ASCAP Targets Yoga Studios for Royalties:
You know that playlist you heard in yoga class that was lit-erally the soundtrack of your very life and existence? Yeah, you’re going to have to pay for that. Well, not you necessarily, but probably your yoga studio owner. Yoga studios have become the recent target of ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers which protects the rights of its some 500,000 members around the world. They are the musical licensing police when it comes to copyright infringement and playing music considered “public performance,” at say, a yoga studio where financial benefit is gained from such delightful musical accompaniment.* After all, yoga class playlists are the new MTV.
(*All relative, of course. We know some people can’t stand music during yoga.)
Apparently, ASCAP found out about yoga studios using music to enhance their classes (who knows how! can we blame this on The xx?) and have taken action by sending out letters asking for royalties, which are based on number of students (ie. ears) and are usually intended for “dance schools.” We could all go on until the cow facing poses come home about how yoga studios are not dance schools, and in fact, NY yogis have been debating that for years. But, luckily (we think) since ASCAP started making a fuss about this, there was some push-back — even Yoga Alliance got involved — and now they’re making some adjustments to the rules.
“Put yourself in the shoes of a songwriter,”says Vincent Candilora, Executive Vice President of Licensing at ASCAP. “You create a song and copyright it, and under Federal Copyright Law you are granted exclusive rights. One of those is the right to have your work publicly performed. That is your property.”
“We are in the midst of changing the way we license yoga studios,” says Vincent. “It’s really not dance, and it doesn’t belong there. The way we are looking at the yoga license right now is to create a ‘Fitness and Wellbeing License’.”
Where the dance school license rate depends on the style of dance and the size of the class, the yoga license looks to be much less complicated. “We don’t care how many people you have in your class, we want to keep it simple and inexpensive,” says Vincent. “We are toying with a rate of about $68 a year per studio.” Vincent says that they expect to have this ready to roll out in the beginning of May.
Not SO bad we guess. It’s the least we can do to thank the artists for so graciously/unknowingly contributing to our blissful efforts of attaining samadhi. Actually, that doesn’t sound like enough. Does Moby see like $.0004 of that?
So this would cover ASCAP, but they’re not the only ones representing music artists on the royalties front. You also have BMI and SESAC. Yoga Alliance’s suggestion there is to just pay them all.
“However, if you pay licensing fees to ASCAP, that won’t protect you from BMI and SESAC. A public performance without permission of even one musical work from within either company’s catalog triggers the obligation to pay royalties for use of their entire catalog. Furthermore, paying ASCAP may make it more likely that you will subsequently face demands from BMI and/or SESAC to pay them licensing fees as well. So the only way to eliminate all risk is to pay licensing fees to all three companies…”
The other way to get around all of this is to play live, original music or dig deep into your Beethovian back pocket for some public domain tunes. Call it “yoga with the classics.”