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| 1 minute read

The Importance of Music Licensing for Bars and Restaurants

Did you know that any public performance of a song requires a license?  This aspect of the law surrounding music surprises many people and business owners. Certainly, you can use your Spotify or Apple Music subscription to listen to music in your own home or vehicle. But personal subscriptions do not grant the rights to use the music in public. 

However, did you also know that for a usually manageable fee, bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues can have access to a vast library of music to enhance their atmosphere? Music has the power to create the perfect ambiance for your establishment, attracting customers and keeping them coming back for more. However, it's important to understand the legal requirements and potential consequences associated with playing music in public spaces.

Licensing music is essential for various activities such as streaming music, hosting karaoke nights, featuring live bands, or hiring DJs. The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (“ASCAP”) is one of the performing rights organizations (“PROs”) that offers blanket licenses for businesses to legally play music in public settings. By obtaining an ASCAP public performance license, you gain the rights to play music from their extensive catalog.

Some business owners may question the need for a music license, especially if they believe the licensing costs are too high. However, failing to obtain a proper license can lead to legal troubles down the line. ASCAP and other PROs have taken legal action against establishments that play music without a license. The legal fees incurred from such a lawsuit can far exceed the cost of obtaining a license, making it a prudent investment for any business owner.

To ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues, business owners should obtain a license to play music that is performed publicly as part of their business. ASCAP offers a user-friendly process for obtaining licenses on its website ( By obtaining an ASCAP license, you not only protect your business from potential lawsuits but also support the artists and songwriters who create the music that enhances your customers' experience.

The average cost for bars and restaurants amounts to less than just $2 per day for the right to play an unlimited amount of music, ASCAP said in a release.


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