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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.

There are several organisations that offer music licensing for businesses, including performance rights organisations (PROs) like SACEM (France), GEMA (Germany), PRS for Music (UK) and SIAE (Italy). These organisations 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 licences from these organisations to legally use their catalogue of music.

The cost of a music licence for businesses can vary based on factors such as the size of the business, the type of music being used, and the scope of the licence. However, the cost of obtaining a licence is often outweighed by the benefits of legally using music to enhance the customer experience and create a welcoming environment for patrons.

€750 – €300,000

Range of fines per incident for unauthorised performances of musical works.

Here are a few examples of just how steep the fines can get.

  • “Hotel Jardín Tropical” fined €200,000 by the Spanish music rights organisation, SGAE. (Source: El País, “El Hotel Jardín Tropical deberá pagar 200.000 euros por la música de sus actos,” March 16, 2015)
  • “La Suite” nightclub in France fined €10,000 by SACEM, the French music rights organisation. (Source: France Bleu, “Lourde amende pour la discothèque La Suite à Toulouse pour diffusion de musique sans licence,” February 10, 2021)
  • Greek nightclub “Bolivar Beach Bar” fined €30,000 by the Greek music rights organisation, AEPI. (Source: Greek City Times, “Bolivar Beach Bar in Greece hit with €30,000 fine for playing music without permission,” October 20, 2020)
  • UK bar fined £10,000 by the UK music rights organisation, PRS for Music. (Source: Lancashire Telegraph, “Darwen bar owner ordered to pay £10,000 for playing music without a licence,” May 22, 2019)


Music licensing is 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 (usually the composer, songwriter, or publisher) and the party seeking to use the music (such as a film, TV show, advertising agency, or streaming service).

There are many different types of music licences, each of which grants different rights and imposes different restrictions on the use of the music. For example, a synchronisation licence allows the music to be used in a visual medium like a film or TV show, while a mechanical licence allows the music to be reproduced and distributed in a physical or digital format like a CD or MP3. There are also licensing agreements for streaming music services as well as live music performances.

Music licensing can be a complex process, requiring negotiations between the owner of the music and the licensee to determine the scope of the licence 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 monetise their work and allowing businesses and organisations to legally use music in their productions.


Direct licensing of music refers to the process of obtaining permission to use copyrighted music directly from the owner of the musical composition or recording, rather than through a third-party licensing organisation like a performance rights organisation (PRO). This approach allows for more flexibility in negotiating the terms of the licence, and may result in lower licensing fees compared to using a PRO.

Direct licensing can be a more efficient and cost-effective method for businesses, film and television production companies, and other entities that require music licences, 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 licence, and ensure that all necessary permissions 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.

Direct licensing of 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 authoriwed 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 Organisations (PROs). The four biggest PROs in Europe are SACEM (France), GEMA (Germany), PRS for Music (UK) and SIAE (Italy), but there are many more across other European countries. 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 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 favourite 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 organisations that represent the interests of music creators and publishers, and provide licences 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 organisations (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 SACEM (France), GEMA (Germany), and PRS for Music (UK).

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, Killer Tracks, and Jingle Punks.

Sync licensing companies: Sync licensing companies specialise 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 licences that allow their music to be used in these productions. Examples of sync licensing companies include Musicbed, Songtradr, and Marmoset.

Direct licensing companies: Direct licensing companies facilitate the direct licensing of music between the owner of the music and the licensee, allowing for more flexibility and customization in the licensing agreement. Examples of direct licensing companies include Kobalt, Sentric Music, and Music Gateway.

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 SACEM?

Founded in 1851, SACEM is a French professional association collecting payments of artists’ rights and distributing the rights to the original songwriters, composers, and music publishers. It is a non-profit non-trading entity counting 196,700 members and more than 50 international partners.

What is GEMA?

GEMA is a German collective management organisation and a fiduciary trustee for more than 85,000 members which include composers, lyricists, music publishers, and legal successors of the mentioned groups.

What is PRS for Music?

PRS for Music is a British music copyright collective, made up of two collection societies: the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society and the Performing Right Society. It undertakes collective rights management for musical works on behalf of its 160,000 members, paying royalties when their work is performed, broadcast, streamed, downloaded, reproduced, played in public or used in film and TV.

What is SIAE?

Founded in 1882, the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (Italian: Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori), commonly known by its acronym SIAE, is the Italian copyright collecting agency. It is the intermediary between the authors of music and consumers, managing the economic aspects and the distribution of money from royalties of Italian-copyrighted music to authors and on their behalf.


To get licensed music, you need to obtain permission from the owner of the music (usually the composer, 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 licence you need: There are various types of licences for music, including synchronisation (sync) licences for use in audiovisual productions, mechanical licences for reproducing and distributing music recordings, and performance licences for live performances or public broadcasts. Determine which type of licence 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 composer, 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 licence, including the scope of the licence, the compensation or royalties to be paid, and any other terms or conditions.

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

Businesses can work directly with a music licensing company or service, such as a performance rights organisation (PRO) or a sync licensing company, to obtain the necessary licences for your intended use of the music. These organisations can help you identify the owner of the music, negotiate the terms of the licence, 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 business.

Contact us for more information about our music solutions.

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