Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Four important tips to navigate restaurant and bar music licensing fees



It’s no secret that most patrons are looking for a certain ambiance when they select a venue for a night out; the right music is the most important ingredient in creating the perfect vibe. However, restaurants and bars without licensing fees risk losing the important background music that sets the tone for your guests’ experiences.

What’s a bar or restaurant without music? Background music licensing fees for bars and restaurants can seem complicated or frustrating—but they don’t have to be. controlPLAY can help you understand and navigate the requirements and limitations of your bar and restaurant’s music licensing fees.


  1. Know who’s in charge

  2. In the USA, most public music is licensed through ASCAP, BMI or SESAC: professional organizations who act as agents for their members (publishers, composers and songwriters) to negotiate the music license agreements and fees that protect artists’ work.  Building a rich playlist with a variety of music often means you’ll face bar or restaurant music licensing fees from each organization.

    However, controlPLAY makes music licensing easy for you— we have agreements with all three organizations, which allow our clients to play licensed music without the hassle.

  3. Know what you DON’T get

  4. So you have a standard music license—that means you can hire a live band and set up a karaoke night, right?

    Well, the answer is: probably not.

    A standard background music license for a bar or restaurant usually doesn’t give your establishment the right to:

    • engage a DJ to play music
    • hire a live band to perform
    • use a karaoke service
    • charge a cover
    • utilize any other music sources such as radio, television, CD, karaoke or MP3 players

    That’s right, even playing music off your iPod requires a special license.

  5. Know your TV limitations

  6. Most standard music licenses don’t include music or music videos from TV programming.

    According to the National Restaurant Association, if your restaurant or bar is 3,750 square feet or larger, you’ll need a special public performance rights agreement if you’re using any of the following:

    • more than four TVs
    • more than one TV in any one room
    • any TV with a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches
    • if any audio from the TV is put out by more than six loudspeakers, or four loudspeakers in any one room or outdoor space
    • if there is a cover charge

    It’s a lot to remember, but it doesn’t have to be complicated…

  7. Make it easy on yourself

  8. Save yourself the headaches and let us take care of your restaurant or bar’s background music licensing for you. For more information about controlPLAY and music licensing for your restaurant or bar, visit controlplay.com or contact us directly at info@controlplay.com.




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