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Music Is A Commodity, Just Like Bananas!

Written by LeeAnn Taylor

October 29, 2021

Nothing is worse than walking around a store with no ambient sound except the voice in my head running down a litany of chores I have yet to do. Makes me want to run right out of the place screaming. Until I got into the business of providing music to retail businesses, I never considered, or was even aware of the red tape or ramifications of playing music in a retail space. It’s just music, what’s the big deal? Tell that to the artists, record companies, lawyers, and ASCAP.

Here’s the skinny.

Most business like to use music to set a certain ambient feeling for their shoppers. Depending on the geographic location, the demographic of the shoppers and the type of retail business, you must consider strategically the choices in genre selections. The right music and feel will increase the time your shopper stays in your store, which in turn effects their spend and your bottom line.

But in the U.S., the laws regarding music licensing, legality and hefty fines imposed are very clear for what you can and CANNOT play in-store for shoppers. Simply put, a license is required to play music in a business space. But why? Don’t we ride around in our cars listening to music? Aren’t we streaming music into our lives at home through our Alexa’s, TV’s and radios? What’s the difference?

Simply put, you are not profiting monetarily from the background sound in your home or car, so a license is not required. Streaming radios and services have authorization to play music, but not for OOH use. Background music in a business setting is a whole different can of worms. Copyright laws go on for days, but they are there to protect the music, artist, and record companies’ interest in their music. So, if you are caught playing music without written permission it’s an infringement which allows the owners of said music to collect monetary damages lost by the unauthorized use. Believe me, the bodies that license the work of songwriters, composers, and music publishers to the public like PRO, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year scouting businesses nationwide for violators. I recently read  Beware the Copyright Boogeyman: He Might Be Listening in Your Restaurant” LexisNexis, that illustrates how serious these licensing bodies are.

Don’t get caught on the wrong side of this issue. For literally pennies a day you can bring your sales floor alive with fully licensed major label music that creates an environment that reflects your brand identity. Audio is an important element of any aggregated shopping experience and the key to shopper retention and engagement.

Believe me your shoppers are listening…..and so is the Boogeyman.

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