Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) sues more than two hundred businesses a year for not having the appropriate music licenses to play songs within their establishment.

New Jersey is just one of the states that is no stranger to infringing on this policy. According to an article in USA Today, every year BMI sues about a half-dozen bars and restaurants in New Jersey alleging copyright violations. Establishments are subject to a lawsuit if they play just one song of the 8.6 billion songs in the BMI library…that doesn’t leave much for them to play.

“Businesses that don’t want to risk getting sued will pay for blanket licenses from BMI and the other two performing rights organizations — American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC). The three organizations license virtually every song heard on television and radio,” according to USA Today.

Most businesses that do not have licenses with any of the three Performing Rights Organizations, say it’s because they don’t want to pay the fees to do so. While paying for such licenses can cost money, the fees will never account to more than what the business would have to pay if they were to be sued for copyright infringement.

“While some business owners may avoid paying licensing fees for a while, it can be much more expensive than the cost of a music license in the long run,” the National Restaurant Association, a trade organization, warns its members.

One New Jersey restaurant went to court over copyright infringement and was told they’d have to pay $24,000, coming out to $4,000 for each of the four songs the restaurant played from the BMI library.

The Green Knoll Grill is another neighboring restaurant that is going to trial for playing just three songs they did not have licenses for.  Many of these businesses are learning that going without these licenses is not worth it.

We help restaurants and other businesses avoid these potential fines by offering custom background services to clients who are in need of such licensing. When a client requests songs they want to play in their business, they partner with Mood to hopefully get the appropriate licenses to use those tracks. Our Licensing team is responsible for obtaining the agreements for each track. Once a track is cleared in the system and the client can legally use it, the Music Designers then gather the approved tracks and create a custom playlist for the client. This ultimately aids in the client’s branding as well. The music that a client chooses is really what they think represents their brand the best. Without these background tracks, many businesses would be quite boring to visit.

Many businesses may start out thinking, “They’ll never know, I’ll never get caught,” however; with knowing how costly fines could be, every establishment would be better off making agreements with all three Performing Rights Organizations or music service companies such as Mood (who handle the music licensing for them) to avoid any infringements. In addition, restaurants would also have a music library that’s thousands of songs larger, win-win for everyone.

– Submitted by Lisa Ghera, Licensing