Guitar player being kissed by a girl at a concert

Full Disclosure on Music Licensing For Your Business

Everything sounds better and catchier with a few well-known or relatable songs, right? Nothing like We Are The Champions coming on during the end of the Super Bowl, or hearing some Sinatra in the background of a romantic movie. However, the misconception among these uses, such as hiding behind Fair Use rights, can make or break your business. Here’s what you need to know.


It’s Either Promotional Bliss or Theft

 It’s not okay to simply input a song to garner nostalgia or raise attention; you need the permission of the artist. In the case of a film utilizing the newest Billboard Top 40 pop hit, they’re paying millions in music licensing fees. If you were to input ten seconds of a well-known song into an independent film, you could be under the scrutiny of the law. Artists have a right to their information. So, now that’s we’ve covered the brevity of it, let’s talk about how you can effectively—and legally—license music for your business.


Radio Stations

 Ever walk into a little café and hear memorable tunes ringing from above? That’s not a standard radio or iPod that’s just playing through the speakers—every one of those songs has to be licensed for business use. It’s distribution. People are going to remember hearing that song in your establishment; it’s how artists get paid. Since the downfall of CDs and the rise of illegally downloading music, artists had to turn to other ways to earn money from their art. Since then, music licensing has gone under a load of reform, and it’s taken extremely seriously.


How Do I Get A Music License?

You need your license before you start playing music. Most artists license their work through multiple channels, being the ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, which each administer rights to businesses and restaurants in order to play this music. The quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to go about getting a music license for your business, is directly through Broadcast Music, Inc.’s (BMI) website.


Employee Policies on iPod Use

 I can’t tell you have how many times I’ve walked into a gas station late at night, or a little dinner and employees are playing their music through an iPod. Now, usually, I end up jamming with them, but it’s still a liability. It’s important to inform your employees if you currently don’t have a music license, that they can’t play their music aloud. While the chance of anyone actually pursuing any kind of action against music infringement is microscopic, there’s no way to determine who’s going to walk into your establishment, whether or not you’re there. It’s still broadcasting music illicitly.