I am a Philly boy through and through, so when I saw this bill be proposed, I knew this was terrible for our live music scene. See, Philly is a great place for live music. We get some great shows in the electronic dance music scene, but also in every other genre. We flourish hard because we have all sorts of music in this city. It is fantastic for this very reason. Before, I break down what the proposal is, let me simplify it real quick. Philadelphia City Councilman, Mark Squilla proposed a bill that would require most venues to record “the full name, address and phone number of all performance acts.” It would also give police the power to approve or deny performance permits. SIGN THE PETITION TO STOP IT HERE.
You may ask why this is bad? This essentially hurts smaller venues and smaller artists. This takes away from brand new artists who showcase their work without much of a name. Think like open mic night type events where you want to break into the scene. You need to start somewhere. This creates a database on all artists and can and will be used negatively to forfeit good artists in the name of what they stand for because the ability to shut it down very easily. This also puts artists in danger because their information is very sensitive being in the public eye. I understand the intentions of what he wants to do, but this is the worst way to go about it. Please sign the petition now.
Now for your entertainment, let me (somewhat…without being a lawyer) break down the bill from where it came from. This bill is for all establishments that have 50 or more people congregate in their facility for primarily social entertainment that happens at one or more times a year. This includes:
- Private Clubs
- Banquet Halls
They define social entertainment in different ways
- “dancing by patrons, entertainment by live or recorded music, or a disk jockey [Editor’s note: when was the last time we heard it said that way], a theatrical or other performance act or similar activities.”
- “Performance Act shall mean any person or group of persons engaged in the act of singing, disc jockeying, rapping, dancing, playing musical instruments, and/or acting for an audience or group of patrons. The term shall also include the presentation of streaming or recorded audio or video, whether or not obtained for a fee, where such audio or video is offered primarily for listening or viewing.”
- This affects those who promote events. [Editor’s note: This gets very detailed. Please go into the bill itself as this includes charity events, weddings, etc. on top of like shows we go to.]
Besides the cost for the license and requiring of showing applications, the police department has to approve of the show. It states
The Police Department has approved the application and the suitability of the location. In making such determination, the Police Department shall take into account such factors as crime, traffic, litter, noise, parking and hours of operation; as well as any community concerns, particularly those of neighbors in the immediate vicinity
It goes into detail about having all the licenses to get approved, safe location, zoning, and other stuff that should be taken into account already. Most of this is stuff that should be done already. No drugs. Follow noise laws. ETC. Then, there is stuff like this:
The full name, address and phone number of all performance acts scheduled to perform during the promoted event or special event. Licensees or operators[are encouraged to] shall update the local Police [Commander] Captain if there are substantial changes in the nature of the promoted event or special event, including, but not limited [to] to, cancellation of the event. The form for providing updated notifications shall be available for filing online;
I can go on and on about the bill, but you get how bad it is for the scene and why this bill should be shut down. I understand the ramifications that this bill has, yet I also understand why it was created. Clearly there is a major disconnect between the venues, the artists, and the councilman as he released this statement:
The primary goal of this bill is to close a loophole in the current legislation that has allowed venues to operate without a special assembly license (SAOL). SAOLs are required for certain venues that have live musical and other entertainment. We learned that some operators were able to avoid obtaining an SAOL because there was no live music or a DJ but music was streaming or playing from an iPod or iPad. This bill now includes such amplified recorded music. The bill now contains a provision that venues should obtain performers’ contact information to share with city officials should the need arise, but there is no City approval required for any events nor is a registry of performers being created. This provision is NOT intended to restrict artistic expression or any kind of entertainment but rather is aimed at addressing public safety and quality of life issues. I will consider any amendments to this bill, as suggested by concerned parties, prior to or at the public hearing which will be scheduled by the Chief Clerk of Council in the near future. Please contact our office with any questions or concerns.