Legal Music For Business

How to avoid fines from Performance Rights Organizations. Try Brandi free for 14 days..

Music Licensing: We Know What You Need To Know

Did you hear about the restaurant that received a letter demanding thousands of dollars for playing three songs? It's true. The business owner sourced his own music and neglected to pay proper licensing.

Why do businesses need to pay performance rights for music played in their space? First, you need to know that playing music in a place where people gather is considered a public performance. When you purchase an audio .mp3 or CD, you are buying for personal use only.

When you use Brandi Music, you're covered by the license agreements Brandi has with the performance rights organizations. We report and pay fees on your behalf!

Streaming services are not licensed for public use. To quote the agreement you made with Pandora when you signed up for that personal account, "...for your own personal, non-commercial purposes...". Spotify says, "Spotify is for personal entertainment only and not for commercial use. This means it can’t be played in public places such as bars, restaurants, stores, schools, etc.".

Can I Pay My Own Licenses to ASCAP For Business Music?

Yes, you can directly pay a performance rights organization (PRO)for music licensing, however, there are four music licensing organizations in the USA: ASCAP, BMI, GMR and SESAC. You will need a separate agreement with each of these PROs. It's possible to register with just one of these, however many songs have mutliple PRO coverage (publisher/composer). Sorting all this out would be a full time job. Also, you will need to file reports with each organization as well. Why not use a professional licensed business music service to save time and money? That's why we created Brandi Music.

Can a Business Really Get Fined For Playing Music Without A License?

"Oh, it'll close a business," said copyright attorney Rick Matthews in WRAL-TV news interview. He was talking about that restaurant that refused to pay the licenses. The PROs have sued dozens of restaurants and bars, and actually have undercover investigators making visits to establishments throughout the USA.

Damages range from $750 per violation (per song played without a license)up to $150,000, as reported by Lindsay LaVine in Entrepreneur Magazine. East Coast Foods, Inc. was ordered to pay nearly $200,000 in damages and attorney's fees after an investigator hired by a performing rights organization caught the store playing music without a license.

Brandi Music Works With Performance Rights Organizations On Your Behalf

performance rights organizations in North America - BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, Global Music Rights, SOCAN


German immigrant to the United States, Paul Heinecke, founded SESAC - Society of European Stage Authors and Composers - to represent European pubishers in America. SESAC music was regularly performed by Duke Ellington, Woodie Herman and Count Basie into the 1950s. It wasn't until 1970, however, that SESAC began signing composers in addition to publishers. From that time forward, more and more genres have been represented in the SESAC repertoire.

  • SESAC was established in 1930.
  • SESAC is the first and only performing rights organization to pay royalties on a monthly rather than quarterly basis.
  • SESAC claims an international reach and a vast repertory that includes virtually every genre of music.
  • SESAC currently licenses public performances of more than 400,000 songs on behalf of its 30,000 affiliated songwriters, composers and music publishers
  • Some of the artists with works published by SESAC include Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, RUSH, Charli XCX, Zac Brown, Mumford & Sons, Lady Antebellum.

SOCAN (Canada)

The first performance rights society in Canada was created by the United Kingdom's PRS (Performing Rights Society). It was founded as the Canadian Performing Rights Society (CPRS)in 1925. BMI (from the USA) set up its Canadian division in 1940 to license its repertoire in Canada. Involvement by ASCAP and the Canadian Government led CPRS to change to CAPAC to establish independence from both entities. In 1970 BMI Canada Ltd. became PROCAN.In 1990 CAPAC and PROCAN merged to become SOCAN.

  • As a performance rights organization, SOCAN collects licence fees and distributes them as royalties to its members (songwriters, composers and their music publishers).
  • 86 cents of every dollar SOCAN collects, goes to its more than 135,000 Canadian members and the millions of creators and publishers worldwide it represents in Canada.
  • SOCAN currently has more than 25 approved tariffs set by the Copyright Board of Canada.


BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) was founded in 1939 to represent songwriters in emerging genres, like jazz, blues and country. It was set up by the National Association of Broadcasters as a lower-cost alternative to ASCAP, which raised license costs (likely necessitated by the Great Depression). BMI attracted new composers by paying them the same amount as established composers, an innovation at the time. BMI has offices in Atlanta, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York and Puerto Rico.

  • BMI is the largest music rights organization in the USA, representing nearly 13 million musical works created and owned by more than 800,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.
  • Popular artists among the BMI repertoire are Lada GaGa, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Ed Sheran and Willie Nelson.


GMR (Global Music Rights) was formed in 2013 by entertainment executive Irving Azoff. Azoff had already represented many world-famous artists, including Christina Aguilera, The Eagles, Gwen Stefani, Bon Jovi and Van Halen. He has served as CEO of Ticketmaster and is on the board of Clearn Channel Communications. Many of the people Azoff gathered to form GMR had been with ASCAP. Unlike music societies, GMR does not allow composers, artists and publishers to "join". Rather, they facilitate their repertoire on an "invitation-only" basis.

  • GMR maintains a 4-to-1 employee-client ratio.
  • GMR represents an amazing catalog of works by contemporary artists, including Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen Bruno Mars, John Lennon, John Mayer, Pharrell Williams, Prince, Smokey Robinson.


ASCAP is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, established in 1914 to protect the rights of composers and to collect fees for public performances of their work. ASCAP was founded by a group that included composers and lyricists working in New York City. John Phillip Sousa and George M. Cohan were early members. With the advent of radio, ASCAP was able to collect performance fees for radio broadcasts of its member's compositions.

  • ASCAP lagged in signing rock-n-roll acts, but did well with folk artists and, in 1971, took over most of the Motown Records music publishing.
  • In 1996, ASCAP drew negative attention for threatening to pursue the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America for using "camp songs" without paying licensing. ASCAP dropped the idea.
  • ASCAP represents about 650,000 songwriters and publishers.
  • ASCAP supports the enactment of the Music Modernization Act of 2017, H.R. 4706 (introduced in the Senate in January, 2018). This bill promotes the idea of the creation of a blanket mechanical license and an administration agency, and will likely undergo many changes in the coming months.

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