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Most music is copyrighted and illegal to play without the right permissions.

Music licensing for businesses gives permission to use copyrighted music in commercial settings, such as retail stores, restaurants, or other public venues, while avoiding costly fines.

In need of fully-licensed music for your business? Contact us today.


Music licensing for businesses is important because the use of copyrighted music without permission can result in legal consequences and potential fines. When it comes to playing music in your business, you can’t just plug in an aux cable into your phone and call it a day. By obtaining the appropriate licenses, businesses can ensure they are legally using the music they play and avoid potential legal issues.

Several organizations offer music licensing for businesses, including performance rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP, BMI, GMR & SESAC. These organizations work with music creators and publishers to collect and distribute royalties to them when their music is publicly performed, such as in a business setting. Businesses can obtain licenses from these organizations to legally use their catalog of music.

The cost of a music license for businesses can vary based on factors such as the type of service the business is providing. For example, depending on if it is a retail store, fitness class, live music performance, or a DJ set, can change the scope of the license. However, the cost of obtaining a license is often outweighed by the benefits of legally using music to enhance the customer experience and create a welcoming environment for patrons.


Music licensingis the process of obtaining permission from the owner of a copyrighted musical composition to use that music in a certain way. This permission is typically granted through a licensing agreement between the owner of the music, such as the Record labels, Publishers, Indie artists, and writers, and the party seeking to use the music, like retail outlets, television, radio, and music venues.

There are many different types of music licenses, each of which grants different rights and imposes different restrictions on the use of the music. For example, a retail music license grants permission for the music to be played only in that environment, and is limited for that commercial use only.

Music licensing can be a complex process, requiring negotiations between the music’s owner and the licensee to determine the scope of the license and the appropriate compensation for the use of the music. However, it is an essential part of the music industry, allowing artists and creators to monetize their work and allowing businesses and organizations to use music in their productions legally. You must have coverage from labels, publishers, and public performance organizations to provide music legally. Streaming licenses are covered through SoundExchange, which offers coverage of musical content for non-interactive use. The user still must obtain public performance licenses.

Rights Included Music (Royalty Free)

Rights included music is where the owner of music content controls all the rights and has not registered the copyrights with any public performance societies. This limits the need to require a public performance license as long as the music played is not mixed with other copyright owners who have registered their content. They provide a direct license which allows for more flexibility in negotiating the terms of the license and may result in lower licensing fees compared to using a PRO.

Direct licensing with the content owner can be a more efficient and cost-effective method for businesses, film and television production companies, and other entities that require music licenses, especially if they have specific needs or preferences for the music they want to use. With direct licensing, the licensee can negotiate directly with the owner of the music and work out an agreement that meets their specific needs and budget.

However, direct licensing can also be more complex and time-consuming than using a PRO. The licensee must identify the owner of the music they want to use, negotiate the terms of the license, and ensure that all necessary permissions, royalty statements, and payments are made. This can be challenging, especially for smaller businesses or individuals without experience in music licensing.

How to Get a Music License

Thankfully, companies like Mood Media specialize in providing background music to businesses, and in the process, handle all of the legal aspects, such as copyright, and financial aspects like licensing fees that are associated with licensed music for business. Working with a professional music provider is a great solution for many business owners, especially small businesses and franchise owners.

When working with a music provider, you are also afforded the ability to select music that is appropriate for your brand identity. Experts in the music industry can work hand in hand with your business to ensure that the music you choose to play at your business location fits the sound of your brand, engages your audience, and drives positive results.

Additionally, when you choose to work with a background music provider, the music you play is not only fully licensed, but also ad-free, and screen for inappropriate content and lyrics. This means that you are sure to play music that is appropriate for businesses.

Rights Inclusive music provides an alternative to using a PRO and can be a useful option for those who require more flexibility and customization in their music licensing arrangements.

Click below to learn more about how to create the right sound for your business.


While you may pay for a personal subscription streaming service such as Apple Music or Spotify, those personal music services are not authorized for use in a commercial environment. To play music in-store, or anywhere in public for that matter, you are required to pay a licensing fee.

$2.6 Billion

amount of lost revenue due to unpaid licensing

A music licensing fee allows the artists, authors, composers, and publishers to be compensated for their music. These fees are handled by what are known as Performance Rights Organizations (PROs). The four biggest PROs are ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and GMR. Businesses can be subject to significant fees and legal penalties if they don’t secure the proper rights to the music they play.

