There is also an imprecise side of how ASCAP does its work. The owner of the Bazaar Cafe has put a large sign on the wall, easily seen from the audience as the musicians perform. It reads, “ASCAP and BMI want my dough. If you play covers, out you go.”
Owner Les Wisner says he doesn’t want to pay royalty fees because he doesn’t trust that ASCAP can keep track of what gets played in his cafe.
In music business courses we were told that performance rights companies would send moles out to venues to bust venues that didn’t pay for those rights. Most places I’ve been to have no idea they’re supposed to do this.
According to this NPR story, ASCAP membership has quadrupled in the last 10 years.