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Should I use a streaming music service for my business?

using Spotify or streaming services in my business logosWe’re starting to lose count of the number of streaming music services out there today. Some of these include Spotify, Apple Music, Go, Deezer, Slacker, Tidal and about 3 dozen others. Can you play these in your business? The answer is NO. Not legally at least.

It comes down to licensing. These services, either free or premium accounts, are designed for personal use and are not licensed for commercial use. In fact, songs downloaded from iTunes and even playing your old CD’s are not allowed.

The problem lies with paying all the Rights for the music. To be licensed to play in your store, someone needs to pay Performance Rights, [Socan, ReSound] Mechanical Rights [CMRAA-SODRAC] and the copyrights [CONNECT]. Music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal etc do not cover the Mechanical and Copyrights for background music. These streaming services pay a cheaper rate to cover music for personal use only. So Spotify in your car or living room is legal but Spotify in your store is not.

As a business, you may already be aware and paying for performance rights to SOCAN and ReSound. SOCAN collects on behalf of the writers and composers while ReSound collects for the musicians who perform on the song. By paying these two associations it covers your right to air their songs in your business (the performance).

Then, there are (2) two other distinct rights to legally license music in your establishment; the Mechanical and Copyrights. One covers the right to reproduce the music, think of it as “the sheet music”, and the other compensates the owner of the copyright. Mechanical rights [granted by CRMRAA and SODRAC in Canada) is the permission to reproduce a musical work, be it, either physical like a CD, iPod or a stream transmission. The copyright [CONNECT] is the permission to distribute copies of the music and in large part, compensate the record companies who own the copyright to the song. These licenses are not covered by a free or premium Spotify account.

In the US, Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) represent songwriters and music publishers. To legally play music in your business you must pay a fee to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and or Global Music Rights. If you’re using popular music you’ll need to pay all 4.

All these organizations are active in visiting stores, bars, hotels, spas and restaurants and if they discover you have been playing music without paying for the appropriate licenses, you may be slammed with heavy fines. In Canada, some of these rights organizations can go as far back as 10 years and that can turn into a hefty bill.

A look at Spotify’s terms and conditions sec 4 specifies: Spotify Free and Premium accounts are for personal, non-commercial use only. Any use of Spotify – whether you have a free, unlimited or premium account – is not legally licensed for commercial or public use in Canada.

Another major reason you shouldn’t use music streaming services in your business, they are not designed to play in a business. Their playlists include album cuts with expletives, live versions with clapping & chatting and songs of the wrong tempo to meet the objectives of the mood you are trying to achieve. Also, there is the issue of short playlists with high repetition. You’ll also find volume fluctuations between tracks. If you have multi-locations, it’s difficult to maintain consistency and control of what is being played in all your outlets.

cafes imageUse an in-store music service designed and maintained specifically for businesses. At Couture Media, we understand background music for business. Our music library is built on our connections, knowledge, research, experience, music pools and deep diving blogs & independent publishers. We bring our music programming experience to your business and act as your personal music directors to ensure your music is perfect and legal for your brand.  Check out our different solutions that may be right for you.

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