Why do I need to pay for music ?

Human emotion is influenced by the five basic senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.  The mind trusts a place of business that ensures these senses are appeased.  That’s why florists greet visitors with the smell and sight of brightly-colored fresh flowers, hospitals with white walls and floors that inspire cleanliness and photographs of happy patients on the walls, and banks with impressionable staff looking all business to inspire trust.

Music is best described as an expression of emotion.  We use music at every customer touchpoint; hold music when the customer calls in and soft music that plays in the background when the customer visits your place of business.  Music sets the mood – peppy music helps customer shop, soft music soothes customer emotions as they wait on the phone to be attended, and classical music in hotel lobbies gives visitors a feeling of grandeur.  Some coffee shops have the radio on while bars have the game on TV so customers can cheer their teams on while chugging down drinks.

The Human voice is definitely the first musical instrument known to man; be it humming or whistling for entertainment, or calls used when hunting for game.  What was once as a way to lure game during a hunt went on to be widely used in religious ceremonies through the ages and eventually an agent of change – ‘We Shall Overcome’ was a rallying cry for the US Civil Rights Movement.

The music that we play is owned by someone and has to be paid for – hold music, background music, and even the radio or the ball game playing on multiple screens in the bar.  There is a royalty that is paid to copyright (yes, the ‘right’ to ‘copy’) the performance to the owner of the music – the musician himself, his successors, or his publishers.  This is usually done with the help of a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) like BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC that enables us to use these works publicly.   They are charged with collecting royalties for songwriters and publishers for “public performances” of songs in their respective catalogs. A public performance occurs whenever a song is played on the radio, television, or the internet, as is also music (live or recorded) in public spaces, such as restaurants. While many businesses aren’t aware of these rules, entertainment attorneys say that lawsuits to enforce these licensing requirements are increasingly common, and these lawsuits are intended to spread the word that performing such music without permission is a federal offense.

Both ASCAP and BMI employ investigators to roam the country identifying new restaurants, bars, and clubs or other establishments where music is used. Venue owners are required to purchase a license, typically for a single annual fee based on the size, seating capacity and type of venue.  Restaurants have been fined as much as $30,450 for ‘four illegally played songs’.  In this case, BMI said it had tried contacting the North Carolina restaurant, Fosters, to collect a yearly fee of $6,060.  More recently, Tadpole’s Bar and Restaurant in Brandon had to close in light of the $30,000 settlement for not paying BMI licence fees for songs a band performed on a Friday night in 2014.

So while it is perfectly acceptable to blast music from the music CD in your car, you may need a licence to play the CD in your restaurant.   Streaming playlists directly from youtube onto the speakers is neither robust solution, not a legal one.  Stores under 2,000 square feet and restaurants or bars under 3,750 square feet are currently allowed to play music from a radio, television, or similar household device without a license, provided there are fewer than six speakers (with limits on the placement of speakers), and as long as there is no cover fee to enter the establishment.  The licensed music arrangement fee is based on the Fire Department’s occupancy rate of the establishment.

While some establishments do prefer a licensing arrangement directly with the PRO, there are excellent solutions like Jukeboxy on the market that give you access to over 25 million fully-licenced songs in professionally curated playlists.  Jukeboxy is just $29.95 a month vis-à-vis the $400 a month that ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC currently charge (yes, you do need separate licensing arrangements with each of these three providers).  The Jukeboxy Manager App is a robust application that ensures that you know what is playing on your speakers with the click of a button; only you, as the manager, can change playlists.  This ensures that members of your staff do not end up playing DJ and can focus on just handling customers.  Don’t know which playlist to play?  Find over 100 playlists confusing?  Just choose a playlist appropriate to your venue – Coffee Shop, Hotel, Lounge, or Office.  Lazy afternoon and need to pump up the adrenalin?  Choose the ‘Crowd Moving’ or ‘Current Club Hits’.  You can also choose something straight out of the Genre’s list – 70s rock, Lounge, Latin ; you name it!  Still need something special?  Jukeboxy will whip it up for you in time for the weekend!  See our ‘Venue Sponsored Playlists’ section to see more.

Restaurants and pubs will find Jukeboxy’s Scheduling Tool very useful – It allows the specials to be displayed on the screen at regular intervals so patrons know exactly what they want to order next! Departmental stores can have an audio message announcing deals at scheduled intervals.  Throw in Jukeboxy’s state of art customer service team, and you have everything you need.

Sign up for Jukeboxy right here

 

Image Credit: Jesse Kruger

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. ASCAP sues 10 venues nationwide for not being licensed to play music – jukeboxynews

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