Background music licensing in your business

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I got a call from a car dealership in Montreal asking for details about playing background music in his showroom.

He recently received an invoice from an entity called SOCAN informing him to pay for playing music in his  establishment. This was news to him and he wanted more information.

In 2014, SOCAN launched a campaign to contact retailers across Canada regarding music licensing, so if your business plays copyrighted music for the public, you’ll want to make sure you have obtained the appropriate license (or licenses) in order to do so.

So here’s what you need to know about background music licensing in your business.

What kind of music license do I need and how do I get one?

There are two ways to make sure you are properly licensed to play music in your business.

First Method

The first step is to contact the organizations responsible for granting music-related licensing agreements to secure the appropriate permissions to play copyrighted music.

 There are 3 types of copyright: public performance, mechanical license and the copyright itself.

Public performance license includes getting the permissions from the composers, writers and performers to use their songs in a public setting. These in Canada are handled by SOCAN and ReSound.

The Mechanical license  refers to the reproduction of copyrighted material for commercial purposes with permission from its publisher who controls copyrights associated with it. These in Canada are procured through CMRRA

Finally there’s copyright itself, representing the major record companies, labels, as well as artists and producers who own or control the copyright of the sound recordings. In Canada you can the license directly from CONNECT MUSIC.

Each of these music licensing agencies have their own tariffs depending on how you use music in your business such as dancing, karaoke, live performance or simple background music.

For example, a simple Background Music license with SOCAN would fall under Tariff 15A. It is calculated by the square footage of your business. It is an annual blanket license that allows you to play background music for the public in your establishment. The fee is $1.23 per square meter. These rates change periodically and are spelled out in the copyright board of Canada’s gazette.

Method 2

If you find going about doing it yourself too time consuming or confusing, there are background music suppliers than can help.

Background music suppliers manage and pay all the licensing fees on your behalf. They also include software and features for your playlist creation, add to their extensive libraries with new releases or newly-released classics regularly and provide ready-made playlists that make it easy for you to find what suits your needs best.

You may be surprised to learn that it might be more economical by going with the  background music provider route rather than doing it yourself.

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