Music Licensing for Businesses
Updated: Feb 8
Do I need a license to play music at my place of business?
Yes. While laws may slightly differ from country to country, the general rule is that if you play music at your place of business, you must pay for a license to do so. All music is protected by copyright law, so no matter what type of business you are, if you are selling a product or service to the public and use music while doing so, a music licensing fee must be paid. This includes, but is not limited to: bars and pubs, clubs, spas, gyms, hotel lobbies, all retail stores, hair and nail salons, restaurants, pop-up shops or eateries, and more. If you play music in a public or commercial setting without a license, you can be fined or sued for each song you play (for up to $150,000 per song).
How do I license music for my business?
If you happen to know a bunch of musicians who give you permission to use their music at your place of business, you are all set! However, you will be stuck playing the same songs over and over. This could become really annoying for your customers. Luckily for you, in the US, there are a number of performing rights organizations (PROs) that represent artists and provide licenses on their behalf. These PROs, such as ASCAP or BMI, represent millions of artists across the world, including over 95% of all major / famous artists and bands. Business owners can pay a specific PRO, such as ASCAP or BMI, for a license to use its artists’ music, or they can pay for multiple licenses (a blanket license) so they can use music from any PRO. A blanket license will cover almost all Top 40 music and popular songs you hear on the radio, so this is the ideal solution; however, it is very expensive to buy multiple licenses.
How much does this license cost? How are music licensing fees calculated?
Fees for playing music at your business can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year, depending on the size and capacity of your place of business and the industry within which you operate (bars may pay more than a spa, for example, and there are different licenses for each kind of business). On average, small businesses pay somewhere between $500-$1000 per year. If you want to have live music performances, DJs or karaoke nights, licensing fees can climb much higher. The number of speakers in the place of business and whether or not admission is charged to the public will also play a factor. For more information regarding fees, visit ASCAP or BMI to learn more and get a better idea of exact costs for your business music license.
What is the penalty or fine for not paying for a music license for my business?
Penalties and fines vary from country to country. In North America, fines can be massive; with the minimum you will have to pay if you are caught being $1000 or more (between fines and back-dated licensing fees that are owed). This number easily can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars if music is integral to the business. Larger businesses could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, penalties, and / or lawsuits. Copyright infringement lawsuits are extremely commonplace and appear in the news all the time and it isn't just an issue for bricks and mortar businesses (online busineses, apps, movies, tv, etc... all have buy music licenses when they use songs). For example, Sony recently sued Triller (a TikTok competitor) for millions for failure to pay licensing fees for music used within the app. And Peleton was sued for $150 million for using music as part of their gym / fitness classes.
PROs regularly send representatives to bars, clubs, restaurants, stores, and other places where music is routinely played, in order to check whether music is being used without a license. They have song-detection software similar to Shazam, and will sue businesses that are using songs without a license.
Can I avoid paying licensing fees to ASCAP/BMI or other PROs? Is there a source of modern free music I can use?
Yes and yes! If an artist or the owner of a song gives permission to play or perform a particular song for free, then that song can be played or performed by anybody, without any fees needing to be paid. Otherwise, a music license is required. Fortunately for you, you can forego paying for music, thanks to StreemTunes. StreemTunes owns a massive catalog of songs, spread across many different genres, and allows all business owners to use its music for free! Save hundreds to thousands of dollars each year for your business by using StreemTunes’ free music, licensed for business use.
StreemTunes is the world’s best source of FREE modern music for businesses, with new music added bi-weekly. Choose from specially curated playlists designed for retail, restaurants, spas / salons, and gyms / fitness facilities. Get your license today by clicking below, or contact email@example.com.
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