How to Legally Play Music in Your Business
Congratulations, you’ve done it! You’ve opened the perfect business. Now you just need music to match the vibe you’ve curated. It can’t be that difficult, can it?
Actually, playing music in public places and for businesses can be a minefield. You may be asking, “Is it legal to play music in a business?” The answer is yes, but you need to follow certain rules.
Know that it’s completely worthwhile using music in your business. Psychological studies show that music affects consumers’ desire to buy, as well as the pace at which they walk through stores and consider purchases. One study showed that slower tempo music caused consumers to move through stores more slowly, driving higher profits. Another study showed that romantic music encouraged buyers to purchase more flowers.
Protection for Musicians
Everyone involved in the creation of a musical track has rights and aims to profit from their creative work, and so you must pay to play music outside of private contexts.
Most music is copyrighted and registered with a performance rights organization (PRO). The three most popular PROs in the United States are ASCAP, BMI , and SESAC . There are many more PROs around the world.
Kinds of Music Licenses
Given how many possible uses and contexts music has, it makes sense that there are six kinds of licenses that govern different uses of music . These licenses range from governing the performance of live music to the use of music for film and TV, to authorizing the use of digital transmission.
If you’re wondering, “How can I legally play music in my business?” read on!
What Music Can I Play Without a Licence?
The answer is very little — unless you or your employees can compose original music.
Another exception is public domain music (i.e., music whose copyright has expired or was never copyrighted in the first place). Be careful, however. Much music advertised as “public domain” is actually protected, and you could be penalized. Penalties for playing copyrighted songs without proper licensing can result in fines ranging from $750 to $150,000 per song .
Can I Use Music in My Film, TV, or Video?
If you’re asking, “Can I use music in my commercial?” the answer is yes. If you’re making a video for your business and using music as a soundtrack, you are required to get a music synchronization license, also known as a sync license or a media producers’ license. This gives you the right to, quite literally, synchronize a song with a visual image or video.
According to ASCAP, you may additionally need a master use license, which ASCAP defines as “the right to reproduce a specific recording of a song in your film.” This must be cleared with the record label that owns the specific recording you want to use.
Conveniently, stockmusic.net offers both the synchronization and the master rights in our media producers license.
Can I Play Music on My Business Premises?
According to ASCAP, a public performance occurs in a public place or any place where people gather (other than a small circle of family or social acquaintances). Chances are this describes your business premises.
If you wish to play music on your premises, you would likely need a public performance license. The expense of this license varies, depending on such factors as:
- Business type
- Square footage
- Number of speakers
There are also specific categories of business that require additional fees — like a jukebox fee if you have one in your restaurant or bar.
According to attorney Richard Stim, owners with stores over 2,000 square feet or restaurants or bars over 3,750 square feet should expect to pay about $500 a year to the three primary PROs.
ASCAP publically displays their rate sheets , and note that you would also be paying BMI and possibly SESAC.
However, stockmusic.net has a better solution. Read on to learn more!
Here are some answers to other questions you might have:
Can I Legally Play the Radio in my Business?
If your business is smaller than 2,000 square feet, according to Stim, you can avoid all fees when playing music on the radio or television.
If your business premises are larger than 2,000 square feet, you would probably have to pay a licensing fee, and you should ask about costs. It can get complicated, and it is incumbent on business owners to reach out to PROs for answers.
Can I Play Apple Music in my Business?
Streaming music is not included in the exemption for radio and TV, so you would probably need a blanket license from the PROs to stream music, even if you have a smaller store.
Do You Need a License to Play Music In An Office?
Yes, it’s likely you would, as it falls under the US copyright law definition of public performance. A blanket license (that covers offices) with ASCAP is a minimum of $294/year, with charges per employee for larger firms. If you also licensed music from BMI and SESAC, you would have to pay them, too.
Royalty-Free Music: A Great Way To Play Music At Your Business
So, what music can you play in a business? Licensing copyrighted music through a performance rights organization (like ASCAP) is one way to go. But there’s another option that may be easier, more user-friendly, and perhaps more affordable for your business.
To play music on business premises, you need music that comes with a public performance license. On Stock Music, you can buy tracks individually for $39.95 apiece, specifying that you need a public performance license when you check out. The best thing about this is that once you purchase a track from Stock Music with a public performance license, it’s good to use forever, and you will never have to pay public performance royalties to a PRO.
Royalty-free music is a great solution to avoid the headaches of licensing. The best place to look is Stock Music. It has a large library of curated royalty-free music. You can browse by genre, tone, instrumentation, and tempo to find exactly the kind of music you want. You just pay the one-off license fee, and that’s it – once you’ve paid, you can keep playing it forever.
If you want to know how to legally play music in your business, Stock Music has answers for you. We work with leading brands worldwide and just about anyone else who needs audio for their business. Check out stockmusic.net to find the perfect music for your business!
Since 2002, these brands and thousands others have trusted our music and tested our licenses