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On Hold Music Licensing Guide

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Easy On Hold offers only properly licensed hold music for callers waiting on-hold. If your office is playing on music on your phone hold button and you're not sure if it is properly licensed, take a moment to review this information. Radio or CD music on hold must be licensed. If you have a custom made on hold message production in use on your phone lines, it is your responsibility to be an informed consumer.

Using A Music On Hold Provider

  • Make sure your on hold music provider is actually paying the licences for the on hold music that you use. As your on hold message service, Easy On Hold makes sure that all music included in our productions is properly licensed.
  • Once you have begun to use the services of Easy On Hold, you do not need any additional license for using music on your telephone on-hold system, however music used at multiple locations do require additional fees.
  • Background or overhead music is not covered by your Easy On Hold purchase. Playing recorded music in your business (for employees, patients, visitors, shoppers, etc.) requires a license. The only exceptions are for demonstration purposes (such as audio equipment sales).

Permission Needed for Background Hold Music

When your business uses music-on-hold you must first obtain permission from the copyright owners for the use of that music in your business. To accomplish this you would have to determine who the songwriters and publishers are for each song you want to use and then negotiate a fee with each of them in order for you to play their copyrighted music legally. Licensing firms such as BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) offer contracts known as a Music Performance Agreement. To cover the use of the music, you will be asked to pay an annual fee which authorizes you to use copyrighted musical works. Such a payment covers only music from those writers and artists affiliated with BMI.

So you say you like dance music, or rock, maybe a pop sound, or country or jazz music... Easy On Hold licenses over 5,000 pieces of music annually, yet Easy On Hold customers never need to pay a licensing fee for on hold music tracks. The extensive Easy On Hold library includes every style from techno to smooth jazz, to acoustic rock, easy listening, rhythm and blues, classical, and even bluegrass, funk, latin and world beat, new age and more. The tunes Easy On Hold selects are all are high quality, digital music tracks.

What About Music I Have Paid For?

Why should you have to pay record companies or music publishers to use the music on CDs or mp3s you own? The law says there's a difference between owning a CD and owning the songs ON the CD. Additionally, there's an important distinction of what constitutes a public performance of a copyrighted musical work. Most people remember the Napster case, whereby the general public became aware that paying for a CD doesn't include the right to make copies. The record companies got involved because copyright infringement threatens their industry. The writers are involved because, legally, the songwriter, (the person who composed the music) actually retains ownership of the songs that you buy when you purchase a CD. Buying a CD only allows your private listening use. Playing music in your business is not private, but a public performance.

What About Radio: Aren't Stations Licensed?

If your hold music system is currently using a local radio station, you may be under the impression that you don't need a music license. Perhaps you believe that radio stations are already licensed. It's true that radio broadcast stations are licensed to perform the music they carry on their airwaves, but your phone system is technically creating a RE-broadcast. Radio phone on hold music is considered an unlicensed, separate performance under the copyright law.

Who Gets Licensing Fees?

Licensing organizations collect and distribute music licensing fees. After paying for their own (non profit) operating expenses, which is currently about 15%, composers, songwriters, and publishers receive a share. Those businesses that do not pay the proper fees may face penalties for copyright infringement. BMI states the situation this way, "Isn't it only fair that the creators of the music you use to enhance your business - the songwriters, composers, and publishers - are compensated as any other businessperson would be for the part they play in your success?"

Consider the power of the spoken word, added to properly licensed music. Custom message on hold creative work can be tailored to your location, your special offers and in a way that helps you build a better relationship with callers. That's something a radio station or music alone can't do!

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