Hexagon Ditches PROs, Officially Becomes Non-Profit
Last October, a rumor circulated that the Hexagon, a small and eclectic arts/music space in Station North, planned to ditch performing rights organizations (PROs), i.e. ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. It turns out that was premature, but not inaccurate. This morning, a press release arrived from the Hexagon declaring that the collective has decided to discontinue paying yearly fees to any of the organizations—and ban all music licensed under the organizations from the space.
Given that the vast majority of songs out there fall under one of these three organizations, this should effectively end DJ nights at the club as well as cover songs. ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are exclusive in their administration of copyrights, so it’s still possible for musicians licensed under one of the three organizations to perform their own songs.
The release states:
The mission of The Hexagon Space is to provide an all-inclusive outlet for the arts with an emphasis on supporting local and under-exposed artists and performers. The collective believes paying these organizationss contrary to this mission and improper use of its limited
Starting in 2010, all material performed at The Hexagon Space must be original, in the public domain, or covered under Fair Use. Artists who have registered with a performance rights organization may still perform their original work since they retain the performance rights under the copyright.
If this is all Greek to you, a quick primer: To prevent abuse in the live-performance realm, artists frequently join organizations such as ASCAP. ASCAP licenses use of the songs to radio stations, clubs, taverns, restaurants, stores, and, really, anywhere else that song can be used to make someone—who isn’t the songwriter—money. So, businesses buy the license and get to use the songs in that organization’s catalog. And, theoretically, that money makes its way into the hands of the artists. But, if you’ll remember, that doesn’t necessarily happen the way it should. Frankly, when ASCAP, et al., go after a small DIY club like the Hexagon, everyone (including the artists) gets burned, except for ASCAP, et al. Hence, the collective’s decision.
The release also notes that the Hexagon is on the hunt for house music—the stuff you hear on the PA between bands. There’s a form on the space’s web site to submit.
Finally, the Hexagon has taken another major step and incorporated itself as a non-profit in the state of Maryland. This is a significant move on the rather difficult path to federal 501(c)(3) status, which opens the club up to tax-deductible donations and a wider range of grant and funding opportunities. Exciting news.