If you have a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, café, or other venue streaming music in the background, do you know if you need a license to play songs? Maybe. Maybe not. The laws surrounding music and licensing can be pretty complicated. The public performance of sound recordings (and/or musical works embodied therein) require synchronization and statutory license to use lawfully. A business that uses music for public performance needs to pay to owners of the songs.
Do You Need a License to Stream Spotify in Your Restaurant?
This is the question that many restaurants are asking themselves. Streaming music is a great way to provide ambient background noise to your customers, but it can also be expensive and complicated. Do you need a license to stream Spotify playlists in your restaurant? The answer is not as simple as you might think.
The Copyright Act lays out the rules governing public performances in the US. Playing background music at restaurants without permission is considered an illegal performance and could land you in legal trouble with any and all copyright holders. However, if you have rights holders’ permission, you’re free to play their music without fear of reprisal.
So, what does this mean for restaurants? Playing music at your restaurant without permission can leave you vulnerable to lawsuits from the owners of the rights of the songs being played in your establishment. These lawsuits can be costly and time-consuming, so it’s better to play it safe and get permission from artists before playing their music at your restaurant or bar.
Lack of Proper Licensing Means You Are Violating Copyright Laws and The Law
Music licensing is a legal framework that allows businesses to use copyrighted material in various ways. Without proper licensing, businesses risk violating copyright laws and getting sued by the copyright holder.
The most common types of music licensing agreements include:
Streaming music services like Pandora and Spotify require licenses from record labels and publishers so they can legally stream their music to listeners. These licenses are typically negotiated on an individual basis.
Podcasts also require licenses because they use existing recordings of other people’s audio, such as interviews with authors or musicians and news stories about current events. Podcasts are licensed through PROs (performing rights organizations) such as SoundExchange, which is owned by SoundExchange Inc., BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.), and ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers). A PRO collects royalties from broadcasters who play their members’ songs or shows on air or over the Internet; these royalties then go back to artists each month based on how many times their songs were played.
What Is the Result of Not Getting a License?
If you don’t get a music license, you are violating the rights of the owner of the music and may be sued for copyright infringement. A lawsuit from an owner of copyrighted music can cost tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and damages, including lost revenue. Customers in turn may avoid your restaurant due to any bad reviews from angry musicians or fans who listen to their music, along with seeing public lawsuits circulate online.
You may think this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have any speakers installed in your restaurant. However, this is still considered a public performance even if you only play background music. This means that if you are streaming music from an online service or playing CDs instead, there’s a chance that you could be violating copyright laws without realizing it. And without realizing it, they could be hit with a hefty fine for each song played.
Artists Rely on Streaming Income
The music industry has changed a lot since the days of CDs and cassettes. Today, streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music are all the rage and offer huge revenue streams for artists. Streaming is such an important source of income for artists that artists and labels have sued Spotify over royalty payments.
You might think that you don’t need a license for your business because you own a restaurant and use streaming services to play music. But it’s not that simple — if you want to use music in your restaurant without infringing on anyone’s copyrights, you should know what licenses are required for businesses like yours.
The Soundtrack Your Brand Music Solution
In summary, if you are in the food services industry and want to stream music from a service such as Spotify, you should first investigate and understand how to do so legally. Proper music licensing will only result in your paying fines, maybe losing your business and losing out on potential profit.
At a minimum, you should consider looking deeper into Soundtrack Your Brand, as they offer a wide range of services that will give your business the most comprehensive catalog of top artists, songs, and Spotify playlists. From custom music libraries to curated playlists and licensed background music for restaurants, they’ve got you covered. Their music licensing experts have years of experience helping restaurants like yours tap into their unique soundtracks and reach new heights of success!
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