The music you play at your business speaks volumes about your brand. You want to make sure you are not only playing it legally but that you are in control of the specific music your business plays.
But, like many, you may not be aware if your business is playing music legally. In fact, 83 percent of small businesses are not paying for proper music rights.
It can be a pretty difficult process to navigate. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions below, and find a solution that works for you so you can be confident in playing music at your business.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE LEGALLY STREAMING MUSIC
It is a huge liability for your business if you aren’t legally streaming music under the proper license. The first thing to consider is the financial penalties; if you are found to be playing music in your business without the appropriate permission, you could receive a letter demanding payment.
According to copyright law, a fine could be anywhere between $750 to $150,000 per song played. For most, that figure alone is enough to make sure your business is compliant.
Another thing to consider is that if you’re not streaming music legally, the musicians are not getting their proper royalties. Imagine putting your heart and soul into a project, being promised that you'd be paid, but then receiving nothing, or only a portion of the guaranteed payment. This is what happens when businesses don't legally stream music.
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HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM LEGALLY PLAYING MUSIC
With so many streaming services available, it can get confusing to know which ones, if any, you can use for playing music at your business.
If you are already a paid subscriber to Apple Music, Spotify, or another streaming service, you may be wondering if that covers your business and if you can just stream from your playlist. The quick answer is no.
Music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify are only licensed for private, non-commercial use. These services are not covered for business use.
You may be wondering, am I able to play the radio at my business? Sure, for most companies, you can play the radio legally, as long as it is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
But even if you can legally play the radio, is that the best option for your brand? Probably not.
When you play the radio, you don't have control over the commercials aired, the song choice, or the conversations between radio deejays. Since the music you play at your business speaks volumes about your brand, you'll want to be in control of what songs are played and when they are played.
The next thing to consider is if are you able to play downloaded music or CDs in your business. When you purchase a CD or download music, you are only purchasing partial rights to that music—you still do not own that music. Think of the piracy warning shown before the start of any purchased Blu-Ray or DVD: it warns you that this movie is for private viewing only. The same goes for music.
When you buy a CD or download music, you are only purchasing the license for private, non-commercial use – just like the streaming services.
When music is played in a small business, it needs to be licensed under copyright. You need a Public Performance License (PPL) to play music at a business.
There are a few options for how to obtain this license, including going directly through the Performance Rights Organization (PRO) or working with a company like PTG.
WHAT ARE PERFORMANCE RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS AND ARE THEY THE BEST OPTION?
If you are looking to play music in your business, one option is to go through a Performance Rights Organization. These organizations work as an intermediary between copyright holders and those who wish to use copyrighted works, such as music.
It’s important to know that there are three main PROs in the United States. Those are ASCAP American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and Global Music Rights (GMR).
When you purchase licensing rights from one of the PROs, you are only buying rights for songs under that organization. Some songs, due to multiple songwriters and/or collaborations, require licensing under more than one PRO. You may find it necessary to obtain a license through each PRO, which has separate procedures for how to license their services.
Each PRO also has compliance reports that need to be filled out. This is where it can get complicated and take quite a bit of time.
But there is another option.
Businesses can go through an AV integrator like PTG who works directly with the PROs to get the appropriate licensing. This means you only have to work with one organization for your business music streaming needs and use one interface to control your business’s music.
Not only will PTG cover your Public Performance License, but they can also work with you to create the perfect audio system and audio brand for your business.
IS IT EXPENSIVE TO LICENSE MUSIC FOR MY BUSINESS?
In the long run, it's much less expensive to pay for the proper license to play music in your business than it is to pay the copyright infringement fees, which can be between $750 to $150,000 per song played. This is why it's essential to make sure your business is legally playing music and to get the proper licensing as soon as possible.
Licensed music doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to manage. There are streaming services like ones offered through PTG, who will work with you to find the right solution for your business.