Understanding Music Public Performance Rights: What You Need to Know

Little is understood about the world of music public performance rights and licensing, but if your business revolves around music and events – you're in the right place…

Most of the confusion stems around these topics:

Who Gets Paid by It?

When Should It Be Obtained?

What Happens if Not Obtained?

Having knowledge of this area and following the rules will prevent infringement lawsuits from being filed against you and ensure that copyright owners get paid appropriate royalties of their work being used.

Hopefully, I can demystify and break this all down for you today!

Side note: closely related to this topic, is performance royalties, so be sure to read up on that in case you are interested.

Understanding Music Public Performance Rights: What You Need to Know

What Are Music Public Performance Rights?

Music public performance rights are the legal rights that allow copyrighted music to be publicly performed.

This includes playing music on radio, television, streaming services, and live performances in front of an audience.

These rights are typically purchased from a variety of organizations such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC.

A public performance license grants permission for a piece of music to be played in public by paying a fee to the copyright holder or their representatives.

This means that any venue or organization who wishes to play copyrighted songs must obtain the appropriate license before they can do so legally.

Without purchasing this license, venues may face fines and other penalties from copyright holders for performing their work without permission.

Music Public Performance Rights: Who Cares?

When discussing public performance rights there are some common questions that come up including: Do I Need One?

Obtaining public performance rights is for anyone who wants to legally play copyrighted music in a public setting or broadcast it online or on radio.

Whether you’re an institution, business, venue, or small indie artist throwing a private event, it's worth checking what type of permission is needed and how to go about obtaining it.

Who Grants Public Performance Rights?

The most common organizations responsible for granting public performance rights are known as Performing Rights Organizations (PROs).

In the United States, these include the ASCAP License For live performance (American Society of Composers Authors & Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.), and SESAC (Society Of European Stage Authors & Composers).

Each PRO is responsible for collecting royalties from businesses when those businesses use songs licensed through them in any form of public performance or broadcast television performances.

For businesses based in the United States, contact ASCAP (1-800-952-7227), BMI (212-220-3000) or SESAC (615–320–0055) for licensing information.

If you are trying to obtain performing rights outside of the US, then contact your local performing rights society.

For web radio originating outside of the US but broadcasted within it, you can call SoundExchange at 202–640—-5858 .

How Do You Obtain Music Public Performance Rights?

In order to obtain public performance rights, you will need to contact one of the PROs listed above directly either online or over the phone.

They will provide you with information about licensing fees and procedures specific to your needs depending on where you plan on using the copyrighted material and how often it will be used in each location/performance/broadcast etc.

Once payment has been made, you can legally use that particular song without fear of facing any fines or lawsuits due to infringement laws protecting intellectual property like copyrights which cover musical compositions including lyrics and melodies within them etc.

Which Businesses Need To Get A License For Playing Copyrighted Songs?

Any business which plays copyrighted music publicly needs some kind of license covering its usage whether it be radio broadcasting stations, physical retail stores selling CDs/vinyls with tracks featured on them etc.

Additionally if someone wants to create a video featuring certain songs they’ll need clearance from both owners;

i) video production company

ii) record label owning recording artist's original track + all relevant publishing companies handling associated songwriters' works, too!

Even smaller operations such as bars hosting karaoke nights could potentially require special permission should they choose not purchase generic ‘blanket’ licenses available through many PROs enabling access multiple titles across vast catalogues simultaneously so long-term cost savings can still occur regardless size operation at hand here!

Are There Any Exceptions To Obtaining A License For Music Public Performance?

Yes, there are certain exceptions where no formal license is required. For example, if music being performed was created prior 1923 then, technically speaking, no license is needed because copyright protections weren't implemented until much later date than this!

These works are considered to be public domain and can be used freely.

Also educational institutions typically don't require licenses since these performances qualify under fair-use regulations protecting noncommercial educational purposes.

However, keep mind most school boards across country have adopted policies requiring such entities acquire blanket licenses anyway just make sure everything remains above board here folks!

Likewise, churches also don’t necessarily require formal permissions showcasing religious hymns during weekly services but again best practice would encourage church officials seek out appropriate guidelines around what exactly constitutes acceptable usage according local governing bodies overseeing same activities accordingly too!

Blanket License What? 🤔

Now, I have mentioned it twice now; what is it?

A blanket license is a type of music license that allows users to gain access to multiple sound recordings from a wide variety of sources, such as record labels and publishing companies.

This sort of license allows smaller operations such as bars hosting karaoke nights, DJs etc, to save money in the long-term while still being able to legally play copyrighted music.

What Does Public Performance License For DJ Cost?

A public performance license for DJs is required to legally play copyrighted music in a public setting and typically costs between $50-$500 depending on the event and venue.

For instance, nightclubs and wedding reception halls could require more costly fees than outdoor festivals or private parties.

It's also possible that venues may mandate extra licensing payments for genres such as hip-hop or rap.

Permission from the copyright holder or representative is also sometimes necessary.

Music Public Performance Rights FAQs

Do you need permission to play music in public?

Yes, you need permission to play music in public. According to the US copyright law, a “public performance” of music includes any music played outside of a normal circle of friends and family that occurs in a public place.

This means that if you plan on performing or playing recorded music at a club, restaurant, concert, on the radio or any other public setting, you must obtain permission from the owner of the music or his representative.

There are some limited exceptions where permission is not required but it is best to check with the relevant authorities before proceeding.

Are public performances copyrighted?

Yes, public performances are copyrighted. The copyright laws protect both the musical composition (the lyrics and musical score) and the sound recording (what we hear).

Therefore, anyone who performs or plays copyrighted music in a public setting must obtain permission from the owner of the music or his representative.

How do you get music rights for performance?

In order to obtain rights for performing copyrighted music in a public setting, you will need to contact either the songwriter/composer directly or their representative such as a publisher or performance rights organization (PRO).

Depending on your situation and type of usage, there may be different types of licenses available so it is important to understand what type of license best suits your needs.

How do you get public performance rights?

To get public performance rights for copyrighted music, you will need to contact either the songwriter/composer directly or their representative such as a publisher or performance rights organization (PRO).

Depending on your situation and type of usage, there may be different types of licenses available so it is important to understand what type of license best suits your needs.

Once you have obtained the necessary permissions from all relevant parties involved then you can legally perform copyrighted songs in a public setting.

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About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

📧 Email Arielle