Are tribute bands illegal?

notINtheband

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Extremely small scale comparison disclaimer:
5 years ago my band was a regional act, had a couple albums out, and played a regular circuit in the surrounding states.
2 local guys covered one of our original songs, tagged us on social media, and did a great job with it.
I can’t ever remember a bigger compliment. Maybe if I was a member of the Stones I would have a different perspective. But from my window it felt damn good. And it goes without saying there was nothing lost or gained financially, so yeah there is that.
 

RockrGrl

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I got this from an e-book "Hack the Music Industry"
Music Copywrite law:
"The right to make derivative works based on the original - A derivative work is one base on one or more pre-exis1ng works. Some examples of deriva1ves are translations, arrangements, the translation of a book or an album into a motion picture, samples, and remixes. As a rule of thumb, a work becomes a derivative as opposed to a reproduti1on if it transforms, recasts, or adapts the original. For this reason, a cover song that does not change the composition is considered a reproduction, not a derivative."

****Edited****
I wanted to add the following from the same source:
"The right to publicly perform the work (composition copyright) - This right applies only to the composition copyright. It grants the right to publicly perform the composition. Any time you hear your favorite song being played publicly, be it in a TV show, on the radio, or by a cover band at a local club, the composition owner is being paid. The Performing Rights Organizations such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (US) are responsible for issuing public performance licenses for the composition and collecting the fees on the songwriter’s behalf. "
 
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swarfrat

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Extremely small scale comparison disclaimer:
5 years ago my band was a regional act, had a couple albums out, and played a regular circuit in the surrounding states.
2 local guys covered one of our original songs, tagged us on social media, and did a great job with it.
I can’t ever remember a bigger compliment. Maybe if I was a member of the Stones I would have a different perspective. But from my window it felt damn good. And it goes without saying there was nothing lost or gained financially, so yeah there is that.
The ultimate is having Weird Al spoof your song.
 

Matched Gripper

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According the the drum lawyer they are

“From a legal standpoint, any band can cover a song during a live performance, as a result of blanket licenses obtained and paid for by venue owners to performance rights organizations (PROs) such as SOCAN in Canada and ASCAP or BMI in the United States. In theory, every time a song is covered in a live performance, the original writers of that song get paid. So you can cover any song or series of songs you like onstage, and the venues and PROs will sort out who should be compensated.

With tribute acts, however, more is at stake. Not only are the tribute acts performing the songs of the original act, they are trading off the name, brand, images and reputation of the original act. In the legal world we call this personality rights or the “right of publicity”.

Here's another point of view from a musician/patent attorney:

"Tribute bands are covered under the same licensing agreements as cover bands and other live musical performers. These performances do not infringe upon the rights of the copyright owner when done with permission. The three major performance rights organizations ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, negotiate licenses for the use of copyrighted works and collect fees for the public performance of those works.

"A common method used by these organizations are blanket licenses, which involve pooling and licensing of copyrighted items in a single package which allows the licensee to use any and all of the items in the package as often as they wish. Blanket licenses permit tribute bands to exploit an artist’s entire repertoire without having to directly compensate or seek permission from the original artists. Owners of venues where tribute bands perform are required only to purchase blanket licenses. Blanket licenses serve to limit the expense and difficulty of negotiating licenses with various copyright owners. ASCAP provides over 100 different types of blanket licenses that vary in price, depending on the type of business seeking the license."

 

Matched Gripper

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A quick Google search revealed several tribute acts facing legal heat from, among others, Pearl Jam, Tina Turner and Zeppelin (which left an all-female tribute act facing a $40,000 judgement).

Anyone can sue anyone for anything. That doesn't mean the suit has merit. There are remedies for defendants who get hit with meritless lawsuits.
 

Matched Gripper

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Why is playing one artists music exclusive different from anyone covering any song? I love my tribute band. That being said, I'm not into doing the dress up thing in my band.
Quick question! Do you have to pay extra for that signature? [Runs for cover].
 

DanRH

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Quick question! Do you have to pay extra for that signature? [Runs for cover].
Not sure what you mean… unless you mean my paragraph under my posts. Ha! It sure takes up a lot of real estate, doesn’t it? By the way I did that because I kept getting asked what equipment I have. I do keep it updated.
 

swarfrat

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Even Weird Al asks permission.
Weird Al does so because he's a super guy. He's not legally required as parody is the most iron clad use. The big giants are flexing their muscles against legitimate fair use and doing a fine job of shutting it down illegally, but parody is still a free pass. I've heard stuff called 'parody' that was really sketchy - Weird Al is actually making fun of the song.
 

DrummerJustLikeDad

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"Only play your own music..."
That would put an end to many jazz groups, and most (if not all) symphony orchestras.
How grateful I am, that would never have been true for the highly original, prolifically creative Dave Brubeck.

I admit when filing through record albums years ago, I typically passed over Dave Brubeck Quartet records which consisted of Dave's affection for the founding bounces of old boogie woogie.

It was the Dave Brubeck Quartet records upon which the boys had developed their own hand-written originals that I was hungry for. All the odd-time signature, quirky counterpoint, and lyrical beauty that became Dave's hallmark. Nobody sounded like them. One reflected his own affection, which was nice. But the other was his own creation, which in turn stirred my own affection.

That said, his album Jazz at Oberlin, featuring nothing but standards, holds my esteem as the greatest live record ever, so I'm not completely deaf to new wine poured into old wine skins.
 

Matched Gripper

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Not sure what you mean… unless you mean my paragraph under my posts. Ha! It sure takes up a lot of real estate, doesn’t it? By the way I did that because I kept getting asked what equipment I have. I do keep it updated.
Yup! That’s what I mean! LOL! Enviable collection!
 

bassanddrum84

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For me my opinion is cover bands and tribute bands keep music going. Do you know how many times the band I’m in has played a song and someone asked who it was? A lot and then next time they see us they say thanks for turning them onto a certain artist. So with out them bands doing covers and tributes what would it be like?
 
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CAMDRUMS

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Genesis tribute act The Musical Box makes a point of declaring "Exclusively licensed by Peter Gabriel and Genesis." But then, they do get a nice review or two.

"The Musical Box recreated, very accurately I must say, what Genesis was doing. I saw them in Bristol with my children so they could see what their father did back then" - Peter Gabriel

"I cannot imagine that you could have a better tribute for any act. They not only manage to sound, but look virtually identical. It seems as though nothing is too difficult for them" - Steve Hackett

"It was better than the real thing actually. It was great, that was fantastic." - Mike Rutherford

"The guy who does Peter Gabriel is brilliant" - Tony Banks

"
They're not a tribute band, they have taken a period and are faithfully reproducing it in the same way that someone would do a theatrical production" - Phil Collins
So do you guys think Genesis gets a cut of their revenue in exchange for the exclusive license?
 

Houndog

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Not sure what you mean… unless you mean my paragraph under my posts. Ha! It sure takes up a lot of real estate, doesn’t it? By the way I did that because I kept getting asked what equipment I have. I do keep it updated.
I don’t see a list of gear ….???
 

bassanddrum84

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I don’t see how it could be illegal seeing how there’s a show on Hulu called clash of the bands and it’s all tribute acts. Pretty good watch.
 


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