Canadian small businesses aren’t paying to play music at work

If you run a business, a restaurant, an office or domain over public space where where employees, customers, and clients gather, you are required by law to pay a fee to play music in that space.

Could be a radio. Could be a playlist off an iPod or Spotify. Could be satellite radio or some kind of pumped-in music service. The rationale is that you’re using music–the labour of other people–to enhance your business environment, so you owe the creators of that music a little bit of money.

A typical small business might have to fork out a couple of hundred bucks a year. It’s not much, but it revenues can mean a great deal to creators of musical works.

Unfortunately, not enough Canadian business know that they’re supposed to pay their way. A Leger study called Background Music in Canadian Small Business commissioned by Stingray (they’re big into this space) found that only 11% of Canadian businesses pay these fees.

But there doesn’t appear to be much malice at work. The survey also says that 82% of the people in the study had no idea that this was the law. They are unaware that there is legislation.

A couple of other things:

  • 71% of respondents say that music is essential to their businesses.
  • 63% had no idea that they’re not supposed to use a private streaming service to broadcast music publicly in their place of work.
  • 48% of business owners say it’s important to broadcast Canadian music…
  • …but only 18% say they’re willing to pay the tariffs to those musicians.

If you do play music at work and don’t have a SOCAN license, you’re liable to be fined.

But like I said, the costs to do this legally are cheap. And here’s why you need to pay up.

More at The Star.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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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