Posts Tagged ‘streaming’

Artist Visa Updates, Force Majeure Clauses, Streaming Licenses, and Deep Thoughts

Thursday, December 8th, 2022



Performing Arts Division

December 8, 2022



> Artist Visa Updates <

> Force Majeure Clauses <

> Streaming Licenses <  

> Congratulations! <

> Deep Thoughts < 

Artist Visa Updates 

Current USCIS Service Center Processing Times

Vermont Service Center:

Standard Processing: 4 – 6 weeks

Premium Processing: 9 – 10 days

California Service Center:

Standard Processing: 2 – 4 MONTHS!

Premium Processing: 13 – 15 days!

  Most US Consulates continue to experience significant backlogs with regard to visa stamp appointments. Some have no interview appointments for 60 – 90 days whereas others are granting interview waivers, but with no consistency between one consulate and another. Please factor this in when making bookings and budgets. In other words, if your conductor isn’t performing in the US until April 2023, but has only set aside 2 days in early January when he can make himself available to apply for a visa, start looking for a guest conductor. Specific information for each consulate can be found on that consulate’s website…and except for citizens of certain countries, anyone can apply for a US visa stamp at any US Consulate.

  As of August 11, 2022, USCIS no longer requires petitioners to submit a duplicate copy of Form I-129 or a duplicate copy of any supporting documentation unless USCIS specifically asks for it. (Whilst I’d like to think this was to diminish the impact of deforestation on climate change, it’s more likely due to the fact that Sauron has discontinued his policy of allowing USCIS to toss its extra paper into Mount Doom.)

•  USCIS has issued a new edition of the I-907 form. Starting January 30, 2023, USCIS will only accept the 11/03/22 edition. There are no changes. It’s the same form with a different date at the bottom. However, accomplishing this critical assurance of national security required two filibusters, three Congressional hearings, and an armed insurrection at the Golden Corral in Bent Fork, Arkansas which dared to close its Sunday buffet an hourly early.

  Yes, it is still possible to obtain artist visas for Russians. So long as they can get to a U.S. consulate, there are no bans or restrictions on Russians. The challenge is that there are no US Consulates in Russia, some EU countries will not allow Russians to enter, and the EU won’t allow any Russian planes to fly over its airspace. So, they just need to get to a consulate. If they are already in the EU, then they get to face the same visa insanity as everyone else.

Legal Issue of the Month:

Force Majeure Is Not The Same as Cancellation

If an engagement contract contains no option for cancellation or termination, then it cannot be cancelled or terminated without mutual consent. Otherwise, whichever party cancels will be in breach and potentially owe damages to the other party. Parties can always negotiate cancellation clauses under which either party can cancel an engagement under certain circumstances and by paying cancellation fees; but, if they don’t, they remain forcibly conjoined.

However, Force Majeure/Acts of God clauses are something different. These are contract clauses which say that if something happens beyond the control of either party (typically, fire, flood, illness, royal demise, etc.) which makes it impossible for one of them to honour the contract, then that party can void the contract without owing damages or fees to the other. In other words, whereas a cancellation clause may require a party to pay bail to cancel a concert, a Force Majeure/Act of God clause is like a “get out of jail free card.”

Parties can use a contract to define exactly what constitutes Acts of God (ie: a hurricane as opposed to a backed up toilet, illnesses supported by a doctor’s note, etc.). However, because of COVID, the economy, and genera insecurity, we are seeing more and more instances of parties trying to squeeze cancellation penalties or payments into Force Majeure/Act of God clauses. Presenters are claiming that poor ticket sales or lack of funding should be considered God’s fault whereas artists are claiming that if even if the concert hall is overrun by zombies, they are entitled to non-refundable deposits and penalties if the venue cancels. While parties should take every opportunity to explore and negotiate cancellation clauses with as many draconian conditions as they could possibly want, these are not Acts of God/Force Majeure clauses.

Why is this anything other than a miniscule, legalistic subtlety? Because if a party cancels an engagement contract because of a legitimate inability to present the engagement that could not otherwise have been foreseen, a court will not enforce penalties or damages regardless of what the contract says. Moreover, most state and local municipalities (particularly colleges and universities) are prohibited by State Law from having to pay non-refundable deposits or fixed cancellation fees, regardless of the reason for the cancellation. So, like everything else, if you believe the only force that separates your orchestra from insolvency is divine intervention, you’re going to need to talk this one through.

Dear Law & Disorder:

Actual Questions we get asked and the answers people don’t want! 

Streaming Rights & Licenses

Dear Law and Disorder:

We have two questions with regard to live streaming some of our concerts and recitals. We, of course, have paid the ASCAP and BMI licenses/fees to cover the rights for live performances. Does paying those licenses for live performances also cover streaming the concert live? The other issue involves archiving the recordings of the concerts, or leaving them on the website for a time after the concert so patrons (e.g., parents of students or any other interested parties) can view the concert at a later date if they had a conflict the day of the original concert and were unable to watch it live. Would this practice also be covered by the licenses or fees we’ve already paid? Is this a grey area in which the law has not yet caught up with the technology, or would this practice be a violation of copyright?

