, I do hope in his travels, our paths cross again.

Rick Holmberg is one damn good human being.

Bon Voyage my friend!








Monday, May 29, 2017

Rebuttal to Harry T's Blog

Note: This blog required an edit while I was away. I was unable to do it on my phone but was able to revert it back to a draft until I got back. The edit has been completed, however, you may have already seen this blog prior to the minor edit. This was originally posted a month ago.Thanks. C.R.



Trop Rock is a musical genre wherein there is a lot of happiness and promotion of such happiness via its cornerstone of music. From there branching out to events, and local neighborhood support with fundraisers, cleanups, all by people who carry a smile and a very positive attitude.

Regarding Harry T's reply to my last blog, I attempted to post this as a reply on his blog, however, it went for administration approval .... and subsequently vanished.

RE:

Radio A1A Topic of Stinging Blog By Former Artist…


For starters, I am not a "Former Artist" I am very, very active, thank you.


Harry, let's start at the beginning of this. You put out a post in March which called Danny Lynn a “Beast”, a “Snake”, and a “Pariah”. As the thread evolved we found that the foundation of these comments revolved around ratings of an event we played, that you thought were issued by him a year and a half earlier. Regretfully, you never asked me back then what the source of those ratings was. You assumed that Danny gave them to me and your hatred started there and festered on after that, from then on to this very day.

The bile that you spewed out that morning was the antithesis of everything Trop Rock stands for.

If you'd like a refresher course on your post, here's a link for you:

 photo Screenshot 50_LI_zpsyexc1snq.jpg

When this came to light, a year and a half after it happened, last March, I told you that Danny, who had recently started with that station, had nothing to do with the numbers issued. As a station principal, you know very well that the numbers are issued to the station principal at the home computer of the station. The home base for what was Tiki Island Radio was in Pennsylvania. Danny lives in Tennessee. He was just a DJ who had gotten into the business a few months before. The numbers came from John Buskell, their station principal, in Pennsylvania. When I told you that, last March, you went crazy saying “... nothing you say will change my opinion of this pariah” and “... Good by... and good riddance to the whole rats nest y all share.”

As a station principal, you knew from the get-go that a station principal is the one who receives the numbers from the host server. This as is elementary for anyone in the internet radio business.

In your aforementioned post, you painted the picture that you were the good shepherd leading his flock of sheep down the road of prosperity. Your flock being songwriters and musicians. Really Harry? I really don't think you could be more condescending if you tried.

You also gave the artists and songwriters a, you're either with me or him, ultimatum regarding Danny “My passion for music dictates that I will not find a place for you”.

Giving ultimatums to artists? Really?



In your blog, you state regarding myself  I removed the blogger's music from Radio A1A programming. This was only done after the blogger refused to publish a retraction.”

This is just not the truth at all. Back in March, two and a half months before my blog was written, I informed you to stop playing my music on your station immediately. That was March 7th to be specific. My blog was posted on May 23rd.

Here's a copy:


  photo Teaford FB Conversation1_zpspczmqlcg.png

Additionally, I have never received any request for a retraction of my blog, from you or anyone else. Not from any of your DJs. Yourself, or anyone. Let's be nice and say that statement was a complete and utter fabrication. It has no base whatsoever. It never happened. Check your Sent file. You are making things up and they are not true.

Having said that, I would post a retraction on something if I had made a mistake. I've done that before. However, here there are no mistakes to retract. What I talked about was a post laced with bile and hatred. The bile and hatred post was a fact. It has no business being in Trop Rock. No, I will not retract it. 



You mention early that my blog was damaging to your station. Harry, what was damaging to your station was the unscrupulous and unethical way you conducted business, not me. What you were doing was by-passing what are legal requirements. You put forth a scenario where you gave the artists/songwriters a snake oil potion wherein it was presented that they wouldn't be given any royalties and that there was a disclaimer on your submission page. You said to me on March 7th “I welcome any test of this media concept. “. Please refer to the second link above to refresh your memory.

