WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MUSIC LICENSING FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Are you playing background music in your store? Then you should know that what you’re doing might be illegal. 

We get it, you need some good tunes playing while your customers shop and if you want to create a pleasant mood that keeps consumers engaged and in-store for longer. 

And you’ve also got so many other things you need to handle for your business, that music certainly can’t be at the top of your priority list now, right?

Well, in this article, we’d like to make a case for why this is a matter that is worth your attention and how you can avoid legal headaches, hefty fines and hurting your reputation by taking a few simple precautions for your store or restaurant. 

Let’s get into it. 🎶

Can I legally stream Spotify or Apple Music for my business?

The short answer is no

Streaming platforms like Apple Music, Tidal, Pandora, Spotify (and others) are built strictly for consumers, not for businesses. 

In other words, these services only provide a license for non-commercial use in a private setting. Playing these tracks in public, particularly if you’re gaining any sort of profit from it, comes with a whole host of legal implications. 

So, how do I pay and stay covered?

It’s simple - if you want to use music that you’ve bought for your business, you need a Public Performance License. This allows you to play songs in-store without any legal trouble and can last you up to one year (and can be extended after). 

In the past, business owners were unable to legally use music in-store (even when purchased) without violating copyright laws. However, since 1st July 2019, you are now able to use tracks that you’ve bought on CD or via iTunes. 

This new type of licensing scheme is distributed by OneMusic in Australia and it typically costs $340 annually, as part of your Public Performance License. 

For the retail industry, these are the three options you can choose from:

  1. Silver License: required if you pay to use a background music supplier.
  2. Gold License: also allows you to use tracks you’ve purchased, but is more expensive than Silver (costs $340 more to be precise). 
  3. Bronze License: the cheapest alternative, but also the most limited one, only viable for music played through a TV or radio. 

The first two options also allow you to play songs from the following sources:

  • CDs, vinyl records or other recorded music format
  • An internet TV service
  • A commercial background music supplier

Although the Gold License can seem more advantageous since it gives you the option to copy music, it makes more sense to go with the Silver License. Why?

Because the $340 you save by purchasing Silver instead of Gold can be used to offset the amount of money you’d be paying for your in-store music. For storePlay, this would start at about $420 or only $90 GST Inclusive per store annually. 

Once you factor in the time it takes your team to source the music, the cost of purchasing that music and the lack of control - using an enterprise platform like storePlay makes complete sense.

Put simply, this license will ensure that you can play virtually any commercially released music for your business. But whatever the type of OneMusic license you choose, is the monthly cost really worth it? 👇

What if I don’t pay? (the risks of copyright infringement)

It can be tempting to put this somewhere on the bottom of your to-do list and forget about it. But it’s not a rare occasion for business owners to get fined with thousands of dollars for doing the same. 

Here is what you are risking if you overlook the legal aspects of background music:

  • Fines for playing music without a license in-store can range anywhere between $750 and $150,000 per song played

  • Artists have huge followings and powerful public voices. If they’re offended by your use of their music, they can cause an outrage in the media, speak badly about your company or products and send a mob of angry fans your way. 

  • If your infraction makes it to the large public, your reputation will be smeared and your sales and customer loyalty will suffer.

  • If you think it’s safe to just “take your chances”, you should know that when PRO organizations do finally catch brands playing unlicensed music, they make examples out of it - this means higher damages for you and potential lawsuits.  

The bottom line

The main argument for using licensed in-store music is this: the risks far outweigh the costs. If it’s inconvenience that keeps you from taking action or you simply don’t have the time to deal with these idiosyncrasies as well on top of your other responsibilities, know that there are professionals who can help you out. 

At storePlay, we cover royalties on all our music and take care of all the legal hassle so you don’t have to. You can find out more about what we do here