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Business Music Rights: Now 4 Organizations To Pay


Know Your Business Music Rights

ASCAP, BMI, SESAC Joined By Global Music Rights

Playing background music in your office, store, restaurant, hotel, etc. is an important part of your customer experience. Where you get your business music, however, can make a big difference, financially. That’s because all business music must be properly licensed.

To avoid fines, performance rights organizations must be paid. Not just one organization, eigher. In addition to paying ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, you must now pay Global Music Rights, the organization that represents hundreds of artists and writers who have become dismayed with the deals older organizations made on their behalf.

If your business is playing music by Smokey Robinson, The Eagles, Bruno Mars, Jimmy Buffett, The Beatles, Sheryl Crowe, and you’re not paying a music service to cover your fees, you’re on the hook for performance rights payments to Global Music Rights. A partial list of GMR artists is located here: .

Global Music Rights is a for-profit organization that is part of Azoff MSG Entertainment, which is a partnership between Madison Square Garden Company and Irving Azoff’s Azoff Music Management.

Irving Azoff
Irving Azoff, whose Global Music Rights organization represents many popular artists.

Top Music Industry Execs Lead Global Music Rights

Vince Avatello, former ASCAP senior executive who headed up licensing for the oldest of the music rights groups, recently told Easy On Hold that for the last two years ASCAP has been collecting licensing fees for artists they no longer represent.

“Much of the senior management from ASCAP and BMI have resigned in favor of doing business in a new and different way,” Avatello told Easy On Hold.

Former Performing Rights Organization (PRO) executives Randy Grimmett and Sean O’Malley run operations and bring with them more than 30 years of collective experience in music publishing. – GlobalMusicRights.com

Who Must Pay Business Music Rights?

Under the Copyright Law of the United States, the copyright owner of a musical composition has the exclusive right to authorize the public performance of their copyrighted work (17 U.S.C. § 106). This is known as the “Performing Right.” No one can publicly perform copyrighted music without the permission of the copyright owner. Copyright owners have a right to be paid for the use of their intellectual property. – GlobalMusicRights.com

Would You Pay $150,000 to Play One Song?

Your decision to bypass an appropriate music license is illegal. – Global Music Rights

In legal terms, a portion of the U.S. Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C. § 501(a), allows copyright owners to seek damages and fees from any user of their music. An article from Global Music Rights states, “…you may be subject to statutory damages of $150,000 for each song performed without proper authorization…”

In other words, every time you play a song that is not licensed, you run the risk of huge costs as a result. Read about a restaurant that lost such a battle…

Which Business Music Is Illegal?

There are many free or nearly-free sources of business music, but few included payments to all four U.S. based performing rights organizations. Examples of music sources that are not covered:

  • Personal or free Pandora Account
  • Personal or free Spotify Account
  • Personal Sirius/XM Account
  • Internet Radio Station
  • Personal audio files and CDs (even if purchased)
  • Radio station (if over 2,000 S.F. or restaurant over 3,000 S.F.)

Background Business Music Service Exception

An easy way around the hassle of paying four performance rights organizations to comply with U.S. Copyright law is to use a Background Music Service. Such services have their own license agreement with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and Global Music Rights. These special arrangements cover the music licensing for businesses that use the service. Think of these music services as a sort of “clearing house” for all music rights liabilities.If your business is playing music provided by a professional business music service, you won’t need to pay any other organization, and you’ll have someone to go to bat for your if you’re ever asked to pay fees and fines.

Not all business music services are paying Global Music Rights, however. Be sure to ask whether the music service you are considering is paying all four performance rights organizations.

Where Will It End?

There’s no guarantee that another upstart music licensing organization won’t pop up and increase costs for businesses in need of background music. As listeners stopped buying CDs, the shift to the streaming delivery system make accurate tracking and payouts nearly impossible. The move away from the outdated performance rights organizations to something more modern is just another step in the transformation of the music industry to the mobile digital lifestyle.

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