Well, that was then and this is now. What you were doing was wrong. Songwriters themselves have to clear it with their PRO. You have nothing to do with their contracts and a disclaimer doesn't mean diddley. You said you researched it thoroughly. In that case, you knew that very well from the start. You purposely set up a bogus system wherein you did not subsidize the songwriters. What you knowingly did was set up a deception.That's wrong Harry. It was calculated from the get-go as you said yourself, you researched it thoroughly and welcomed anyone to scrutinize it.

Therefore, you knew very well all the time that when you held an event that you were airing and a performer performed a cover of a national artist, you would run around, hands flailing in the air, hollering “No covers! We're not licensed for covers!” it was all theatrics! A big show. You researched it thoroughly. You knew from the beginning not only that they couldn't play the national artists, but likewise, you couldn't play that artist's original songs either.

To underline the fact that I'm correct, you yourself just got licensing after my blog was posted, not before.



Like the other stations mentioned, you require licensing, just like they do. You say it hurt you. Again, I didn't hurt you, you hurt yourself by trying to get around the rules that everyone is required to play by.

Regarding sponsorship: Fact: You have currently and have had sponsorship. You were taking in money and not paying licensing fees. It doesn't matter how much you take in, or the deals that you make with those who are sponsoring you. That's your business. However, by taking in sponsorship, you are a commercial enterprise. It's not like you're running a station for the love of music. As I stated in my blog, I wouldn't have an issue with that at all. However, you were making money off of it and you were not paying the songwriters and artists, as your fellow stations are. Frankly, you took advantage of the artists/songwriters. You used their efforts without compensation to make money for yourself. It doesn't matter how much, these are principals and ethics. You were not playing by the rules. The other stations have been. They have been playing by the rules all along. You, having investigated your entire concept thoroughly, knew this from the start.


Let's not confuse things. I support an all original song station concept. But if you are taking in revenue and inventing your own free fictitious playing field to play on, it's you who are taking the risk.

Again, don't blame me, blame yourself.


Regarding BMI/ASCAP/and SESAC: You say “The majority of our artists are not licensed or affiliated BMI/ASCAP songwriters”.Well, if that's the case, if you only play their material you don't need a license! That being the case, why did you now suddenly get a license after my blog was published? I suggest that only a hand full of the songwriters on your station are not with BMI/SESAC, or SESAC.

I also submit that you have only been licensed after I posted my blog, not before.

You also say “For a station with our current listener base, that is quite expensive and has not been attainable to this point due to limited income and finances”.

Not attainable due to limited income and finances? That alone says you got into something that was beyond your means and got in way over your head. There are servers carry licensing and stations pay a small monthly carrying fee. Other than ego, why didn't you go with that, if you couldn't afford a regular station?

You also say that I put the element of fear at your door. No. You put the element of fear at your own door by unethical deception, cheating, and dishonesty.

Additionally, by not being licensed, you put songwriters in a very precarious position. On the one hand, Tiki Man Radio, Radio Trop Rock, Beachfront Radio, and others are licensed and pay annual fees to do so. Yet, songwriters are expected to give his work to you and expect nothing in return, while the other stations are paying them royalties?

Also, there were no false statements made in my blog. I had to wait two months for BMI to give me all of the answers I inquired about. I asked I waited for all of their answers. I quoted BMI's replies to the questions at hand. I didn't make this up out of thin air. I did leave your station as a fictitious station and never mentioned your name. However, if you like, I'll give you the names of the people I spoke with at BMI's legal and licensing departments. However, they most likely will be inquiring on past royalties that you skipped out on the last few years.

You said my blog was carefully planned. It was. Had you never posted that vile, disgusting, evil, hatred laced, psychotic diatribe, the antithesis of everything Trop Rock stands for, about Danny Lynn, which grew out of a very disturbed psyche, based on incorrect information that was assumed, most likely none of this would have happened.

That day back in March, I received all kinds of posts and messages regarding that thread, and everyone said essentially the same thing. “Harry Teaford is really crazy!”

