The ways to play music legally in your business

Everyone enjoys background music, whether in a shop, lift, bar or restaurant. However, if you want to play background music, would you know what to do to comply with the law? Here we look at the options.

According to the BBC, YouTube is about to start cashing in on the music streaming business by launching a streaming service to rival Apple Music and Spotify. However, if you are a business, you need to be wary of using streaming services, as you may still be falling foul of copyright laws.


An alternative to a streaming service is to sign up to a music for business subscription service that has been designed specifically for business use. Such a service can provide you with lots of music which you know has already been licensed.

Additionally, if you use a service such as, they can not only provide your music but may also be able to create a playlist that fits in with your business and may help with business growth and brand awareness.

Music for free

Any music that is in the public domain is free from royalty fees, which means you will be able to save some money. If you decide to go down this route, you need to ensure that the music you want to play really is in the public domain, as if you play music that isn’t – even by mistake – it could mean you having to pay a large fine. Music that is freely available via this route might not always be the best quality and the quantity of music available will be restricted.

Licensing music

There are two different ways of licensing music. One is to try and make an arrangement with independent record labels and/or artists. This can work if you are a local business and are keen to promote local musicians. The alternative is to obtain a business music license from ASCAP or BMI. This means you will have a large variety of music to play and you can be sure that you are allowed to play it.

If you own a business and you want to play background music, then hopefully this has helped you to understand the limits and restrictions in place, and what you need to do in order to do this legally.


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