How to legally play music in your business (and not lose all the good stuff)

Playing music in a business”

For anyone interested in how professional music streaming services handle legal permissions, the rights involved, and what Soundtrack Unlimited’s all about

Posted on February 16, 2022

Music licensing can be really daunting, at first. There’s different rights to think about when music’s used in a public or business spaces. It’s not the same as when you’re home alone, where you can play whatever you want, whenever you want. Isn’t it?

Since the early days when we were still called Spotify for Business, we’ve been helping all kinds of customers solve this problem. We make sure you’re able to legally play music in your business, matching the music with whatever you’re all about, boosting sales and improving morale without losing the choice, customization and personalization you’re used to.

So how does it work? And is it worth it?

The licenses that make playing music in a business legal

Unlike music for personal use, the background music businesses play has to jump through a few more hurdles. That’s because it’s being used in a commercial setting to achieve business goals, not just for personal enjoyment.

There are two kinds of licenses needed in this case. The first is performance and reproduction licenses.

These take care of a song’s composition, the lyrics and a particular sound recording, as well as covering its use for business in the first place. This makes sure that performers, composers and artists get paid royalties if their songs are used, and they’re managed by agencies like ASCAP and BMI.

The second kind of license covers public performance. This is managed by PROs (performing rights organizations), which take into account what your physical business space looks like - how many speakers you’re using, how many people come in daily, that kind of thing. There are different local PROs depending on the country you’re in, and because every business is different, business owners have to sort out these licenses themselves.

So why go to all that effort?

It’s a fineable offense if you’re a business playing music in your space that hasn’t been cleared for commercial use. It’s not a small slap on the wrist either, and fines can range from a few hundred dollars per song, to hundreds of thousands if unauthorized music was found to be knowingly played in your business.

As well as saving yourself from any hot water, you’re saving money and effort, too. When you add up the cost of ASCAP and BMI against a Soundtrack subscription, you’re looking at cutting that cost in half, not just a few cents here and there.

And it’s doing the right thing. To legally play music in your business also means that the artists and bands you want to play get fairly compensated for their work, too.

You want more than just legal music

We want to make it easy and effortless to have the widest selection of licensed, tried and tested music fit for business. You’ve probably already seen that Soundtrack offers the biggest selection of legal music for businesses out there, with 100 million songs. But if that was it, we’d stop there, hand you a big file library and an aux cable.

It’s worth remembering why playing music in commercial spaces is important at all. Here’s Magnus Rydén, Head of Music at Soundtrack.

Music can make a big difference to how customers perceive your venue. The right music can make people like your space more - and spend more money in it.
Magnus Rydén, Head of Music at Soundtrack

That big difference is over 10% in some cases. That’s a serious channel just by itself, and we’ve done our homework to dig into those numbers. Music’s also got a tremendous power to heal. Especially in these last few years, music’s what we’ve used to cope and connect. So, it pays to make it count.

Soundtrack’s tools put you in control

To dig into our own product, the Soundtrack Unlimited plan’s one of the few streaming services that let businesses really customize their licensed music.

You can curate playlists song by song (or just let our AI handle the job for you). You can edit ready-made playlists to quickly build unique combinations you won’t find anywhere else. And there’s on-demand support too, so if there’s a request or you feel like changing it up, you don’t have to wait until a schedule change.

It’s got some of the most autonomous support if you want manual control, with features like importing your personal playlists from Spotify, and any songs we don’t have the rights to use won’t appear on your Soundtrack playlists.

Anyone connected to your Soundtrack account can pick and play any songs you want (not just being stuck with hitting back or next). You get unlimited invites, so you can let anyone you work with jump in and share responsibilities. But it also allows centralized control, so you get full oversight of what’s being played and where.

It takes seconds to sign up, pair your devices, click a few sound tags and drag around schedules to have an entire week’s worth of legal, brand-fit music ready to go. And to be able to use your current laptop, phone or tablet to get started.

Ready to try it out?

Try out Soundtrack Unlimited risk-free for 14 days. The trial lets you do just about everything we just covered, you don’t need a credit card to sign up, and there’s no obligation to stay on after.