ASCAP and BMI are two of the many Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) which issue licenses to present live performances. Whilst some licenses for live performances also cover the right to stream the concert live, others do not. As with all rights, you only get what you ask and/or pay for. So, if your license also included the right to stream live concerts, then your license covers that. On the other hand, if you only paid for live concerts, then it does not. You need to check the license terms and agreement you received from ASCAP and BMI. (However, not all composers/songwriters below to ASCAP or BMI, so you may need licenses from other PROs as well.

With regard to the issue of “archiving the recordings of the concerts”, the good news is that it is not a grey area at all. The bad news for you may be that it is not a grey area at all. Making any audio or audio/visual recording of a concert is not covered by PROs at all. Such rights must be obtained from the performers and, unless they are performing their own, original music, the right to record the music must be obtained directly from the composer/songwriter or their publisher. There is no “inherent right” to make a recording of any performance or composition at any time under any circumstances for any purpose without the permission of (a) the composer/songwriter of the music and (b) the performers themselves.


It is with exhilarating enthusiasm that we congratulate Monica Felkel, a legendary icon of the classical music and performing arts industry, on the establishment of her own boutique management and consulting firm.

Monica Felkel Creative Partners provides Artist Management, Artistic & Strategic Consulting, and Project Management & Development.


“Everything we do is guided by a passion for classical music and the performing arts and a commitment to providing each artist and cultural institution with the support, guidance, expertise, and innovation they need to achieve their artistic goals and aspirations.”
Monica J. Felkel, President

We look forward to working with her and her distinguished roster of creative partners in offering her clients a comprehensive range of services and expertise unparalleled in the field.



Deep Thoughts 



“Everyone seems normal, until you get to know them.”



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GG Arts Law provides a comprehensive range of legal services and strategic support for the performing arts, including: Artist Visas, Taxes, and Touring; Rights & Licensing; Negotiations & Representation; Contracts; Business & Non-Profit Organization & Management; Project Management; and Strategic Consulting & Planning.




The purpose of this blog is to provide general advice and guidance, not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney familiar with your specific circumstances, facts, challenges, medications, psychiatric disorders, past-lives, karmic debt, and anything else that may impact your situation before drawing any conclusions, deciding upon a course of action, sending a threatening email, filing a lawsuit, or basically doing anything that may in any way rely upon an assumption that we know what we are talking about or one size fits all!



Monday, June 15th, 2020

(Understanding Streaming Rights)

As we all try to figure out how to cobble the performing arts world together, more and more venues, presenters, and artists are turning to streaming–live streams, virtual performances, and showing archived footage of previously recorded concerts.

For now, these efforts are critical as a means to stay connected with audiences. Soon, these will need to be turned into additional revenue streams as well. Regardless, this is unchartered territory for many, particularly with regard to the rights and licenses necessary to stream performances and recordings.

But first things, first: We need to clear up a few definitions.

“Streaming” is where you upload a recording to a source or platform so that it can be heard or watched by an audience over the Internet. While this can be done through your own website or server, most recordings and videos are viewed through a third party platform such as YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook, Vimeo, SnapChat, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, TikTok, RiffRaff, Taffeta, Titipu, KoKo, PishTush, PoohBah, and YumYum, among others.

Don’t be confused by the terms “Streaming” and “Live Streaming.” They mean the same thing. Remember, there is no standard terminology in the performing arts industry. Whether you intend to stream an archival recording of a performance, create and stream a new recording made in a studio or venue, broadcast a live concert to an audience who can watch it in real time as it is taking place, make a recording available for free, or make a recording available on-demand for a fee, these are just various types of “streaming.”

The key distinction is that a streamed recording remains at all times on the platform for the audience to watch only through the platform and cannot be downloaded. Downloading is when you are able to take a recording from the Internet and copy it from the platform to your own computer or phone. Apple I-Tunes, for example, is a downloading platform whereas Apple Music is a streaming platform. Streaming is like listening to the radio in your car. Downloading is like buying the CD. Similarly, Amazon Prime gives you the option of renting a movie to watch for a fixed period of time or buying a copy of a movie to download and watch on your own devices.

Whether using an archival recording or streaming a live concert, Obtaining the necessary rights and licenses to stream a concert or performance essentially involves the same considerations and questions you would ask (hopefully) with regard to presenting any live performance:

  • Do you need a license from the owner of the music to perform the music? 
  • Do you need a license from the owner of the music to use the music as part of a musical, dance performance, or opera?
  • Do you need a license from the owner of the music to make re-orchestrations, new arrangements or significant adaptations?
  • Do you need a license from the owner of the music to record and stream the performance of the music?    
  • Do you need a license from the performers to record and stream their performance?
  • Do you need a license from the owner of the recording of the music to stream the recording?

