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The Ins and Outs of Music Licensing for Business

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The Ins and Outs of Music Licensing for Business - What You Need to Know


The right background music is a proven technique to help a business thrive. But many business owners don’t realize that playing their personal Spotify or Pandora playlists for their customers is in direct violation of well-established copyright laws. Obtaining the right music licenses is critical to avoid hefty fines from rights holders. So, what should business owners know to avoid getting in trouble with copyright laws? This guide should help you get started.

Copyright Law

Music is protected by copyright law. The law is in place to protect the performing artist, producer, and songwriter/creator and signifies that the music cannot be reproduced. Any time a song plays publicly, the creator earns royalties. If appropriate permission has not been granted (through a license to play said music), the creator can recover damages for the song’s illegal reproduction. Essentially, the music has been stolen. This means that playing your personal Spotify or Pandora accounts in a place of business is illegal.

The artist will collect royalties or recover monetary damages with the help of a PRO (Performance Rights Organization). The PRO advocates for musical creators by collecting and distributing license fees from businesses that play licensed music. There are several established PRO entities, the most widely known include BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc), ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), and SESAC.

The Importance of Playing Music Legally

Why go through the effort to obtain a license to play music legally? To ensure that everyone involved in the creation of the music is compensated appropriately.   A PRO confirms that this is the case. If your business does not secure a license, you could be looking at severe financial consequences or worse. Even the playback of one song can result in a fine of several thousand dollars. Additionally, the COVID-19 stimulus bill passed in December 2020 contains further provisions that made the streaming of copyrighted work without proper licensing a felony.

How to Obtain a License

There are different ways to obtain a license to play music within your business legally. The first is to go directly to the PRO (Performance Rights Organization) to secure a license. Unfortunately, this method can be quite expensive and time-consuming. This also leaves you with a limited music selection as your business can only play music within the PRO catalog.

An alternative is to utilize a streaming music service that takes care of the licensing for you.  Many businesses find this option more affordable and convenient than navigating the complex process on their own.

Exceptions to the Rules

All establishments are required to obtain legal permission to play music. You may feel your business is an exception to the rule as you do not play music as a “public performance.” This term’s legal definition is the broadcast of music in a space open to the public to any given number of people outside of one’s social circle.

There are, however, real exceptions to the copyright law enabling individual businesses to play music legally without a license. The criteria for these situations are the following: a restaurant or bar smaller than 3,750 square feet and retail stores under 2,000 square feet can play music only if played quietly, and patrons are not charged a fee to listen.

Legally Streaming Music in Business Establishments

Unless your business falls under the exception above, you must procure legal permission to play music in your place of business. A streaming music service is often the best choice for a busy business owner looking to keep license costs low. After you have determined the need for a music service, there are several features you should look for:

  • Digital vs. analog music quality
  • A large music selection. A good streaming music service should have licenses with multiple PROs to give you the broadest selection.
  • Music that matches your brand. Music can contribute significantly to your brand loyalty, yet it must be cohesive with your identity. Look for a vendor that can help you customize a playlist or station to your brand.
  • The ability to mix your own playlists with an easy-to-use app
  • Local or remote (HQ) control of music
  • Enterprise features for controlling, monitoring & reporting
  • The ability to scale from 1 to 1,000 locations at the same time
  • The ability to insert audio messages into the music stream
  • Great customer support from the vendor. You can visit sites like Trustpilot.com to see what other customers are saying about the vendor.

Protect Yourself and Stream Music Legally

Whichever approach you elect to obtain a license for your business, ensure that you are protected. Music copyright infringement lawsuits are not uncommon and can significantly impact your bottom line. By legally playing music in your storefront, your employees, customers, and the artists behind the music will simultaneously thank you. If you work with the right vendor, they can help you customize the music to your brand, which will help your top line.



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Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover

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Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover


“It’s hard to hire; it’s hard to train; it’s hard to keep people from burning out. To make matters worse, these challenges have intensified so swiftly that leaders have hardly had time to digest them, let alone mount a defense.”

That’s the main takeaway from “The State of Marketing Operations: 2022,” a new report from junior marketing ops training platform Highway Education and ABM leader Demandbase. The findings were based primarily on a survey of 800 marketing operations professionals from organizations of all sizes, more than half from mid-sized companies.

The demand for talent. The vastly accelerated shift to digital marketing — not to mention sales and service — has led inflated demand for MOps talent, a demand the market can’t keep up with. Two results: burnout as too much is demanded of MOps professionals; and turnover, as it’s easy to find alternative opportunities. The outcome for companies is the growing burden of hiring and training replacements.

