Karaoke is usually bad. Once in a while you get a dude who can really belt out some Bill Withers, or a friend who loves Prince more than life itself and can recite When Doves Cry in her sleep. But mostly it’s just really, really bad.
Well, according to Munchies, it doesn’t matter how good the singer is: Record labels only care about cash, and that might spell trouble for one Chicago pizzeria. Record giant BMI and other labels are in the process of suing Piece Pizzeria in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood over unpaid royalties from karaoke nights.
BMI has reached out to Piece more than 70 times since 2014 concerning their live karaoke night, where the house band play songs under the BMI umbrella, including hits from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Weezer. Piece could have signed up for a music license, costing around $300, but since it didn’t, the record company is coming for what’s owed.
If you had no idea that karaoke was copyright infringement, you’re not alone, but every time you queue up “Enter Sandman” and get your James Hetfield on, just know that Lars Ulrich is waiting in the wings with a lawsuit.
The issue arose when a representative from a royalties agency stopped by the pizzeria on August 23rd and saw patrons singing along to RHCP’s “Give it Away,” Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So,” and Willie Nelson’s “Crazy.”
BMI isn’t looking to put the pizzeria out of business though, just get what they’re owed and hopefully push a licensing deal on the independent eatery. If anyone should know his way around music royalty loopholes though, it should be Piece’s co-owner Rick Nielsen, lead guitarist from Cheap Trick.