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The Clown Mixtape

Discussion in 'Variety and Street Performance' started by LarryTheClown, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    I recently got the responsibility for driving our Clown Van in a parade. First things first, I decided to update the mixtape. (And it was an actual mixtape, too. The van is so old that we only have a cassette player in the dash.) The van is equipped with external speakers, so the crowd does hear what you're playing.

    Anyway, here was my playlist:
    1.) Entry of the Gladiators - an obvious choice, but I figured it gets the crowd in the mood for clowns
    2.) Pharell's Happy song - this turned out to be an awesome pick as it got the crowd clapping along during the chorus
    3.) Punchinello - another circus standard, one of the handlers started miming a march (as that's how the beat is structured)
    4.) Macarena - while I'm not really a fan, and I personally think this song is old, it was basically the one song on the previous playlist and thus sort of our song. Plus, people do seem to remember the moves --- even moreso now that the 90's retro revival is in full swing.

    The rest of the playlist is filled with random instrumental Disney tunes, but I really would love to add contemporary tunes that are kid-appropriate and the crowd can dance to.

    Any suggestions?
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  2. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Be aware of the fact that you are not legally allowed to play music for the public without a license from the owner of the songs/music. If you want to play music, you must pay the royalties, find royalty free music, or compose your own.
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  3. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    Hmmm... OK, thanks. The comment had me looking at the internet at what is and isn't allowed, and while it's a little murky as to what is allowed under public free performance (apparently internet radio is OK, CD's are not OK... but nothing clear on audio tapes, since the CD issue only covers digital music).

    Still, the more prodent choice seems to work in public domain performances. (I'm guessing that Entry of the Gladiators and Punchinello are still fair game, what with their composers being dead for over 50 years.)

    EDIT: Doing another internet search, Audio Jungle does seem to have a pretty good selection of royalty free music, including a decent version of Entry of the Gladiators! Not full orchestra, but I doubt the kids would mind. Also decent picks: Circus Waltz, Magical Waltz, and Circus Clown. I figure I can just loop these four for a decent parade route mixtape.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
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  4. tim

    tim Have red nose, will travel

    Anything pre 1923 is public domain, and starting in a couple of years, music after that will progressively become public domain, year by year, also. (95 year rule.) More recent stuff might not be. There are ways around this, though. For instance, if certain chords are changed through the song, it becomes something different. And you can copyright a melody, but not necessarily the chords. Jazz artists used to do this all the time, back in the day. A fair number of standards are essentially new melodies placed upon the traditional chords of another hit.

    Royalties are an odd thing, though. In many cases, it can be practically reasonable to just go ahead and use something, especially if there is no profit (such as in a parade) involved. If, however, one is using a key piece of music in a regular pro profit endeavor, it may be best to see what one has to do to be fully legal.
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  5. LarryTheClown

    LarryTheClown Well-Known Member

    I did a little more digging into this. It looks like there might be an exception for non-commercial organizations (which we are), though there's probably still a restriction over playing anything at full length. From CMS Impact :

    So it sounds like we should be fine if we only use short clips of our music. However, even that is apparently not guaranteed, as some artists have been going after people online (who are not using their music for profits at all) for using something as short as 8 second clips.

    Fair use is fun.
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  6. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    The public domain would be related to the lyrics and melody. A band's performance of a piece of music that is public domain might still have a performance copyright. Since there probably isn't a lot of recorded music from pre 1923, anything recorded might be an issue. Now, if you wanted to record your own version of the music...

    I have had issues uploading things to YouTube such as clown skits that use music. YouTube has an excellent ability to identify audio and match it to the source. The methods I have found that work in this case is to either mix in another audio track so that there are two overlapping music pieces playing. Another approach has been to alter the speed of the audio track so it is 10% faster or slower than the source recording. Both work for instrumental pieces, not so well with songs unless you want it to sound like the Chipmunks.
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  7. The NORMAL One

    The NORMAL One Active Member

    Would these rules applied to our acts also. I guess it might depends if we are making money. How does it works when doing benifits. What is needed to prove you purchase the songs.
  8. Sir Toony Van Dukes

    Sir Toony Van Dukes Well-Known Member

    Legally, it is my understanding that it doesn't matter what type of event if it is a public performance. Buying a copy of a CD or paying to download a song from iTunes doesn't give permission to play it in public. You need to license it.
  9. sillydaddyatl

    sillydaddyatl Member

    I played in bands for a long time, and I've also done a lot of work in broadcast in the past so I'm fairly familiar with a lot of the legal stuff regarding recorded music.

    Sir Toony is correct, purchasing something from iTunes or in a record store doesn't grant you permission. You need a license.

    For public performance, most venues have a license with performing rights organizations to cover playback whether it's a band performing or music through ceiling speakers. And by "venue" this could be anything from a traditional theater to a restaurant or banquet hall or even community center. Just look for ASCAP, BMI, and/or SESAC stickers.

    A parade is new territory for me, though. I would check with the parade organizers and see if they have any kind of licensing in place for music with any of the performing rights organizations. I would guess most smaller, local parades don't, but you never know. At the same time I wouldn't be surprised if the bigger city parades do have something in place.
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