A Replacement for “Happy Birthday”

Ever notice how rarely you see someone sing “Happy Birthday” on TV or in a movie?  And why is it those restaurants with singing wait staff all have their own birthday song?

That’s because there are copyright and performance costs associated with using “Happy Birthday.” Contrary to what a lot of people think, this song is NOT in the public domain.  If you want to use the song, you have to pay performance rights, hence the use of lame substitutes like “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”

The Free Music Archive wants to help.  They ran a contest for birthday celebration songs that could all be used for free without fear of Warner-Chappell coming down on their heads for performance fees.  Here are the three top picks.

(Strangely, they don’t offer a simple embed code for blogs.  Not very public domain-y of them, innit?)



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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