I recently visited a coffee shop where the music plays from an iPad at the counter. That iPad is primarily used as the POS (point of sale) so it’s constantly in use tallying orders and swiping credit cards with a card reader attached. I wasn’t surprised when the music stopped. No sound for about 5 minutes. I eventually asked, “What happened to the music?” “Oh, it stops sometimes, we have to restart it,” said the person working the counter, who is likely the shop owner. I asked what music system they use and she said “Pandora.”

There are several issues with this music-for-business set up.

1. This shop is using Pandora for consumers, not “Pandora for business”. We know because “Pandora for business” runs through a separate DMX receiver, not through a computer or iPad. By using the consumer version of Pandora, songwriters and performers are missing out on getting paid for the music that’s played in this coffee shop because businesses pay a very different music royalty fee than do individual listeners. Playing consumer music services (Pandora, Spotify, iTunes) in any business violates music licensing laws.

2. Playing music from a computer or iPad that’s used for other tasks isn’t a good idea. Too many functions can interrupt the audio. Other audio that pops up on the computer or iPad will also be heard over the system. It’s best to have music playing from an inexpensive dedicated device that’s out of the way in the back connected directly to the Internet via Ethernet cable, not using wi-fi.

3. Pandora isn’t the best music service for businesses. Pandora is best for individual music listening and music discovery. We’ve heard often from potential Custom Channels customers: “I am using Pandora in my retail store but looking for other options.” A lot of business owners are attracted to Pandora because it is customizable, they use it at home, and/or it’s free. But the free version comes with commercials and it’s not legal for business (see point number 1). While the upgraded Pandora for individuals charges a monthly fee for no commercials making it seemingly inexpensive, it’s still not legal for business (again, see point number 1) because music licensing and royalties for business is different from music licensing and royalties for individual listening.

So our recommendations are:

  • Don’t use the consumer version of Pandora in your business. And that goes for any Internet delivered consumer music services such as Spotify, iTunes or Rdio.
  • Don’t run your music through your POS or any other computer. With high potential for glitches, interruptions, and loss of audio, a dedicated music player is best.
  • Try Custom Channels music service. We offer a wide variety of channels with low repetition; our music channels are designed for business, not for individual consumers; we cover all music licensing; we use an Internet music player that doesn’t require an iPad or computer. Contact Custom Channels.