No more singing at Susie's Home Cooking - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

No more singing at Susie's Home Cooking

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Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

HIXSON, TN. (WRCB)--  Thursday nights are gospel nights at Susie's Home Cookin' in Hixson.

A music licensing group ordered the restaurant to stop the live show, or pay a fee.

After our story Thursday night at 11, we wanted to know who is, and is not required to pay that fee.

According to copyright laws, whenever music is performed to an audience outside family members and their social acquaintances, the songwriter should be paid.

Organizations like Broadcast Music Incorporated, or BMI, have been given the right to enforce the law.

"It's our lifeline, you know, that's how we get by," says Roger Alan Wade.

Roger Alan Wade and Chris McDaniel are longtime artists and songwriters, first in country music and now McDaniel runs a Christian music ministry out of Chattanooga.

Since these men love music, they understand why the folks at Suzie's Home Cooking get together Thursday night for some good food and music.

"I could understand the other side of it because it's so engrained in people. You know, make a joyful noise, go on down the line," says Wade.

But these guys also know how hard it is to make a living as a writer. That's why they register their music with performing rights companies like BMI.

"I think BMIs done a wonderful job of bringing about awareness that music is a product just as much as the fried chicken they sell," says Wade.

Thursday, the people at Suzie's Home Cooking were outraged to learn they wouldn't be able to continue their live performances without a license.

"All we're doing is singing and having a good time. And it's just senior citizens getting together and they're wanting to take this right away from us," says Mary Poe.

But Broadcast Music Incorporated says they have the right by law and when songwriters like Wade and McDaniel register their music with BMI, they're asking the company to police it.

"Songwriters are small business people too. They struggle to survive, most of them never write a commercially successful song," says BMI Representative Jerry Bailey.

We asked BMI what the difference is between playing music in a restaurant or at church.

Turns out, religious groups are exempt, so Suzie's Home Cooking will have to pay that $729.

By the way, we wanted to know how BMI found out. They tell us they send researchers out into the community, and sometimes they get phone calls.

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