However, it was that which got me thinking. As I say, you were taking advantage of artists and songwriters. All I did was tell the truth about the way you were doing business. The way you were doing business you knew full well, by your own admission of having researched it thoroughly, that you fully intentionally created a deception. You were taking in money and not paying songwriters their due commission and on top of that, you were taking in revenue via sponsorship. The icing on top of the cake was that you were intentional, violating copyright law. Again, you yourself stated that you researched it thoroughly, so you knew.

It should be stated that I do not hold any A1A DJs accountable for any of the nefarious actions that you have perpetrated. I have no doubt that you fed them the exact same line of bullshit you fed everyone else.

Additionally, you have mentioned to me in the past, that you have several different parties who are interested in buying A1A. That was prior to your being licensed. Before you put the cash in your pocket, how was that going to factor in regarding past due royalties to the artists anyway, or sticking the new owners with a potential visit from BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP regarding licensing and past royalties that were never paid? Ethics?




Lastly, you started all of this the day you posted

A) calling Danny Lynn a “Beast”, a “Snake” and a “Pariah”.

B) Giving artists an ultimatum to artists and songwriters stating they were either with you or with him.

I will state right now that Danny Lynn is an honest, respectable, good, and very ethical man. You gave everyone the choice of being with him, or yourself. Someone who stoops to the levels that you have is one without ethics or honesty. Everything is smoke and mirrors with you Harry.

Trop Rock is supposed to be a genre where everyone is having fun. You, however, come with daggers of hate and deception.

Harry, you're your own worst enemy. Southernmost Castaways, Tom Sawyer Keyboard Advertising, Boondocks, ... names sound familiar?


By the way, Harry, Don't expect a Christmas card from me in December.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Internet Radio For Songwriters



Two years ago, on April 1st, 2015 I bought into and became a partner in The Cork and Stogie bar, A.K.A. The Cork, A.K.A the C&S, here in Key West. It's been a fun experience. Sometimes I have to pinch myself, I co-own a bar in Key West! Talk about a dream come true!

Every now and again, the Cork would have live music. As we understood, as long as it was original music, everything was fine regarding music licensing. Music wasn't often, maybe every few months, so we didn't think too much of it. When we played or, had others play, we all played our own music, so all was well.

Or, so we thought. We received a letter from BMI stating that we needed a license to continue to do so. I thought this was odd, so I contacted them via phone to explain that we were only playing original music.


I called them and spoke to them at length. As it turned out, what I was told, in signing with BMI, the author of any music registered with them, has authorized BMI to handle all of their royalties applicable for performance, radio, TV, internet radio, jukeboxes, and the like. The same holds true for ASCAP and SESAC, the other two firms who handle royalties.

They were very helpful actually. They explained that if I played any of my songs, The Cork and Stogie required a license in order to do so. It was irrelevant that I was an owner of C&S or the author of the song. If I was playing my song, lets, for example, say it was “Island Blue”, C&S required a license to do so.

In signing with BMI, I signed over the authorization for them to handle all royalty collections on my behalf. After all, as a songwriter, I write my own music. When signing with BMI, SESAC, or ASCAP, those royalties are assigned to them to handle. That's the job I've assigned as a songwriter when I signed with them. After all, like other songwriters, I'm too busy creating music to be dealing with royalties and payouts, that's why I, and all other songwriters, signed with BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC in the first place. After that, their rules apply. Also keep in mind that in playing my example song, “Island Blue”, a percentage of the royalty collected is theirs, so they have a vested interest.

Very important here! It also must be understood that BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC don't care if it's Chris Rehm, Dani Hoy, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Buffett, or Kenny Chesney. If their songs are being played, no matter who it is, a license is required, plain and simple. There are no exceptions. In other words, they view me, Chis Rehm, in the exact same light as they view Mick Jagger. There's no partiality whatsoever.

