If you are the proud owner or renter of a brick and mortar establishment, the chances are you are going to want to play music there. It might be the office stereo, or it might be music for people enjoying a delicious meal.
To be above board in many cases, you are going to need a licence to play music. But that isn’t the only way to support musicians with your business. Here are some things to consider next time you press play on your streaming service.
Here are several ways people play music:
- Through the radio
- Via TV
- MP3 players
- Live Events
- Computer Speakers
All of these are considered as a public performance when played on-premises or with customers and/or staff on the property.
There are some instances when you might be playing music outside of the PRS for Music’s // TheMusicLicence control system, in which case you will need to have permission from the copyright owner’s. The copyright ownership can be incredibly complicated, as you may have learned from the mishandling of De La Soul’s masters. Luckily there are people in the music industry like Benjy Grinberg, fighting for the rights of the musicians.
Why Should I Get A License?
There are no doubt many establishments who have not, and will not ensure that they have the right licenses to play live music. However, in the world of creatives – music, art, words and more. The people behind the works are often getting ripped off. So, aside from being on the right side of the law, a level of respect for a person’s craft is in play here.
In some cases, a musician might waive their rights, which means you can stream the music and play it for the public without requiring a license – but you have to check first.
Do I Need a PLL or PRS License (UK)?
PRS for Music and PPL joined forces to create TheMusicLicence in 2018. TheMusicLicense is simple to apply for; you can do so here: Get TheMusicLicence. If you play or have music performed in your venue, you will almost 100% need this licence.
What If I Don’t Get TheMusicLicence?
“It is your responsibility to ensure that you are properly licensed for any music use taking place at your business or organisation. Playing or performing music without the appropriate licence could amount to copyright infringement. If we have reason to believe that you are using copyright music without an appropriate licence, then we may collect evidence”.
This does mean that if you are found playing music in an establishment for the public, without a licence, you are likely to find yourself faced with a fine. It should be noted that when you pay for music, on Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon, you are only permitted to play this in private. It is personal use only. The cost of your TheMusicLicense will depend on the size of your business, the venue and how you use the music.
Respecting Musicians Intellectual Property
Digital services make it easier than ever to pay a single flat fee per month and have access to thousands of music tracks. Not only that but you are given new music, access to exclusives, and can interact with your favourite musicians via the internet too.
However, we must be still held accountable and stand up for the rights of musicians. There is not only a cultural worth to music, but you’d be hard-pressed to find people who don’t listen to music at some point throughout their working day. Securing a deal with a label has left many musicians without their masters and back catalogues. In many cases, it is often more beneficial for artists to create their network and take charge of sales, and push back a record labels advances. This means it is vital that if you love an artist you support vocally and buy their music too.
But the internet makes it all too easy to steal music, and ignore the rights of the artists.
We must view music as more than just an accompaniment to your work commute, but the product of hard work, sleepless nights and love.
Artists Don’t Get A Fair Deal
Aside from the hungry record labels, in many cases, musicians just aren’t getting a fair deal. The lack of money that flows back to the artists is surprising to many people. Record companies pay upfront for much of the recording work, tours and more. What gets recouped in costs forms from sales, streams, merch and more. The record company typically wants to be paid back for what they spent.
For example, if a record company pays out $100,000 to cover recording and a personal advance. Then they sell $50,000 of music; they owe the record company $50,000. Wild, but true.
The record labels share of the sales will usually be three times that of the artists too. Meaning that while the artist owes $50,000, the record label will be $100,000 upon the deal by the time the artist has then earned $150,000.
Each stream can be a few cents each, so the cash flow ends up pretty dry by the time it gets to the artist.
What Can You Do To Support Musicians?
You can make sure that you are paying for your subscriptions, buy directly from musicians, make sure that as an establishment that plays music you have the right licences.
Sign petitions for the rights of musicians, learn more about the rights (or lack) of for musicians, and use your business to do the right thing.