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

In our final post in the series on ensuring the music in your business is legal, we explore who’s responsible for obtaining licenses and the consequences if the proper licenses are not secured.

Responsibility for Licensing Music

The owner of the business where copyrighted material is performed is responsible for ensuring the proper licenses are obtained for every song played.  The business owner is also liable for any infringement of copyrighted music.


Failure to obtain the appropriate music licensing can be very costly,  which is why it’s recommended to obtain licensing prior to playing music.  If you’re found in violation of copyright law, you can be fined for damages as well as for the copyright owner’s legal fees.  The amounts of these statutory damages can easily range from $750 to $150,000 per song if the court finds the infringement was willful.

Multiple Performance Rights Organizations

Performance rights organizations provide intermediary functions, particularly collection of royalties, between copyright […]

Playing music from your iPod to customers? Stop now. (3 of 4)

In this post, we explore what organizations are considered PROs and what role they play in music licensing in a business setting.

In the U.S., composers, lyricists, artists, and publishers become members of Performing Rights Organizations, who ensure their members are getting compensated for their creative works.  PROs pay members by collecting licensing fees and then distributing funds based on the amount of times their work has been performed or played.

The main PROs in the United States are American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and SESAC. In order to avoid fines, you need licenses from each PRO that represents each song you play.

Getting a license from each PRO can be daunting and expensive task. Download our Music Licensing for Business Guide to find more affordable solutions for legal music.