Doing due diligence, I investigated and found that BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC won virtually every single law suite they got involved with because they had the violating establishments dead-to-rights. Said establishments were playing BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC music and not paying the annual licensing fees to do so. The court views this as a theft. The fines that I saw started at $60,000.00 and went to over $400,000.00.

Internet Radio

I was curious how internet radio fell into this? Would it be any different? If so, why? I do know one station, Tiki Island Radio, just shut down because they couldn't pay the annual licensing fee.

One station, Radio A1A, makes a point of saying they can't play, say Jimmy Buffett, or Kenny Chesney, or other “name” artists, but they can play music recorded by people like myself. When I originally sent them my music several years ago, I was of the thinking then that it was just like playing my original music at The Cork. As you just read, I learned otherwise later.

That seemed odd to me? Why would a bar not be able to play BMI registered music, across the board, but a radio station is able to play some artists, licensed by BMI, for example, while being okay to play others? This didn't make sense.

Remember, in BMI's eyes, as far as the C&S went, it didn't matter if it was Jimmy Buffett, The Beatles, or myself. We're all licensed writers and that's how the rules standard are based. Why would it be different for internet radio? Also, bear in mind, any semi-serious songwriter out there making a recording will be affiliated with BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC.

As I am a BMI registered songwriter, I called BMI to enquire on all of this.

Here's the bottom line. If BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC is assigned to any writer:

Like a bar or restaurant, it will not matter if it's Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, Chris Rehm, Joe Schmoe, or Paul McCartney. All will fall under either BMI's, ASCAP's, or SESAC's umbrellas.

So, in other words, let's say you, as a songwriter, are playing a gig where a radio station is broadcasting it live. Should an employee, or management the internet radio station tell you that you can't play any covers because they don't have the licensing to do so, guess what? If you are a BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC writer, they can't allow you to play your songs either!

If they are not licensed, the only music they could possibly play without risk of getting in a legal bind would be by writers who are not with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. 

You, as a songwriter, have value. 




Never forget that, or cut yourself short! When you signed with BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC, you authorized them to protect your value and rights. They are doing exactly what you contracted them to do.

Again, in the eyes of BMI, SESAC, or ASCAP you are no different in any way from Paul McCartney, Jimmy Buffett, Frank Zappa, Jagger/Richards, or Kenny Chesney. If they can't play Jimmy Buffett, they likewise can't play you. I'm a BMI writer. According to BMI, in their eyes, there is no difference between myself and Jimmy Buffett as far as licensing goes. All BMI writers fall under the BMI umbrella. The exact same is true for those signed with ASCAP or SESAC.

I recall a particular internet station broadcasting a live event and when a performer started playing a popular song, the members of the station went running around, arms flailing in the air hollering “No covers! You can't play covers! Only originals!”

In short, this isn't the case.


If the station is not licensed, they can not play the artist on stage's music, much less, anyone else who's music is with BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC.

BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC are known as performing rights organizations or PROs. What they do is collect the royalties from radio stations, jukeboxes, live performances, and the like, for music played, then distribute them to songwriters, composers, and producers. This is one way how a songwriter generates income through their performance rights organization or PROs. This is one of the ways you, as a songwriter, make a living.


With that in mind, let's look at a specific situation and take semi-hypothetical stations, Radio Trop R, Tiki Radio, Beach Radio, and Radio A. Their real names changed slightly. So, Radio Trop R, Beach Radio, and Tiki Radio all pay their annual licensing fees. Their licensing is in order and their artists are compensated, so they are in good standing.

Radio A, however, doesn't pay the fees and are not licensed to play any artist signed with BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC. They present their case in saying they have found a loophole which allows them to broadcast without paying the annual licensing fees by calling it a promotion.





In other words, they claim to have found a way to sidestep the artists, so they are not paying the artists for the use of their material. They have a disclaimer on their submission page, which says that the writer foregoes any royalties the station would be ordinarily responsible for.

How can this be? Well, it's a situation of:  kind of, but not really.

