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Golden Rule for Booking Oktoberfest Entertainment
August 10, 2018

Every year I write about how venues should book their Oktoberfest entertainment six to twelve months or more in advance. What I haven't written about, however, is how important it is to maintain those bookings. When you book a polka band for your Oktoberfest event, that band is 100% comitted to your event. That means they are turning down all other offers they're receiving for the same date. If you decide to un-hire the band, especially on short notice, you put every member of that band at risk of losing income.

The Saturdays from mid-September through mid-October are the "New Year's Eves" for polka bands. Booking a band for one of these dates is like hiring a band for New Year's Eve. Likewise, cancelling a band on short notice for one of these Saturdays is the equivalent of cancelling a New Year's Eve booking on short notice. It's a major no-no. You just don't do something like that, because the band is not only losing the income from your event, but every event they've turned down while they were committed to yours.

If you need to cancel a booking, INFORM THE BAND RIGHT AWAY so that they have as much time as possible to book another job for that same date.

Universal Music Group Withdraws Ownership Claim to My Song
July 14, 2018

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was unable to collect RO (rights owner) royalties for one of my songs, because ownership to the song was being claimed by Universal Music Group, Inc. UMG's claim of ownership to my song was reported to me by SoundExchange, a company that collects and distributes royalties to musicians when their songs are played over internet and terrestrial radio. All of my songs are registered with SoundExchange.

Since I wrote and recorded the song claimed by UMG and never sold the rights to anyone, I immediately disputed the claim. SoundExchange attempted to negotiate the dispute, however, UMG did not relent. As a result, all radio royalties earned by the song would be held indefinitely by SoundExchange until the ownership dispute was settled between UMG and me.

I immediately emailed UMG with background information about the song, explained that I never sold the copyright to anyone, and asked them to settle the dispute by rescinding their claim of ownership. I waited several days, but UMG did not respond.

I then wrote a cease and desist letter and mailed it to UMG. Within a half hour of receiving the letter, UMG responded to the dispute by rescinding their claim of ownership to my song. [PDF copy of the letter.]

It is now up to SoundExchange to accept the dispute settlement and pay me my due royalties.

How UMG came to claim ownership of my song is a mystery to me. My guess is that a radio station somewhere along the way made a clerical error by reporting my song to SoundExchange as cover of another artist's song by the same name which is owned by UMG. When the song ownership went into dispute, UMG probably realized the song they owned by that name was not my song, however, assuming I was probably a typical independent musician who would not pursue legal action, they simply ignored the matter. When they received my C&D letter, they realized their assumption was wrong.

Had UMG not complied with my demands in the C&D letter, would I have taken them to court? Absolutely. They obviously have a lot more lawyers than I do, and the process would have been very costly, but this was a clear case of intellectual property theft. No one is going to get away with stealing a song from me. Recording covers of my songs is fine and even encouraged, but claiming to own them is a different matter entirely.

My View on Awards Considerations for Positively Polka
June 20, 2018

Since distributing my new album to DJs, fellow musicians, and other professionals in the polka music industry last week, I've been overwhelmingly requested to submit my album to various polka organizations for music awards nominations. I am both humbled and flattered by these sentiments, because I hold the opinion of my fellow musicians in high esteem.

My personal feeling, however, is that I create music to bring enjoyment to people – not to garner trophies. The only accolades that mean anything to me are the personal compliments and words of encouragement I receive from those who listen to my albums. Twenty years ago, I would not have hesitated submitting my music for awards consideration, but now that I've grown a little older, trying to win awards is just not my style. A plaque telling me my music is a winner may look good on a résumé, but it's not going to make my music sound any better.

One friend, however, brought up a valid point in favor of submitting Positively Polka for awards: I'm not the only musician on it. I have to admit, I never looked at it from that angle before. I am extremely proud of the talent that Abby, Mollie, and all the other vocalists and musicians contributed to my album, and I would never do anything to prevent them from receiving the recognition they so rightly deserve. So here is my official stance on the subject:

I will not personally submit Positively Polka for any music awards, however, anyone else who appeared on the album has my permission to do so, and I will support their decision 100%.

Having a Ball in Nassau?
June 18, 2018

I received this photo the other day. Can you guess who sent it? Here's a hint: It came from someone who was apparently decorating the dance hall with Old Style cans.

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