Music for Nightclubs & Cocktail Bars
Pablo, who holds a degree in Business Administration and Programming, established Legis Music in 2016. With a focus on the royalty-free music industry, he has contributed extensively to the field, authoring over 150 articles on various aspects of music licensing. His efforts have been instrumental in developing one of the most straightforward and liberal music licensing frameworks available today.
Did you know that more than 88% of businesses dedicated to catering play music to entertain and motivate their customers?
Well, imagine now that percentage taken to the case of nightclubs and cocktail bars.
Could you imagine a nightclub without music?
Music is the main element of this type of business.
It is true that, in order to open a drinking bar or a discotheque, you must know the procedures to be carried out and the licenses that you need to do the process in a correct and legal way, among which they stand out:
- The technical project of work/opening - The building license - The activity license - The certificate of urban compatibility - And the music license, among others
However, if everything is correct, but the musical aspect remains undefined and 100% legalized, the club will not be able to get going.
It’s as simple as that.
And since we know that everything related to the musical aspect and musical licenses is something both delicate and cumbersome, in this article we will answer all those questions that for sure have been going around in your head for a long time.
The first of these questions is a bit generic but necessary to answer for those who do not know anything about this subject.
What is a music license?
A music license is a legal and documented permission through which the use of a music track is granted for commercial use during a certain period of time.
Primarily, songs by well-known artists such as Beyoncé, Shakira, Lady Gaga or Rihanna, among others, are licensed.
There are several types of music licenses, but the one you’ll need for your bar is the Public Performance License.
Why do you need the Public Communication License for your nightclub?
This license is the one that allows the use of a music track for public broadcasting.
In other words, every time someone plays familiar music for an audience – and charges for it – they must obtain and pay for this license.
However, here it is necessary to differentiate between playing music for an audience privately – and not commercially – and playing it in a public – and commercial – way.
Private vs Commercial Use
To help you understand the difference between the two, I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Imagine that you have decided to invite some friends to dinner and you want to accompany the evening with some music.
In this specific case, the use that is being given to the music will be considered private use.
Mainly for two reasons:
- You’re playing it in a private environment like your home 2. You’re not charging to play it
On the other hand, if instead of the previous situation, you decide to organize a party in which you charge an entrance fee, and you plan to reproduce music, this will be considered commercial use of it, and you would need the previous license to reproduce it legally.
Mainly because you’re getting paid to do something that music is involved in.
It doesn’t matter if you’re playing music at a private party or a prestigious club.
In any case, if you charge admission it is considered a commercial activity and, in that case, the business must be registered and music licenses must be required.
The music licensing legislation is quite simple but also strict in this regard.
“The right to perform or reproduce a song in public on a commercial basis is one of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.”
So, if you were still in doubt about whether you need a music license for your club or not, the answer is quite clear:
Yes, you need a music license. It’s mandatory.
We want to remove all kinds of doubts about whether or not you really need a music license, in which cases you need it, and other questions you may have about it.
The answer is “Yes, you need a license to play background music in your nightclub”, without any hesitation.
And not because we say so, but because the law says so.
“Public uses of music are copyright infringement unless a license is granted.”
In order to play music in a nightclub, permission should be obtained from the composer or licensee of each song you play.
However, this is not done in this way.
Can you imagine how uncomfortable it would be to go around asking each composer and songwriter for licenses for each song?
To avoid this problem, there is a kind of “general” license that allows a pub to play music from a large number of artists without having to ask them for a license one by one.
If you want to know more about the general music license – also called ‘Blanket License Music‘, click on the link to our explanatory guide
Who issues these music licenses?
General licenses are issued by the Performance Rights Organizations -also known by PROs-, societies in charge of protecting the rights of authors and publishers of musical works.
The main purpose of these societies is to collect the money that businesses pay on a mandatory basis for the use of music and to pay the percentage due to the authors and publishers of the music tracks.
In each country there are one or several authors’ societies, the most important of which are:
PRO’s licenses for nightclubs
The license offered by the Performance Rights Organizations covers the commercial use of the music in discotheques and nightclubs.
It will allow you to use any musical or audiovisual work that is part of their repertoire, whether national or foreign.
How much does the PRO license fee cost?
The latest rates published by some of the PROs for nightclubs and bars usually vary depending on:
- The surface of the premises - On the days that the store is open each week - If it is disseminated by music or if it is also by audiovisual means - If it is a musical setting or if the music has a major role - If there are dances at the venue
However, you may need to make an appointment to have your particular case studied and to be offered a personalized price for your club.
It should be said that paying for PRO licenses is a bit expensive, especially considering that, nowadays, there are much cheaper, simpler, and equally legal alternatives to those offered by these organizations.
Alternatives to PROs Music Licenses
Due to the abusive costs and excessive restrictions that the author societies put on businesses, some years ago professional music providers for businesses emerged that offered practically the same guarantees, but with many more advantages.
These platforms provide either individual music tracks or streaming subscriptions so that you can enjoy the best music for your business without the complicated and legal problems of songwriters’ societies.
In addition, their inexpensive licenses include commercial use of the music, allowing you to use music from well-known artists in your cocktail bar legally and at a very low cost.
Do you mean Spotify, Apple Music, and similar?
If you were thinking of using traditional music services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, or Napster in your nightclub, I recommend that you erase that idea from your head.
Why? Because it’s illegal.
