fbpx

Licensing 101

Music licensing basics for businesses small and large

Licensing 101

Music licensing basics for businesses small and large
Virtually any business that plays music that can be heard by customer must pay music-for-business license fees
  • Playing an artist’s music in your home is one thing. But playing it in your place of business constitutes a “public performance,” and different rules apply.
  • It’s an infringement on copyright rules if the proper licenses are not obtained – a fact many business owners overlook.
  • With Custom Channels, all music is fully-licensed – and the costs of the music rights are bundled into one monthly fee. You’re legally compliant AND supporting music by ensuring artists are getting paid.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Different rules apply to businessess

If your place of business is playing music that can be heard by customers, you need to pay the appropriate licensing fees.

There are many levels to licensing

Different Performing Rights Organizations can protect the rights of multiple clients on a single copyrighted piece.

enforcement is real

PROs are constantly on the hunt for businesses that are playing music without proper licensing.

custom channels provides a solution

The costs of all licensing fees, reporting and paperwork  are covered in one small (headache-free) monthly fee.

Never worry about licensing again

Request a quote. A Custom Channels music expert will respond within 24 hours.

Music licensing is vastly different for business than consumers.

At its heart, the concept of licensing is fairly simple. The license for any piece of music is basically a contract that says how it can be used, for how long, and in what mediums. If someone plays music without permission, they are infringing on the copyright. Consumer services designed for individual listening (like Pandora and Spotify) cost less than legitimate music-for-business services because with the business, the music is being “performed” for more people – the customers and employees that visit your place of business each day. There are exceptions; for instance, stores under 2,000 square feet, or restaurants or bars under 3,750 square feet may play music from an AM or FM radio, or broadcast television, without a license, provided there are fewer than six speakers and customers aren’t charged to listen. But even there, several nuances apply – all of which are spelled out in section 110(5) of the Copyright Act.

It takes more than a single license

Songwriters, composers and music publishers generally join a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) that licenses their work to the public, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), or Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). Because of the number of works that these PROs administer, they’re subject to antitrust decrees that require them to license each song in their catalog on the same terms to all similar licensees. That means all bars and restaurants, for instance, get the same terms from each organization. Rates and contracts are based on a number of factors and are available for review on the ASCAP and BMI websites. But obtaining a license from one of these PROs only means you have a license for THAT organization’s copyright holders. And while it’s possible to obtain a blanket license from each of the PROs, the costs of the multiple licenses and the hassles of paperwork, music reporting, and compliance will cost far more than a typical business music subscription.

These licenses are strictly enforced

No business is immune from the rights issue. In fact, the PROs assign people to regularly travel the country, listening for music that is being played without a license. And when they find a violation, they waste no time cracking down. The first step is often a letter like this one, spelling out the licensing specifics, and alerting you to any fees you owe. Statutory damages can range anywhere from $750, up to $150,000, per copyrighted work if a court decides the infringement was intentional. PROs raise many claims each year trying to collect from businesses that, either through ignorance or willful flaunting of the law, are playing music without obtaining the proper rights. What’s more, cable and satellite providers also go to great lengths to aggressively enforce their rights.

Custom Channels is a fully licensed music service

We pay the Performing Rights Organizations when we play a song so business don’t have to do it themselves. We also do all the reporting and paperwork, removing another major headache from business owners. We make certain that all songs get reported and that all appropriate fees are paid for each location that streams our music service. For a fraction of the cost of the required license fees, businesses can save money using Custom Channels for music and never again have to worry about licensing or copyright issues.

Music licensing is vastly different for business than consumers.

At its heart, the concept of licensing is fairly simple. The license for any piece of music is basically a contract that says how it can be used, for how long, and in what mediums. If someone plays music without permission, they are infringing on the copyright. Consumer services designed for individual listening (like Pandora and Spotify) cost less than legitimate music-for-business services because with the business, the music is being “performed” for more people – the customers and employees that visit your place of business each day. There are exceptions; for instance, stores under 2,000 square feet, or restaurants or bars under 3,750 square feet may play music from an AM or FM radio, or broadcast television, without a license, provided there are fewer than six speakers and customers aren’t charged to listen. But even there, several nuances apply – all of which are spelled out in section 110(5) of the Copyright Act.

It takes more than a single license

Songwriters, composers and music publishers generally join a Performing Rights Organization (PRO) that licenses their work to the public, such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), or Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). Because of the number of works that these PROs administer, they’re subject to antitrust decrees that require them to license each song in their catalog on the same terms to all similar licensees. That means all bars and restaurants, for instance, get the same terms from each organization. Rates and contracts are based on a number of factors and are available for review on the ASCAP and BMI websites. But obtaining a license from one of these PROs only means you have a license for THAT organization’s copyright holders. And while it’s possible to obtain a blanket license from each of the PROs, the costs of the multiple licenses and the hassles of paperwork, music reporting, and compliance will cost far more than a typical business music subscription.

These licenses are strictly enforced

No business is immune from the rights issue. In fact, the PROs assign people to regularly travel the country, listening for music that is being played without a license. And when they find a violation, they waste no time cracking down. The first step is often a letter like this one, spelling out the licensing specifics, and alerting you to any fees you owe. Statutory damages can range anywhere from $750, up to $150,000, per copyrighted work if a court decides the infringement was intentional. PROs raise many claims each year trying to collect from businesses that, either through ignorance or willful flaunting of the law, are playing music without obtaining the proper rights. What’s more, cable and satellite providers also go to great lengths to aggressively enforce their rights.

Custom Channels is a fully licensed music service

We pay the Performing Rights Organizations when we play a song so business don’t have to do it themselves. We also do all the reporting and paperwork, removing another major headache from business owners. We make certain that all songs get reported and that all appropriate fees are paid for each location that streams our music service. For a fraction of the cost of the required license fees, businesses can save money using Custom Channels for music and never again have to worry about licensing or copyright issues.
Fully licensed access to the complete music libraries of…

ASCAP • BMI • SESAC • GMR • SOCAN 

Learn more about all three Custom Channels solutions that solve your unique business needs

ALL ACCESS

Just select and go.

Professionally programmed, continuously
updated, ready-to-go business channels. Styles
to fit every customer experience.

ALL ACCESS

Just select and go.

60+ professionally programmed, continuously
updated, ready-to-go business channels. Styles
to fit every customer experience.

REMIX

You can be DJ.

Our powerful, DIY platform gives your team the
tools to easily create your own playlists from
our expertly curated styles.

REMIX

You can be DJ.

Our powerful, DIY platform gives your team the tools to create your own playlists from our expertly curated styles.

ETHOS

Custom-built for you.

Capture the unique heart and soul of your
business with a one-of-a-kind music station tailored to your specific needs.

ETHOS

Custom-built for you.

Hand-crafted channels curated exclusively for you by our music pros to fit your aesthetic and tone. Our most popular option!