Here's what BMI said about it:


As a songwriter, you are allowed to direct license to any user of music including radio stations.  BMI affiliates retain the right to directly license their music to any user of music provided that they notify BMI of such direct license agreements per the terms of the BMI writer and/or publisher agreements.”


In other words, while a writer can authorize, in this case, a radio station, to play their music with no compensation via a direct license, the only way that can be done is if that arrangement goes between the author of the music and their PRO.

Why is this? Because the agreement is between the writer and their PRO. The radio station is a third party, not found anywhere on said contract agreement. The fact that they have a disclaimer on their website means absolutely nothing.



When asked:

Can a station by-pass a license using a disclaimer on their submission page regarding submissions?”


BMI's reply was

If the station plays copyrighted music for which they do not have permission, the public performance of those works would constitute copyright infringement.”

Again "Permission" is between the writer and the PRO, not the radio station, and the Performance Rights Organization MUST be informed for authorization of the direct license to take place.

So, in simple terms, if Joe Schmoe's music is being played on Radia A and he has not notified his PRO, that he direct licensed Radio A, the station is in copyright infringement. 


The responsibility lies with the station to follow through to make sure that the writer clears it through the PRO. This is not the responsibility of the writer.


Again I reiterate, a very interesting and significant note: If any sort of release was actually ever granted, it would have to come directly from the writer themselves directly to the PRO, not from a radio station! The artist has to contract the performing rights organization. The radio station has no say whatsoever. 

A radio station has no say in a contract between an artist and the performing rights organization. If a station were to say “We have a disclaimer on our website”, they're case would be lost immediately, as they are not part of the contract between the writer and the PRO. 

Additionally, as aforementioned, the writer is completely off the hook. When asked the question:

Does the artist bear any responsibility if a station playing their music is unlicensed?”


BMI's answer was unequivocal, direct, and to the point “No”.

Licensing to be able to play your songs, is the sole responsibility of the radio station.

Additionally, the songwriter may need to have a separate waiver for each song they want to exclude royalties from, depending on their contract with their PRO. In other words, in many cases, each and every song would need a release sent directly in from the artist, from the e-mail address they have on file with the performance rights organization.

And finally, repeating in the aforementioned cases, the writer themselves must send any or all releases to the performing rights organization. So, if a songwriter has, say, three albums with ten songs each, the songwriter may very well have to send thirty individual releases to their performing rights organizations, depending on how their contract with their PRO is written.Bear in mind,  songwriters list their songs individually with their PROs. The Pros don't have albums listed, they have individual songs listed from the writers. With BMI they are alphabetical. 

Sending a direct release to the radio station is akin to sending your doctor's prescription to an automotive parts department that closed 20 years ago and is 3000 miles away. It's completely irrelevant to your contract with your performing rights organization.



It must be stressed that BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC are working for the best interest of you, the songwriter, per your authorization, as one of their songwriters who's interests they are protecting.

Going back to licensing, currently, the one way that Radio A could operate legitimately without licensing, would be if the artists they play were not affiliated with the three performing rights organizations BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC. However, as stated earlier, songwriters not affiliated with the three performing rights organizations are few and far between. Anyone who is even semi-professional is signed with one of the three. BMI alone has over 750,000 songwriters in their portfolio.





Having set that stage, why would a radio station not want to pay royalties to the artists, which are it's life's blood?

In this example what we see is a bit of a nefarious mystery. The artists spent their time and efforts creating the product. Writing a song could have months invested, in many cases. Yet, a station feels it can use it for free? As a writer, do you feel your time, efforts, and artistic expression is not worth a penny? What's a writer's time worth per hour? Then, there's doing the arrangements and the rehearsal time in getting the song down. When the writer is ready to start recording, there's finances due for studio time, producers, and additional musicians in order to produce the material. This can be a quite substantial investment. As a point of reference, my album “Shanghai'd and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” had a total production expense of $15,000.00 for ten songs or $1,500.00 per song. That was a big production for an independent artist, so figure around $500 - $1,000 per song is realistic for a well-produced recording. Again, don't forget the time and effort that went into writing and arranging it. A commercial radio station proclaiming they are playing your music solely as a promotion and not paying you for it is nothing less than a smoke and mirrors charlatan. 



