According to Chain Leader, Bruce Springsteen is suing a bar in New York for allowing bands to cover his songs without paying a licensing fee to ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), who in turn are supposed to be paying out a proportional royalty fee to the artists.
This is a bunch of bull for several reasons. Certainly not because artists shouldn’t profit from their songs, but because this system is so haphazard and enforced so randomly. Big cities like Baltimore are more likely to have a restaurant/bar that gets sued than a country restaurant/bar. Not because they have more patrons — a restaurant/bar in Fells Point or Federal Hill is sharing the crowd with competitors up and down the street. A country restaurant in say, Garrett County or over in West Virginia which features live music is more likely to be the only game in town. Their crowds are like New Year’s Eve every weekend. The whole county/town turns out. I don’t imagine very many artists’ agents sneaking into a place way out on Rt. 40 — where either “everyone knows your name” or you get your ass kicked.
Also, I know several artists who are registered with ASCAP, who have songs covered by other bands, and they’ve never seen a dime.
The other unfair aspect is that there are so many restaurant/bars which claim they’re all about original music — so they avoid paying ASCAP fees — but it’s all wink-wink, nudge-nudge as the bands all strike up “Freebird”.