What nots of a former coffee house guy

Welcome to random bon mots from a guy that used to own the best darn coffee house in Union City, CA

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Music flowing at Paddy's

We are both happy and sad to state that we will be resuming music at Paddy's again. Happy because the local youth finally have a place to come back to play their music. We mentioned a few months ago that we would discontinue any further shows at Paddy's, because of the asinine financial and threatening demands from the music industry.

And yes, we were true to our beliefs and we stuck to it. What we failed to grasp was the gravity of our decision. 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.

The straw that broke the camel's back,so to speak, was our decision to host an open mic last month. We strictly informed all the performers that their performances would have to be originals, no hint of cover etc. In essence, we asked them to be as creative as possible. Lo and behold, the morning of the show, we got calls and emails asking us to cease and desist unless we pay up. Our arguments and pleadings against it fell on deaf ears. Their stand was simple, we cannot be guaranteed that there will be no cover copyright songs performed, so you are in the dock for money.

It really, really hurt us but we were left with no recourse but to cancel the show. The disappointment that was felt by the hosts was minute compared to the anguish we suffered. Our philosophy is, was and will always be to support the neighbourhood. And here we were, cancelling an event.

Emails, letters, phone calls continued from the music industry. It became unbearable. Finally, we capitulated and said enough is enough. The industry is asking us to fork out an arm and leg to continue performances. With that as a backdrop, we contacted all the performers to have a fundraiser for us to pay the industry. The response was phenomenal and truthfully, we were extremely emotional at the outpouring of support.

So, with that said, we are now having a Paddy's Pay the Music Industry Fundraiser Open Mic night, with your own neighbourhood kids rallying around and performing and raising funds for us. Please, please help us in our fundraiser drive, so we can pay the industry and not stifle the talent of the youth.

We never made any money hosting the youth for their shows, we never charged the youth for hosting their shows, au contraire, we donated to their cause or bought their wares etc, but the industry does not see the benevolent side of humanity. In their words, one of the performers played a Paul McCartney song, and thus we are liable to pay him.

We are glad to put this issue behind us. We do not condone the industry seeking their just dues, but we do condone their apathy in understanding the culture of an establishment and not paint everything in a broad brush.


  1. That's the tension we live in here in the u.s. of a. The benefits we enjoy come at a price. Freedom isn't free and folks need to be paid for their God given gifts. I concur that the industry paints a broad brush in the name of efficiency and likely profit. Everyone has a hand out. I'm glad you caved though. Your heart is right. - ben

  2. Thank you for your kind words. We do not condone the musicians seeking their just dues, but as we mentioned, the approach leaves an extremely bitter taste in the mouth.

  3. Just so you know, cease and desist letters have no force of law. They're simply threats. Until someone decides to bring a formal lawsuit against your coffeehouse, they have no weight. And to bring a lawsuit against you that would be worth any of their time, they would need to demonstrate that they have lost significant amounts of money via the performance of cover songs at your establishment.

    Also, the argument--on their behalf--that they can stop the show because someone "might" perform a cover song is ridiculous, illegal, and has no basis in any law. They would need to demonstrate, for a lawsuit to occur, that someone actually played the cover song--which you can easily prevent by requiring all contributors to an open mic to sign a waiver stating all music they perform is their own. Then the burden is on the performer to be honest, not you.

    There are other solutions to this besides paying the industry, which is full of jerks who care only about money and not community or art. I don't think you should pay their dues just because they've threatened you. I love your coffeehouse, I've attended several shows there, and even performed some of my own (yes, my own) work there. Please stand up to these professional bullies.

  4. Paddy and Anonymous,

    I cannot understand your lack of support for the original artist who wrote the music and lyrics. The artist should be paid for their work and performances.

    To refuse to pay the artist is tantamount to vandalism and theft of the creative property of the artist. To advocate such views is an offense against the people.

    Artists who perform and do not pay for the usage of the song are beneath contempt. Those who encourage such lawlessness are not to be treated with respect. This is the attitude of the One Per Cent not the majority. Do not rip off the artist and the people.

  5. Anonymous,
    If you haven't done so already, it would be great if you would schedule an appointment to talk to Paddy in person about his legal rights. You sound like you are very knowledgeable and are possibly an attorney. Paddy has and continues to do many things for the community and this would be a empathetic move to give your services to him "in kind". Thank you.

    Thomas Clark:
    You must not know Paddy to speak such unkind and untrue words. He is anything but a rip off. Instead, he is one of the kindest, most giving people I know.

    A Loyal Customer and Fan