Herein lies the definition of something being highly unethical. Radio A has had sponsorship from rum companies, a bail bonds firm, and a real estate firm, and are actively seeking more. 

Add to the fact that Tiki Radio, Beach Radio, and Radio Trop R pay their annual royalty dues, and hence, pay the artists for the use of their work. That's very fair and within the context of laws which govern royalties.

By not paying you royalties, Radio A is saying “You and your work have no value and I'm not going to pay you for it.”


All four stations encourage artists to send in material, naturally. What Radio A is telling writers is that they'll get great exposure on their station. They call it promotion. Songwriters will get similar exposure and promotion on the other three, the difference being that Tiki Radio, Beach Radio, and Radio Trop R pay the artists for the use of their music. Why doesn't Radio A?

In short, according to BMI, a station doing what Radio A is doing is:

If the station plays copyrighted music for which they do not have permission, the public performance of those works would constitute copyright infringement.”

By convincing the writer into believing it's a promotion, you're seeing the essence of the term“Smoke and Mirrors”. What they are doing is taking advantage of the songwriter. Mind you, Radio A isn't doing this as a hobby, or just for the love of music. I'll get into that shortly. 

While they are giving the songwriter exposure, they are not paying them for the right to do so, which they are required to do by law.

Let's say Radio A has a link on their website to the artists material at a retail outlet, such as iTunes? Great! That's fantastic. However, it has nothing to do whatsoever with A Radio being licensed and playing the artist's work on the station. That's a completely different issue altogether. If they are playing their music and not compensating them, they are stealing from them, plain and simple. In addition, Radio A has gone out of their way to convincing songwriters that what they are doing is legitimate, which according to BMI, it is anything but.

What it is, is entirely unethical.

Perhaps you may recall several years ago there were file sharing sites, such as Napster? That was a person-to-person web-based sharing of music wherein the artists received no compensation. They were stealing from the writers, artists, producers, and record companies. Both national and international courts stepped in and consequently shut Napster down.

What's happening with Radio A is quite similar in that, while not sharing artists material, like NAPSTER, they are utilizing it without any artist compensation.


It is not the case with Tiki Radio, Beach Radio, and Radio Trop R. They are licensed and paying their songwriters fairly.

While there may be those who view the lure of getting exposure without compensation, as the work of a snake oil charlatan, buckle your seat belt because it gets worse.


There are other stations out there who are not licensed. Those stations do this solely for the love of music. They are not in it for gain. These people are not seeking compensation via sponsors. They do it for the love of music. For many of us, myself included, in my opinion, that's a good thing. 

However, in the already existing exploitation of artists, what Radio A is doing, is utilizing that as a platform to make money for themselves!

While Radio A is not paying artists, via licensing is highly unethical, this goes well beyond that.

Stage two, the crux of all of this, is that Radio A is a sponsored radio station, taking in revenue via sponsorship.

Again, not only do they feel that you, the songwriter, has no value whatsoever and compensation for you is out of the question, but they are using your creativity, hard work, time, and money, to make money for themselves! Again, their view is, you as a songwriter, are there for the only reason, and that reason is for them to take advantage of you.

A) Radio A is not compensating the writers on their station, required under law.

B) Radio A is profiting, via sponsorship, from the use of artists uncompensated works they play on their station.

So, not only are they not paying the artists, but they are also profiting from said artist's works via sponsorship, and are actively soliciting for more. They do not share said income with the artists they are taking advantage of.


If not paying artists for the use of their material via licensing is unethical, how does this translate to utilizing said material for Radio A's own personal profits, with no compensation for said artists?

The word “unethical” is a gross understatement in this case. This is deplorable. Not to mention, highly illegal.

