There are few things I love more in life than the music of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven. During a stint as the Arts editor at my undergrad student paper, I once drove our editor-in-chief half mad by commandeering the office stereo and playing Cracker’s masterpiece Kerosene Hat nonstop for an entire month. (I also managed to get Cracker named the paper’s official band, over the E-i-C’s strenuous objections. Democracy’s wonderful when you’re good at vote counting and taking your opposition by surprise. Good times.)
So I couldn’t help but link to Camper’s announcement for their shows this weekend in California (they’re also hosting a weekend festival in Virginia June 17 and 18) weekend shows. Especially since, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it fits so well with much of what I cover here in the Orangespace.
Free Pony Giveaway. This weekend’s shows
You realize I’m joking right? No free pony giveaway. I mean we were really ready to do it. Give away a free pony to everyone that came to this weekend’s shows. But apparently there are problems with doing something like that. ASPCA and ASCAP both had a problem with pony giveaways. I mean I understand that the ASPCA having a problem with the free pony giveaway. But ASCAP?
Apparently The American Society of Composers and Publishers wants us to pay a performance royalty of 2 cents for every whinny that each “free” pony emits over it’s estimated lifetime of 27 years. They have that calculated at approximately 571,590 whinnies per pony over it’s lifetime. This comes to $11,431.80 for each pony. Given the fact that we are expecting over 250,000 people at each show this weekend this would come to a grand total of $8,573,850,000 (perhaps a little lower as people who attend more than one show might refuse a second or third free pony).
Some of you may be wondering exactly how did ASCAP come to control the rights to a pony’s whinny? It’s a long and interesting story. Apparently most pony’s whinnies are more than 8 notes long. This means they can be copyrighted and “published” as a melody. It turns out that in the early 1990s when Michael Jackson bought the rights to The Beatles catalogue he also had a team of UCLA musicologists catalogue, notate and publish every known horse whinny including the rare greenlandic horse’s “Ed McMahon” whinny. As this was a work “for hire” Michael Jackson’s estate now controls the rights to every public performance of a horse whinny. Michael Jackson’s estate then assigned these rights to ASCAP to administer.
Although your gift horse’s whinny in your own home might seem like a private performance it is not! Because the horse was gifted to you at a public concert all subsequent whinnying is considered the “fruit” of the original public performance. This has been challenged twice in the US supreme court and each time the Supreme court upheld it in an 8-1 ruling. Justice Ginsburg dissented both times. (see The Osmonds vs Sony/ATV 1996 and Mattel vs Sony/ATV 2004).
**final note. That nearly soundless a-a-a-a-a-ack-ack ack that your cat makes while looking at birds through a window is also controlled by the Michael Jackson estate. Our attorneys have advised us not give away free kittens either.