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A Storm of Streaming Music Choices – Are Any Right for In-Store Business Use?

Posted by John on April 20th, 2015

Do an Internet search for “music streaming services” and you’ll find many. A Wikipedia page lists 34 music streaming services around the world. CNET and Time have reviewed more than a dozen options for the U.S.

Are these music streaming companies good to use as in-store/in-office music? If you use them online at home, can you – should you – play them as overhead music/background music at your business?

tornado-streamingFrom Spotify to Grooveshark, iTunes Radio to TIDAL, almost all of these high-profile consumer music streaming companies have a couple of things in common:

  1. The music isn’t selected to be played in a business. Why? Because potential problems include higher repetition of same songs and same artists, inappropriate lyrics or foul language, live tracks with lots of whistling and applause, slow songs that drag down the tempo, harder edge uptempo songs when you want to tempo to be lower, or louder/softer volume changes from song to song. These aren’t all downsides for an individual who’s listening, but for a manager trying to run a business, these are disadvantages.
  2. The music is not licensed to play in a business (restaurant, retail, grocery, hotel, medical office). Why? Because these are music services for individual consumers (B2C) created for people to listen to in the home or on a personal mobile device; not to play over multiple speakers in a public business setting (B2B). Different U.S. copyright royalty rates apply.
Spotify · Google Play · Rdio · Rhapsody · Pandora · TIDAL · Slacker · Xbox Music Pass · Last.fm · iTunes Radio · Beats Music · Napster · Rara · Musicovery · Amazon Prime Music · iHeartRadio · Soundcloud · Grooveshark · 8Tracks · Songza

These services have generated media buzz and consumer attention. They’re all angling for the mass market, consumer business. They’re often covered and hyped by the media which builds awareness and curiosity. So it’s no wonder that business owners often think that it’s OK to use these music companies in their business.

One of these streaming music services that IS available for businesses is Pandora, yet most businesses use Pandora incorrectly and illegally. The free Pandora service (with commercials) and the paid Pandora One upgrade (with more songs skips, ad free, fewer timeouts) are not licensed for business use. These are designed for individual listening only. It surprises us that most business owners will take the risk of getting caught, shorting the song makers on royalties, and ignore the rules in an effort save a few bucks a month by using consumer versions of Pandora.

The legal option is “Pandora For Business”. But did you know that “Pandora For Business” is only available through Mood Music, aka Muzak? Two of the biggest corporations have combined to control your music. And we know what happens to service-after-the-sale when big corporations are control.

By the way, Pandora’s algorithms aren’t well designed for business listening. Pandora users who listen in their business complain about high repetition of same songs and same artists, too many live tracks with talk and applause, volume variations from song to song, slow songs that drag down the tempo, and playlists wandering too far away from the seed artists. Pandora can be a good music source for individuals; it’s a less-than-ideal service for businesses.

So if you’re reading about the latest streaming service touted by a high profile singer, or your friend tells you about his favorite online music service that he’s loving, be cautious about turning it on in your business. Use a music service designed and maintained strictly for businesses – like Custom Channels. We understand every aspect of providing music for a store, restaurant, office, spa, salon, hotel or any business setting from creating outstanding playlists that don’t repeat, to taking the worrying out of paying music licensing fees. Contact us with any questions.

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