Essentially, to get permission to record and stream a performance, you will potentially need licenses from three different parties:

  1. The Performer(s)
  2. The owner of the music
  3. The owner of the recording

Licenses From The Performer(s)

If your intent is to stream an archival recording, you will need to ensure that you had the right to make an archival recording in the first place and what you are allowed to do with it. This should have been spelled out in the initial engagement contract for the performance. If not, you will need to go back to the artist(s) and request permission to stream the existing recording.

If you are seeking to create a new recording or record a live concert for streaming, then among the other engagement details you will need to request permission from the artist(s) to record and stream the performance. Certain artists, particularly orchestras, may have union contracts or other restrictions (such as exclusive recording agreements with labels) that will not permit any recordings or streaming without additional licenses and fees.

Even if you get all of the necessary licenses from the artist(s) to record and stream their performance, you are only a third done. Remember, unless an artist is recording her own music, artists do not control the music they perform. So, just because an artist gives you the right to make and stream an archival recording of the artist or the right to record and stream a live performance, you will still need to obtain permission from the owner of the music to perform, record, and stream. 

Licenses From The Owner of The Music

Any time you intend to perform music at a live concert, you need permission to perform it (what I like to call “stand and sing.”) Except for instances of music being used as part of a musical, dance, or opera production, such permissions are most often arranged by purchasing performance licenses through Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, GRM, etc., when you purchase a performance license from a PRO, the terms of the license will govern what you can and cannot do with the music as part of the “performance.” Like everything else, nothing is standard. Everything depends on the type and terms of the license you purchased. These will differ from nightclubs to non-profit venues to schools to for-profit theatres, etc, so you will need to read your specific license to see what you can and cannot do and what additional rights you might need. However, here are some generalizations:

  • More often than not, streaming is covered in a performance license as long as the end user is viewing the recording on a platform licensed by the PRO, such as YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook, Vimeo, SnapChat or TikTok. Embedded, proprietary players owned by these licensed platforms (YouTube being the most common example) and embedded into the presenter website are also covered.
  • More often than not, streaming from the websites of colleges and universities (.edu) are also usually covered by the performance license.  
  • More often than not, streaming directly from the website of an artist, venue, or presenter is NOT COVERED without obtaining additional licenses. This is true of live streaming as well as archived videos of past performances. So, when in doubt, always opt to stream through a platform already licensed by the PRO.
  • Downloadable recordings are NOT COVERED. These rights need to be obtained directly from the owners or publishers of the music. Most PRO’s cannot issue such rights.
  • Performance licenses also do not cover the performance of music as part of a musical, dance performance, or opera. Those licenses must be obtained directly from the owner or publisher of the music. Most PROs cannot issue such rights.
  • Most performance licenses do not include the right to make re-orchestrations, new arrangements, or significant adaptations of the music. Those licenses must be obtained directly from the owner or publisher of the music. Most PROs cannot issue such rights.

Licenses From The Owner of The Recording

An oft overlooked concept is that recordings are separately, copyrightable creations. When a recording is made, it is owned by the person or organization that made, edited, and mastered the recording and NOT by the owner of the music which was recorded and NOT by the performer who performed it. (Believe me, this comes as quite a shock to composers and performers who presume that if they are on the recording then it’s also theirs to use.)  So, once you get all of the necessary rights and licenses to record and stream a performance, you will also need to make sure that you obtain permission from the person who recorded it—even if it is a volunteer or a member of your staff. In fact, especially if it is a volunteer. Short of children performing with fire and audience sitting on broken glass, volunteers are often the largest source of grief. (Ok, there’s also the board to consider, but I digress.)

A few final thoughts:

Everyone needs to obtain rights and licenses regardless of whether or not you charge a fee to watch the streaming concert.

  1. If you don’t know what rights you already have or what rights you need, always reach out to the performer(s), the owner of the music, and the owner of the recording. Never assume or just hope that someone else with do the “right thing.” The “right thing” is an extraordinarily subjective concept.
  1. Anyone can charge whatever they want to issue a license, or not charge anything at all, or refuse to issue a license for any reason. Everything is subject to negotiation as influenced by each person’s degree of largesse, munificence, guilt, desperation, fear, uncertainty, pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth.
  1. There are no special Covid-19 exceptions.
  1. There are no special non-profit or school exceptions.
  1. Everyone is screwed right now. No one is more or less screwed than anyone else. Everyone is going to need to compromise if we are going to survive this.

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The purpose of this blog is to provide general advice and guidance, not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney familiar with your specific circumstances, facts, challenges, medications, psychiatric disorders, past-lives, karmic debt, and anything else that may impact your situation before drawing any conclusions, deciding upon a course of action, sending a nasty email, filing a lawsuit, or doing anything rash!