Performing or Playing Music in Public? Think Again before You Do

Music licensing is pretty straightforward but not so simple that it’s intuitive. If for instance that your company is sharing music over external platforms such as in a conference, advertisement or the internet, there is a big probability that the usage of that “music” will demand a license. Even if your firm only shares music within your organization, still you may be subject to certain licensing requirements.

Among the steps to better understand music licensing is to know the difference between sound recording and song.

What’s a Recorded Song?                                    

When talking about the latter, there are two unique copyrights applied and these are:

  1. Copyright in the song that has accompanying lyrics and melody and;
  2. Separate copyright in sound recording which is basically the song’s recorded rendition

Almost always, there’s going to be separate individuals who own the song as well as the sound recording.

The copyright of the song on the other hand is owned either by the music publishing of the songwriter or the songwriter themselves.

Sound recording on the other hand may be owned by record label that has released the recording. Public performance of a given song will usually require a license. On one hand, the license requirement in performing sound recording in a public space are a lot more limited and is only applicable when the sound recording public performance is being offered by way of digital or the internet.

Say that a song is played in a retail store, restaurant or conference; all of these are deemed to be public performances of the song regardless if it’s performed by any of the following:

  • CD
  • DJ
  • Live band or
  • Played through smartphone

At the end of the day, that performance will require license for public performance.

Regulatory Bodies for Public Performances

Majority of the licenses are being issued by any of the PRO’s or Performing Rights Organization and if you’re in the US, these will be:

  • ASCAP
  • BMI
  • SESAC
  • GMR

Each of this PRO has control of distinctive song catalogs much like how professionals teach people on the proper use of steroide and maximize its benefits. In most case, PRO will be issuing blank licenses enabling performers to play the song in public under that PRO’s catalog.