Can i play MP3s in my business?  Can i play MP3s in my business?

Can i play MP3s in my business?

Phillipp Schwarz Phillipp Schwarz

Yes, theoretically you can.

Two licenses are needed

a) first of all, if you play any background music in your business (whatever the mean: streaming, CDs, MP3s, etc.), your first need to get a music license for that. Your local Performing Rights Organization (PRO) such as GEMA in Germany, SOCAN in Canada, PRS-PPL in the UK, SACEM in France, etc. will deliver you such license.

b) then, if you play any music to an audience, you would need this music to include a “Public Performance License”. Which license you will need to buy for each of the MP3 files (i.e. each song)  you play in your business!

Sounds surprising? It might be, because 95% of business owners do this wrong, and expose themselves to heavy fines.


What is the legal background here?

Imagine that you bought MP3s (with your business account of course, not your private account) on any consumer platforms like Amazon, iTunes, Telekom, Fnac, Virgin, etc. And you want to play these files as background music in your business. In fact, you cannot. This is illegal! You would simply violate copyright laws. Because playing music in your business to an audience is legally considered a public performance, you need to play MP3 files licensed for Public Performance. And MP3 files bought on mainstream music platforms are not licensed for this.

MP3 music files you can buy on (B2C) platforms like Amazon, iTunes or Telekom, are only licensed for private use, e.g. at home or in your car, and private use only! To be broadcasted to a larger audience like customers in a store or a restaurant, MP3 files do need to be licensed for Public Performance. And consequently sold at a higher price, because a larger copyright amount will be payed back to the authors. The larger the audience listening to their music work, the higher the copyrights the artists get. This is logical and fair for the artists.

So if you want to buy MP3 files and build playlists yourself for your business, you need to buy these files from a B2B music platform, that sells “MP3 files including Public Performance license”. These are the only MP3 files you are legally allowed to play in your business. Or you have to buy separately for each MP3 files – that you are playing – the Public Performance License (PPL) for it. Your local performing rights organizations (PROs) such as SESAC in the US, GEMA in Germany, SOCAN in Canada, PRS-PPL in the UK, SACEM in France, etc. will sell you such licenses.


How to simplify this process?

To buy MP3 files and build playlists manually is not a common practise among business owners. Owners prefer saving the effort and streaming directly music from B2B cloud platforms, such as Soundsuit, that provides tailored playlists for their business needs (business type, target audience, mood level, etc.). And the music is also already fully licensed for business use. Then owners get the right music for their customers, when investing no manual work nor time, and avoiding any back payments or fines.

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