Charlotte bar sued for illegally playing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Gif: YouTube

Of all the draconian-seeming laws, restaurants/bars being sued by the music industry for not paying a licensing fee to play their music seems... draconian? Look, we’re firmly on the side of musicians and content creators, but the optics of Whitney Houston’s estate and Oasis squeezing nickels from mom-n-pop businesses is hard to sympathize.


A Charlotte, North Carolina bar called The Trap is currently feeling the heat of somebody, and that certain somebody is Broadcast Music Inc, which licenses music performance rights. The bar is being sued, according to Charlotte TV station WSOC, for playing songs including Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and Oasis’ “Wonderwall” on August 17, 2016 without obtaining permission. Wow, that is... specific!

According to the suit, BMI attempted to contact the bar more than 40 times about obtaining a music performance license, which according to WSOC, could be obtained for $378 a year.


We here at The Takeout advocate following copyright laws, but mostly, agree that “I Want To Dance With Somebody” is a total banger.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.

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Wait, so bars have been playing music on the radio and TV forever without legal issues.  What’s the problem here?  Is it that now it’s streaming from someone’s playlist?  Because I assume someone already payed for those songs as some point, unless they were illegally downloaded from Limewire or something.