The Importance of Music Licensing

They say that music soothes the savage beast. Now, we aren’t saying our convention attendees are beasts – but music does add to the overall meeting experience. If you are playing music at your convention, you will need public performance rights. However, your convention manager would go insane trying to obtain public performance rights from every label and publisher. Simplifying the process are two organizations — ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated). Each one manages a catalog of more than 4,000,000 songs.

An association can purchase licenses from ASCAP and BMI for conventions and meetings to broadcast music. The fee is based upon the number of attendees and is paid annually. A report of events held is required to be filed so that the fee can be calculated. The fees are not terribly expensive, i.e., for a meeting of 500 attendees, the cost is approximately $200.

Do you have to obtain these licenses? You certainly don’t. You can obtain music that is produced specifically for meetings and events that are not included in these two organizations’ licenses. However, the music is not easily recognizable and is often similar to elevator music. But if you plan to use popular music by famous artists, you will need to obtain the licenses to avoid paying stiff penalties if you are caught playing music without a license. So, why take the risk? Spend a few hundred dollars to protect your organization and comply with the law, and have happy, rocking attendees!