Are you getting married? Throwing a big party? Yeah, I’ll bet you’d like to have some rockin’ tunes playing at the wedding reception, right? Cadillac Ranch, I’m Too Sexy, The Chicken Dance, all the classics!

Well, it’s going to cost you $9.95 for the privilege, double if your guests plan on dancing.

The Copyright Board of Canada is rolling out new tariffs on music played at live events. It seems parades, fairs, karaoke bars and weddings have been freeloading on free music for decades and it’s time to pay up.

When I read this story on CBC.ca this afternoon I started to wonder if there was no place the music industry feels it can’t mine for “renumeration” fees.

I imagine an old, miserly record label CEO, dressed in a fine baby seal skin suit, sitting at his ivory desk counting large stacks of money when suddenly his ears twitch. “I hear music,” he says slithering his way to the window. Looking down at the street far below his tower office the CEO spots a parade trumpeting its way through the city “music being played…for free!”

Is it fair to paint the music industry as a Snidely Whiplash style villain? Probably not, but it’s difficult not to get cynical when the industry gets petty about music played at weddings.

Re:Sound, a not-for-profit Canadian music licensing company representing artists and record labels, points out when we buy a music album we are only paying for our own personal use, we are not paying to broadcast it publicly. The Copyright Act contains this rule so that musician are compensated by businesses such as radio stations, bars and other venues who benefit greatly from their creativity. It stands to reason if someone is making a substantial profit off of your work you are entitled to a piece of that sweet money pie.

What Re:Sound (which is just an awful, awful name for an music organization) will argue is that all events featuring recorded music benefit from it, even in miniscule ways. Music provides atmosphere. Weddings, fashion shows, stampedes and orgies would be dull without it.

So now even a crappy parade float broadcasting music from a 10 watt speaker is subject to a $4.95 fee, presumably because someone in the crowd was tapping their toes to a garbled Justin Beiber track.

While Re:Sound is technically correct (I know I can’t get my orgy on without a little LMFAO) I don’t know that it entitles composers, recording artists, background performers, session musicians and record labels to be compensated.

That’s not a joke, by the way, Re:Sound believes even background singers should be remunerated. How the organization manages to take all these tiny fees and split them up fairly amongst thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of musicians and vocalist (Re:Sound also represents international artists) is an absolute mystery.

An equally fair counter argument can be made that playing music publicly is of great benefit to the music industry. Basically it’s free advertising. I can’t count the number of times I’ve over-heard a good tune in bar, clothing store or whatever, figured out who the band was and bought the CD. I actually discovered The National because they were being played at Urban Outfitters.

I can sympathize that making money in music isn’t as easy as it use to be, but I wonder if that is in part because music is undervalued. $9.99 to download an album on iTunes is awfully cheap, I honestly feel sometimes like I’m ripping the artist off at that price. I’m not sure how many will agree with me, but I personally wouldn’t be bothered to pay as much as twice that price, though I’m sure record labels would be concerned raising prices would drive consumers to piracy.

It’s a legitimate concern, but I think a modest price increase, say two or three dollars (and maybe two dollars a song instead of one), would increase the bottom line while avoiding the wrath of the consumer. Maybe this way the music industry wouldn’t need to hunt down newlyweds for a few extra pennies.