Meanwhile, Tiki Radio, Beach Radio, and Radio Trop R are paying their licensing fees and hence, the artists.



While they are playing by the rules, Radio A is not. What Radio A is doing, is running the artists over with a bulldozer for their own gain.

According to their website, Radio A is selling their lowest commercial spots at $240 a month, requiring a 13-week contract to do so. If we call thirteen weeks a three-month contract that equates to $720.00. There is a total of nine options available for both commercial spots and exclusive show sponsorship. The highest is the weekly 40 show costs $1,200 per month to advertise on, yet again requiring a thirteen-week contract, making a three-month sponsorship approximately $3,600.00.

None of the money generated by Radio A from these sponsorship programs is going to any songwriters, who's time investment, hard work, and financial investments are 100% what Radio A revolves around and is leeching off of. Sponsorship money goes on a one-way trip from the sponsor to the unlicensed Radio A's cash register.


From an artist standpoint, how do you see it? Stations like Tiki Radio and Radio Trop R pay you for the use of your work. Radio A is stealing from you and treating you like sludge. Why should anyone's music be exploited? That's exactly what Radio A is doing. They are taking artists music and making money for themselves off of it. They are not licensed and therefore, no artists can receive compensation through their performing rights organizations. There's no one hand washing the other here. Radio A isn't going to pay anyone but themselves. They make money off of your work which goes only into their own pockets. These are con-man charlatan ethics.


Why should Tiki Radio, Beach Radio, and Radio Trop R have to pay to play your music, while Radio A doesn't? If you haven't notified your performing rights organization that Radio A is able to use your material free and clear, Radio A is using it illegally. They are not doing it for the love of music, as a side hobby, per say. They are doing it as a commercial enterprise and the fuel they are using to power their commercial enterprise is being pilfered from the songwriters.

In March I notified Radio A that my music was no longer to be played on their station.

For that matter, for the last several years, they've played my music and I've never told BMI I gave them direct licensing.

What am I going to do? Compose around thirty individual song releases and shoot them over to BMI, so a station can knowingly use my material to make money for themselves, and exclude me? 

Meanwhile, the other stations are doing their fair play. If the other stations play by the rules and support me and every other songwriter out there, it's just not right.


I spoke with the legal department at BMI. I did not disclose that I was inquiring about any particular station, but rather an anonymous one. They stated that the songwriters in the case of Radio A, would not receive any compensation. They also informed me that the station needs to be in compliance. 

I thought about all of this long and hard before putting this blog together. Usually, I put a blog together in about six hours. This one actually took a couple of months. However, it had to be done.  I was back and forth with BMI Nashville throughout, and I will say that they all went way out of their way to help me. Particular thanks to JT! Everyone at BMI was very professional and a pleasure to work with! Thank you, BMI!!!




Here are three licensed stations who treat songwriters fairly and with respect. As you might expect, they are in compliance with federal law.






For information on collecting broadcast royalties, please visit













Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How Do You Get Into The Key West Song Writer's Festival?






A lot of musicians ask me how to get into the Key West Songwriter's Festival. A fair question as it's not only by far the largest music festival in Key West all year, but it's also the largest music festival of it's kind in the world!

As I'm very fortunate to be in it, I get the question very often. The fact of the matter is, the cards fell into place for me. Other than that, I really don't know for sure? What I can say is:

A) How I got into it.

B) General observations. As far as the general observations go, I ask that you understand that I may be 100% wrong on all of it, or I may be 100% correct. I also could fall anywhere in between. One of my strong points is logic and without all of the background information available, all of this is a guess based on the information that I have.

Some who have asked me over the years have been genuinely interested in being in the festival. Others have been either frustrated that they are not in it, or downright pissed off that they are not in it. One guy, a blues guy from the Big Pine area, about thirty miles up the Keys from Key West, was a complete jackass about it, and basically expected BMI to come knock his begging him to be in the festival. Guess what? That will never happen. BMI alone has a catalog of over 750,000 songwriters. He expects them to come to him? This guy was just completely unrealistic and refused to contact them. The nutcase not only unfriended me on Facebook but blocked me as well, after I took the time to explain that he needed to contact them.