Remember the difference between private and commercial use of music?
Well, these platforms I just mentioned provide you with music for private use only. In other words, you can’t use it in any commercial situation.
And your club is a business that offers a commercial service.
If you play music through Spotify and similar in your music library or play any music without a license to use it commercially, you will face additional fees, heavy fines, and in some cases, criminal liability.
In that case, I recommend you to keep reading, because I’m going to introduce you to the best platform to get quality legal music for your cocktail bar.
Soundtrack Your Brand, the best music licensing provider for physical locations
As you know, choosing the songs you want to play in your club is a task that takes time.
If you plan to hire a DJ to manage this aspect, you may not have to worry so much about it.
However, if you don’t plan to have someone managing the music in your club and you want to be completely free of this aspect, you need a tool that can play quality music in an automated way.
Its name is Soundtrack Your Brand.
Soundtrack Your Brand is a platform that offers streaming music for businesses, including nightclubs and bars, whose main premise is to make it as easy as possible for you to manage the music in your business.
When you hire their services, you’ll have a commercial license to play any song within their repertoire, something that will give you the peace of mind you need when dealing with copyrights.
How much does the service cost?
We know that the cost of such a platform and the benefits that Soundtrack Your Brand offers to its customers could be quite high, even becoming similar to the cost of the PROs.
However, just as it has surprised you with its advantages, so it will with its price. Soundtrack Your Brand’s monthly subscription costs $34.99/month for each club you want to add music to.
As you can see, this is an affordable cost for a club that is going to generate quite a lot of money, and still much lower than what the author societies propose.
At Soundtrack they are so convinced that they are the best music provider for your club that they let you enjoy all their benefits free of charge for 30 days, without any obligation and without providing any bank details.
This way, you can discover and ensure that they are the best music service for your bar.
Other platforms to get the music from your bar
If you already know about us, you know that at Legis Music we always want to give you more.
And if you just met us, well… you will know that now.
That’s why we want to provide you with other options besides Soundtrack Your Brand so that you can choose where you want to sound in the best possible way.
Is it a good idea to hire a DJ?
The answer depends. Depending on the needs of your club, it may be advisable to hire a person who is playing live music.
However, for other types of nightclubs, the DJ may not fit in with what the pub wants to convey.
Besides, hiring a DJ means increasing your business expenses, since you will need to have him/her on staff or pay him/her as a professional working for someone else.
To which you must add the costs of the licenses provided by the PROs.
Is the acquisition of licenses the job of the DJ or the job of the club?
It is very normal to think that DJs or other artists should be in charge of obtaining the licenses to be able to reproduce copyrighted music, and not the club where they are going to practice their job.
However, the law says that everyone involved in the performance of music is legally responsible.
Therefore, both the DJ or artist and the club owner have legal responsibility.
But since the owner of the club is the one who gets the ultimate benefit from the reproduction of the music – the one who gets the profits – he will be the one who has to pay the fees and get the music license.
In short, if you own the venue it doesn’t matter who plays the music: if your club plays copyrighted music, you must pay for the license.
What if I play royalty-free music?
It is true that there is a temptation not to pay money for music.
It is often thought that music is something “free” and that you can use it in any way you want.
Obviously, the reality is different, and the law indicates the opposite.
That is why people look for cheaper (not to say free) alternatives to play music in a club.
However, when people go out to have fun they want to listen, sing and hum the songs they like, those they hear on the radio, on TV or at concerts.
That is, those of well-known artists.
In fact, according to a study conducted by SACEM in 2016, 65% of business customers want to listen to music they know, which they identify as being of high artistic quality.
Can you imagine going to a club where you don’t know a single song?
Therefore, if you want to avoid that uncomfortable feeling and you want to motivate your customers with music that they perceive to be of high artistic quality, we recommend you to forget the idea of playing in your club the so-called “elevator music“.
Leave yourself in the good hands of fantastic automated services like Soundtrack Your Brand, where the best music will be played for your customers economically and autonomously, or pay a DJ to do the same but in live.
Opening a successful cocktail bar from scratch is an expensive process, but will result in a very profitable business in the medium to long term.
But before starting it up, there are several things you need to have under control: the building license, the business license, the opening project, and the urban compatibility certificate, among others.
However, the soul of a successful nightclub is none other than the music. Without music, a nightclub is a business that fights against failure.
And it will not be enough to play any music or in any way.
You have already seen that the music that attracts your customers is music created by famous artists, a type of music that engages, motivates and that your customers will perceive as quality music.
To play it legally in your club, though, you need music licenses, a type of permission that allows you to use it publicly and commercially.
The PROs are in charge of providing you with these licenses.
They will study your case and give you the budget they consider appropriate for your particular case.
However, they are not economical at all.
Fortunately, today you have other alternatives that will allow you to play the best possible music for your clientele in a legal, simple and economical way.
The clearest example of this is Soundtrack Your Brand, which for $34.99 a month will give you access to the ultimate tool for managing your club’s music, giving you the peace of mind and the time you need to focus on what really matters: growing your business.
We recommend you take a look at how to play music in bars, cafes and pubs.
- What is a music license?
- Yes, you need a music license. It’s mandatory.
- PRO’s licenses for nightclubs
- Alternatives to PROs Music Licenses
- Soundtrack Your Brand, the best music licensing provider for physical locations
- Other platforms to get the music from your bar
- Is it a good idea to hire a DJ?