There are lots of questions that business owners have around streaming music for their business. In this blog post I will be going over what I feel like are the top 5 questions that we get asked around streaming from business owners. If you do your homework and follow these steps, this should educate you on how to secure music rights and hopefully make the process much easier.
Can I stream Spotify or other streaming sites as background music in my business?
No you can't.....Sorry I wish I had better news but music streaming services come in two forms. There is business to consumer, which is meant for you to use for personal use and there is business to business which can be used to stream in your business.
In order you to use for your business, you must obtain a Public Performance License, to play music in your establishment for your customers, employees or anyone else. Streaming services offer inexpensive plans for you to use exclusively for your business.
How can I get a license to play specific artists music in my business?
In order to get a license, I recommend for businesses to work directly with each of the major Performance Rights Organizations (PRO) to negotiate license fees. Fees can vary depending on your business but they are the best place to start. Each artists may belong to one of these organizations or others similar.
Below is a breakdown of some specific links to major PRO's that can help.
Do I need licenses with all 3 major Performing Rights Organizations?
It all depends on what music you want to play. Some artists may be with Ascap while others may be with BMI.
A music license with a performing rights organization only allows you to perform copyrighted music represented by that organization.
Songs often have many songwriters, composers, and publishers, each of which may belong to a different PRO. Since the creators and owners of the songs are represented by different PROs, the best Solution is getting blanket licenses that cover all the PROs.
What if I stream music in my business without obtaining a license?
To publicly perform copyrighted music, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you do not obtain the proper permission, you can be held liable for damages of $750 to $150,000 per song. The Performing Rights Organizations, go after business' all of the time that do not obtain music licenses.
Last year BMI sued several restaurants, whom I won't name, that played just 4 songs without getting permission. Total lawsuit was for $24,000 approximately $6000 per song.
Ascap last year filed 10 legal actions against bars and restaurants. The restaurant owners refused to pay the licensing fees which would have come out to about $2 a day if obtained legally.
What if I play copyright free music?
If you play copyright free music, you don’t have to pay licensing fees, but be sure to check the Copyright Office and It would also be a good idea to check the databases of Ascap, Bmi & Sesac to be sure the music you are playing is in fact copyright free.
Bottom line is you don't want to takes risks like streaming music illegally, especially for your business. Its always recommended to obtain licenses for playing music in your business. It can be very inexpensive and can save you a ton of headache and money. Along while supporting the artists that are creating this music for you and your patrons enjoyment.