I'm the conductor of three different orchestras. Ever wonder why we play so much Beethoven, and so little Philip Glass? It's not because we hate new music. Rather, it's because the attendant fees are so high.
For example. I recently had to reprogram a concert featuring orchestral jazz music. I had a 20 minute spot to fill, so I contacted a rather famous living composer I know and asked if he had a piece he'd like for us to play. Well, it turned out that he doesn't even have copies of the parts for his own music. We had to pay $400 to rent the parts from his publisher. We also had to pay an additional $300 to BMI (ASCAP's little brother) for the performance rights. That's all on top of the $800 we paid this year in user fees just to have the right to pay the additional $300 for performance rights to one piece. So the total cost for this one piece: $1500. Total cost to play Beethoven instead, $150.
And on top of all that -- BMI has been stalking one of our orchestras, demanding they pay their membership fees in advance for next season, even though those fees are in "negotiation." BMI "promises" they'll refund the difference if the nationally negotiated fees are reduced. (Fat Chance.)
BMI and ASCAP are both starting to resort to extortionist tactics.