Rupert Murdoch is a fucking idiot.
Anyway, pretend you're an owner of a venue (being a complete jerkoff is optional). You hire a young, probably white indie-rock DJ to fill the spot of a local group that canceled last minute, and he starts playing some shitty indie band (I don't know, The Hold Steady or something). What do you do? You pull the plug is what you do! As the owner of the venue, you know very well that you didn't pay the ASCAP licensing fees, and if you want to avoid sitting alongside the other 26 venues that were sued Monday for not forking over the dough, you best pay up first.
You see, a record company owns the "sound recording," not the actual song. The actual song (the words, music) is owned by music publishers, who will give you -- the venue owner, remember? -- the license to entertain your guests with the copyrighted music, like The Hold Steady (whose music is really owned by ASCAP). Oh, and here's another tip, junior: in addition to ASCAP, it'd be a good idea to contact BMI and SESAC, too. So, now your DJ can play whatever shitty indie and/or mainstream band he wants, and your ass will be covered. ISN'T CAPITALISM GREAT.
Alright, now fire that white DJ. He's making you look bad.
Here are the venues being sued by ASCAP: