Your Quick Guide to Music Licensing for Business Environments

Your Quick Guide to Music Licensing for Business Environments

There is ample empirical evidence that in-store music can improve the mood and tempo when performing specific activities, thus enhancing customer experience and staff motivation. That’s why, when designing a venue’s décor to welcome their clients, as well as showcase a brand’s personality, many companies put a well-deserved emphasis on their soundscape.

But there’s a catch to playing music in a business environment: you have to make sure you have the authorisation to do so. And regarding music licensing, Australia’s small and medium businesses are often unaware of the required legal fees.


International survey on the legal aspect of playing music in a business environment.

Source: Statista

Alt text: most businesses are unaware they need a licence for music played in their stores

This issue is quite common worldwide. According to a 2018 international survey, a large share of small business owners mistakingly believes that a personal music account gives them permission to play music in commercial spaces. For instance, 71 per cent of those in the United States think it’s legal to use streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music for this purpose.

To be honest, even if you are aware of the legal requirements, copyright issues can be so confusing and daunting, you might not know how to start curating your in-store playlists in a legal way.

The good news is that StorePlay is here to set the record straight. This quick guide will show you everything you need to know about obtaining a public performance licence.

If broadcasting music in-store has ever been an issue and you didn’t know where to start, then read on!

Music Licensing, Australia’s Copyright Laws, and More

Playing music in a business environment should be as simple as Do-Re-Mi. Let’s go through the main issues, terminology, and options you should know as a business owner.

How to Get a Public Performance Licence to Play In-Store Music Legally

Businesses like shops, restaurants, and fitness centres are required to have the authorisation to play music for customers and employees, according to the Copyright Act (1968). For most worldwide commercial music, they can get permission from the organisations that cover the royalties for the music creators.

In our country, the main organisation you need to know about is OneMusic Australia, a joint licensing initiative that makes it easier nowadays to obtain a public performance licence as well as pay mechanical royalties. It comprises APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association), AMCOS (Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society) and PPCA (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia).

There are three main ways to pay a licence fee:

  • Managing them yourself through quarterly payments, in advance — by downloading from a dedicated OneMusic commercial channel.

    The background music fees are calculated based on different variables like floor space, devices used, or the number of patrons — depending on your type of business;

  • Reaching out to artists and record labels to establish a legal agreement directly with them;
  • Paying a monthly subscription to a commercial music service like Storeplay Radio, that handles these costs for you. Often, music providers offer a range of additional services to create an environment that fits your company's needs.

Furthermore, you can play music legally from royalty-free music websites, as there are many independent artists out there who provide it for free. Just make sure they allow commercial use and check if they have other requirements like specific ways to give credit.

Performance Royalties and Mechanical Royalties Explained

Another aspect that occasionally generates confusion is the distinction between the two types of royalties that a company needs to pay in order to play background music.

To put it simply, performance royalties refer to the right to play a composition in public. On the other hand, mechanical royalties are paid for the right to reproduce a musical composition such as copying it onto a CD or a device like an mp3 player.

When you stream music, you pay both performance and mechanical royalties if you are able to choose songs through on-demand platforms. If the songs are played on non-interactive platforms, then you only pay the performance royalties.

Obtaining a music licence for business environments is essential in order to pay these royalties to the songwriters and music publishers, whenever a musical composition is performed or streamed in a live venue.

Consequences of Illegal Public Performances

Playing copyright-protected music without a licence constitutes an infringement and you might be served with a cease and desist notice and a huge fine at any time.

Sanctions can vary from $60,500 for individual business owners and $302,500 for corporations.

Working with an In-Store Music Provider Vs. Managing Fees Yourself

The main advantage of using an in-store music provider like Storeplay Radio is by far, the convenience of getting the background music tailored to your business needs. You don’t ever have to worry about copyright issues — the OneMusic Australia fees are automatically managed through Storeplay Radio.

Furthermore, paying a monthly subscription fee rather than a quarterly one might be beneficial for your specific situation. You would have time to test out various options with fewer upfront costs.

There’s also the added benefit that the music is already sorted by our marketing and music programming experts. We even have a curated royalty-free channel for those who prefer a more affordable solution!

Moreover, thanks to the AI and machine learning technology behind Storeplay Radio, you can assess the impact on your premises and make adjustments as needed.

Finally, you don’t have to worry about a bad internet connection interrupting your musical program. The music is downloaded — not streamed — so there’s never a buffering time or awkward silence.

Music Licensing Made Easy with Storeplay Radio

Many people don’t know they need a music licence for business premises to play background music but we hope this won’t be the case in the near future.

Music licensing societies are taking steps to streamline the process and music providers, like us, connect businesses, record labels and music rights organisations, with the end goal of supporting the artists who create the music that enriches our souls.

We hope that this quick guide has shed enough light on the issue to help you get started. Check out this flowchart that lists the various options for legally playing music in a business — if you want to see them at a glance.

In the end, creating playlists for your in-store atmosphere should be just as delightful for you as it is for your customers to hear when they walk through your door. With Storeplay Radio, you’ll be able to handle in-store music easily, enjoyably, and stress-free! Get in touch with us and we’ll set you up with the perfect music in minutes!