Business music licensing

Playing music from your iPod to customers? Stop now. (2 of 4)

In post #2 of 4 in our series on music licensing for business, we dive into the difference between licenses for business use vs. licenses for consumer use and what types of business need to have commercial licenses.

When you stream music from the internet using Spotify, purchase a CD, or download a song from iTunes, you pay only for personal use rights.  Personal use rights usually include the Master Use License and Mechanical License necessary to play the work for yourself (if you are wondering what those are, check out the first post in this series.)   Keep in mind that personal use rights acquired when making music purchases do not carry over to commercial settings.

Title 17 of US Copyright Law protects Public Performance Rights and lays out the ownership, scenarios and responsibilities for the licensing of music.

“Public” is defined as “a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.”  A public performance also occurs when the performance is transmitted by means of any device to the public.  Businesses fall into these categories, which is why Public Performance licenses are required in addition to Master Use and Mechanical Licenses.

So what businesses need to comply with copyright law?

The law applies to all types of commercial establishments, some you might find surprising.  In addition, to restaurants and retail stores, Public Performance Rights must be obtained for music playing at airports, schools, banks, doctor’s offices, dentist’s offices, grocery stores, auto dealerships, hotels, shopping centers and websites.  Failure to obtain the proper licenses is copyright infringement and the penalties can be very costly.

Learn more about music licensing for business in our free comprehensive guide.