After months of silence, is bringing back the noise.
Among the few free local venues for live music, the coffee shop was one of several in the East Bay hit earlier this year with licensing fees from performing rights organizations — agencies that collect royalties on behalf of artists from venues where copyrighted music is performed or played.
Unable to pay the fees, coffee shop proprietor Paddy Iyer discontinued live music in March after providing local talent with a stage for more than eight years.
But over the weekend, Iyer announced on his blog that “enough is enough”
“What we failed to grasp was the gravity of our decision,” Iyer wrote on his blog. “Venues for the youth simply dried up or shut their doors because of the fear of lawsuits and what have you from the music industry. Almost all the cafes and coffee houses in the local area simply stopped hosting musicians and open mics.”
With the support of the community, live music will soon return to Paddy’s to once again fill that void.
Local artists are banding together for the Paddy's Pay the Music Industry Fundraiser Open Mic, which will be held at a yet unannounced date to help pay the business’ licensing fees.
The whole ordeal began late last year when multiple performing rights groups began asking the business to pay licensing fees.
Iyer was already paying Broadcast Music, Inc. a $350 annual fee when the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers told him that he owed them money as well.
In March, ASCAP threatened legal action if Iyer did not pay up or stop the music. In order to pay ASCAP, he would have to charge admission or a rental fee for the space, which were both out of question for Iyer and against his open-door philosophy, he said. As a result, he was forced to stop all live musical performances.
After six months without live music and a growing demand from the community, Iyer decided to host an open mic last month limited to original material only. But ASCAP again ordered a cease and desist because there was no guarantee that copyrighted songs would not be performed, he said. The show was cancelled.
That’s when Iyer drew the line.
“Our philosophy is, was and will always be to support the neighborhood. And here we were, cancelling an event,” he said.
Frustrated with the situation, Iyer contacted performers to see if they would be interested in holding a fundraiser.
“The response was phenomenal and, truthfully, we were extremely emotional at the outpouring of support,” he said. “We are glad to put this issue behind us.”