Use of marketing software has grown two and a half times in less than ten years, according to the report, and the number of marketing operations professionals, across organizations of all sizes, has increased by two-thirds. Use of marketing automation alone has grown 228% since 2016, and there has been a 66% growth in the size of MOps teams just since 2020.

Perhaps most remarkable, 93% of MOps professionals learned on the job.


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Why we care. Providing beginner MOps training services, Highway Education clearly has an interest in this data. At the same time, there can be little doubt that the demand for MOps talent is real and growing. If there’s a surprising figure here, it’s that use of marketing software has grown only two and a half times in the last decade.

AWS MOps leader Darrell Alfonso, quoted in the report, says: “There’s a disconnect between marketing strategy and the actual execution — what it takes to actually operationalize and bring a strategy to life. Leadership, especially the ‘old guard,’ will be more familiar with traditional methods like field marketing and commercials. But now, during the pandemic and post, there’s an entire digital world that needs to be
managed by people who know what they’re doing.”

Read next: More on marketing ops from Darrell Alfonso


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Product Market Fit with Scott Cunningham [VIDEO]

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Product Market Fit with Scott Cunningham [VIDEO]


Scott Cunningham, CEO of Social Lite and Co-Founder of Merchant Mastery, has worked with thousands of ecommerce stores. The one thing he hears ALL. The. Time? 

“Facebook doesn’t work for my business.”

If you’ve said that about your ecommerce store, listen in as Scott shares what’s missing and how you can overcome that hurdle and start selling.

In this video:

  • Start Here to Sell More: 00:22-00:30 
  • What If I’m Selling a Brand New Product? 00:51-1:02
  • The Formula for Winning in Ecommerce: 1:21-1:34

Learn more about ecommerce:

The Future of Ecommer Marketing Is Now ➡️ https://www.digitalmarketer.com/blog/future-of-ecommerce-marketing/

Use This Framework to Build Ads That Move Product ➡️ https://www.digitalmarketer.com/blog/offer-harmonics-scott-cunningham/

NEW for 2022! Become an Ecommerce Marketing Master ➡️ https://www.digitalmarketer.com/certifications/ecommerce-marketing-mastery/




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Antitrust bill could force Google, Facebook and Amazon to shutter parts of their ad businesses

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Antitrust bill could force Google, Facebook and Amazon to shutter parts of their ad businesses


A new Senate antitrust bill could make Google, Facebook and Amazon divest portions of their ad businesses. 

The Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act (S4285) would prevent large ad companies from participating on different sides of the ad transaction chain. It would ban them from operating more than one of these functions: supply-side brokers selling publisher ad space, demand-side brokers selling ads, or ad exchanges connecting buyers and sellers.

Image from CDTA factsheet

The bill, introduced yesterday by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), bans companies earning more than $20 billion in annual digital advertising revenue from participating in the online ad ecosystem in a way that creates conflicting interests. 

It also imposes consumer protection rules similar to ones governing financial trading. Under the law, businesses with more than $5 billion in digital ad transactions annually would have to: 

  • Act in the best interest of customers by getting the best bids for ads.
  • Provide transparency customers can verify that.
  • Create firewalls between their buying and selling operations if they are allowed to operate both.
  • Treat all customers the same concerning performance and information related to transactions, exchange processes, and functionality.

“Digital advertising is dominated by Google and Facebook,” Sen. Lee said in a statement. “Google, in particular, is the leading or dominant player in every part of the ad tech stack: buy-side, sell-side, and the exchange that connects them. For example, Google Ad Manager is used by 90% of large publishers, and in the third quarter of 2018 it served 75% of all online display ad impressions. Google uses its pervasive market power across the digital advertising ecosystem, and exploits numerous conflicts of interest, to extract monopoly rents and stack the deck in its favor. These monopoly rents function as a tax — upwards of 40% — on every ad supported website and every business that advertises online, collectively a huge segment of the modern economy.”


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The new law is a response to the anti-competitive practices Google has been accused of. These include Project Bernanke, the focus of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of more than a dozen states. The suit claims Google ensured ads booked via its AdX system would win ad space auctions. 

“The conflicts of interest are so glaring that one Google employee described Google’s ad business as being like ‘if Goldman or Citibank owned the NYSE,’” Sen. Lee said.

Read next: Is there any incentive to crack down on programmatic ad fraud?


2022 MarTech replacement survey


About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.



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