Tree House News – Weekend Performance Hours Curtailed and No Covers?

JohnS writes:

What?s goin? on at the Tree House? Well as always, there?s Christian Open Mic Night on Sundays and Thursdays, and secular Open Mic continues (for now) on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 with Johnny Miles. But things are changing a bit on the weekends. Performers will now play just from 7:30 ? 9:30 instead of the usual 8 ? 11pm. As I understand it, there may be a number of reasons for the change. The owners face a lot of problems keeping the business viable for extended hours, with the overhead associated just keeping the place open, and the late eves may not be profitable. (I?m curious to see how this pans out though, because my experience lately has been that whatever crowd did gather was often late-arriving.) Anyway though, I also heard from T.H. ?insider? Bob (I am not sure if he would be considered ?staff?, but he?s always around the place) that there were some other considerations. The shorter performance hours are also in hopes of encouraging artists to play more original music and less covers. How so? Well, playing two hours instead of three might allow performers to eliminate some of the ?filler?, i.e. cover songs. Uh, OK, but Why? Well, believe it or not, small coffee houses like the Tree House are actually required to pay a fee (hundreds of dollars per year) to ASCAP for royalties on performances of copyrighted material. So, technically it costs the T.H. for all those times Ben Garvey performs Beck?s ?Cut in Half Blues?. I would have been skeptical about this, but it?s not the first time I?ve heard about this issue at a coffee house over the years. I have not spoken to Randy or Tina, but that’s the scuttlebutt.
What do you all think?

Ben adds: The ASCAP fees the Treehouse pays probably fall under the public performance license. A blanket license just to play music from the CD player may be cheaper, but I don’t see how you can keep the occasional cover out of weekend performances. I’ll bet ASCAP will force them to pay the fees even if they get rid of covers.

I’m not surprised about the shorter time slots, although I thought they should book two performers a night like most coffeeshops do. It usually ends up working out that way anyway, with the booked act bringing someone along.

What I would do to improve weekend traffic at the Treehouse is set up a deal with the great neighboring restaurants to make it the official waiting room of for the Tortilla Press, Nunzios, and Water Lily. Have the hostesses call the the Treehouse and announce when people’s tables are ready. Just a thought.


2 responses to “Tree House News – Weekend Performance Hours Curtailed and No Covers?”

  1. i haven’t been able to come down there in ages. i miss the place.

    but now that i’m going to be gloriously unemployed i should consider stopping by.

  2. Yes, I agree it doesn’t seem feasible to eliminate all covers, but I actually knew of a (short-lived) coffee house some years back (It was just off South St. in Philly, called George’s 5th St.) George actually attempted to avoid ASCAP fees that way. He actually would point this out to the artists any time he recognized a cover. Kind of extreme, yes.

    And yes, Jay, you do need to get your a-s down here now that you are back slacking.