Another thing to consider is that, aside from live shows and merchandise, licensing fees are one of the few ways artists can make money from their music. Not only is it illegal to play music that is not specifically licensed for business, but it also robs the artists and musicians of income that rightfully belongs to them. In fact, over a billion dollars of revenue is lost from unlicensed music each year.

Artists deserve to be fairly compensated for the use of their work. Using a music source specifically designed to provide music to businesses helps ensure the artist community is supported and that your business is protected.

Before you connect your Bluetooth speakers and start playing your favorite playlist, be sure to cover your bases to avoid paying unwanted fines. Paying for a music for business subscription handles the payment of these licensing fees on your behalf. Not only do you avoid hefty fines, it’s the right thing to do.


Music licensing companies are organizations that represent the interests of music creators and publishers, and provide licenses for the use of their music. These companies work with businesses, film and television production companies, and other entities to obtain the necessary permissions to use copyrighted music legally.

There are several types of music licensing companies, including:

Performance rights organizations (PROs): PROs are responsible for collecting and distributing royalties to music creators and publishers when their music is publicly performed, such as in a business setting. Examples of PROs include ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and GMR.

Music libraries: Music libraries are collections of pre-cleared music that can be licensed for use in various productions, such as films, television shows, commercials, and video games. Examples of music libraries include Audio Network, UPM, and Jingle Punks.

Sync licensing companies: Sync licensing companies specialize in licensing music for use in visual media, such as films, television shows, and commercials. They work with music creators and publishers to negotiate sync licenses that allow their music to be used in these productions. Examples of sync licensing companies include Musicbed, Songtradr, and Marmoset.

Overall, music licensing companies play an important role in the music industry by facilitating the legal use of copyrighted music and ensuring that music creators and publishers are properly compensated for their work.

What is ASCAP?

Founded in 1914, ASCAP stands for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. It is one of the leading performance rights organizations (PROs) in the United States, representing more than 750,000 music creators, including songwriters, composers, and music publishers. ASCAP represents a wide range of genres, including classical, jazz, and musical theater.

What is BMI?

Founded in 1939, BMI stands for Broadcast Music, Inc. It is one of the leading performance rights organizations (PROs) in the United States, representing over 1.1 million music creators, including songwriters, composers, and music publishers. BMI tends to have a stronger focus on popular music genres, such as rock, pop, hip-hop, and country.

What is SESAC?

SESAC (originally the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers) is a performance rights organization (PRO) in the United States. It represents over 30,000 music creators, including songwriters, composers, and music publishers. SESAC was founded in 1930.

What is GMR?

Global Music Rights, the first US PRO in nearly 75 years, was founded in 2013 by industry veteran Irving Azoff as an alternative to the traditional performance rights model.

What is SoundExchange?

SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization (PRO) in the United States that collects and distributes digital performance royalties for sound recordings. It was created by the U.S. Congress in 1995 as a response to the rapid growth of digital music distribution.

SoundExchange collects royalties on behalf of recording artists and sound recording copyright owners (usually record labels) when their sound recordings are played on digital platforms such as internet radio, satellite radio, and music streaming services. It is responsible for tracking and collecting royalties for digital performances of sound recordings under the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


To get licensed music, you need to obtain permission from the owner of the music (usually the Label, songwriter, or publisher) to use their music in the way that you intend to use it. Here are the general steps to follow:

Determine the type of license you need: There are various types of licenses for music, Master and mechanical licenses for reproducing and distributing music recordings, and public performance licenses. Determine which type of license you need based on how you plan to use the music.

Identify the owner of the music: Determine who owns the rights to the music you want to use. This can be done by researching the Label, songwriter, or publisher, or by using a music licensing company or service that can help you identify the owner.

Contact the owner of the music: Reach out to the owner of the music and explain the intended use of their music. Negotiate the terms of the license, including the scope of the license, the compensation or royalties to be paid, and any other terms or conditions.

Obtain the license: Once the terms have been agreed upon, obtain a written license agreement that outlines the terms of the license. Pay any necessary fees or royalties, and ensure that you have the proper documentation to prove that you have obtained the necessary license.

Businesses can work directly with a music licensing company or service, such as a performance rights organization (PRO) to obtain the necessary licenses for your intended use of the music. These organizations can help you identify the owner of the music, negotiate the terms of the license, and ensure that you have the proper documentation to legally use the music.

For businesses wishing to play music on-premise, owners may find that the best solution is to work with a music for business provider. A background music provider will not only deliver high-quality music that is deemed appropriate for business use, but will also handle the licensing and legal aspects necessary to broadcast music within your retail business.


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