The overall point here being, I had the complete gamut from the very sincere, to the complete, psycho wackos contact me about it. What I have found is that many don't understand the festival itself.

The gist of the festival is that BMI Nashville sends it's writers on a little vacation to Key West to hang out and play. They will send other writers here as well, but the majority by far are Country writers. After all, it is Nashville and Nashville is the hub of Country music. Having said that, those who write in Nashville are far from being exclusive to Country music.


How I got into The Key West Songwriter's Festival



To start, I was signed with McClure and Trowbridge Publishing Nashville in 2000. In doing so, they had me sign up as a BMI writer. Being in Nashville, they lean in the direction of Country music, albeit many forms of Country music


After I moved to Key West, I had my publisher contact BMI about being in the festival. I've been in ever since.

The key point here: My publisher is in Nashville and he knew right off the bat the person to contact at BMI.


General Observations

I don't know the inner workings of how this event is put together, nor do I care to know. It's not my business. I am very fortunate to be included in the festival for the last seven years and consider it the highest honor I get as a songwriter by being included! Thank you to all who have included me!!!

However, if I was not in the festival and wanted to be in it, here are the things I'd look at, in no particular order and make my approach with these as a guideline.

  1. The festival is put on by BMI Nashville and local organizers here in Key West. What I was told is that the roster is put together by BMI Nashville. This being the case, there would be no point in contacting the local people. They wear many hats year round, the festival being one of them, and asking them questions only bogs them down and doesn't advance your quest. Go directly to the booking source.
  2. As BMI is the organizer as far as performers go, it's only natural that being a BMI writer is to your advantage. Having said that, I have seen a few ASCAP and SESAC writers in the event over the years.
  3. If you have a publisher, have them do the leg work. It's one of the things they do.
  4. BMI is not going to come to you. They have over 750,000 writers, if anyone thinks they are going to contact them, they might stop and ask themselves if they actually think BMI will contact the other 749,999 writers asking them if they'd like to play the Key West Songwriter's Festival as well. I had to get off my ass and make the effort. Anyone who wants to be in the festival must do likewise.
  5. There are over 230 songwriters in the festival. They come from all over the globe. New York, London, Los Angeles, Austin, Germany, Australia, but the vast majority come out of Nashville.
  6. BMI has offices in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Atlanta, and Puerto Rico. The Key West Songwriter's Festival is put on by BMI Nashville.
  7. I am currently dealing with BMI on help with information completely unrelated to the KWSF. I have dealt with four different people there, and everyone has gone out of their way to assist me and likewise been both very helpful and extremely pleasant to deal with. They have all gone out of their way to assist me. Customer service rating is 110%.
  8. From my perspective, if money is involved, anyone will give you more attention. If you don't file for your performance royalties, you're leaving money on the table and that money is yours! You've hired BMI (or ASCAP and SESAC) to do this for you. Remember, they have 750,000+ writers. They're not going to guess what you have in performance royalties. They don't have time. However, they are set up for you to list your songs so that they can pay you. It's up to you. However, I can't help but think that if they are paying you, it might motivate them to promote you as well by putting you in the Key West Songwriter's Festival? See links on how to file below.
  9. Again, the KWSF is put on by BMI Nashville. The majority of songwriters that come to the festival are from Nashville, and they are pretty deeply entrenched in Country music, for the most part. I can't help thinking that having Country music as at least part of your repertoire is a bonus? It's not essential, but I would think it helps.




Everything here is a guesstimate. I may be totally wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. On the other hand, it may just be a guide. It is based on logic and it does make sense. That doesn't mean it's correct, however. Use your best judgment and all the best of luck! 

Links on how to file for performance royalties:
Part 1
http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2017/04/songwriters-largely-unknown-benefits.html 

Part 2
http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2017/04/songwriters-largely-unknown-benefits_18.html





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