Will You Be Fined For Playing Licensed Music at a Tradeshow Event?

 licensing for tradeshowsHave you ever attended an event where you heard music? More specifically, have you ever attended a tradeshow, and heard music at exhibitors’ booths or from a stage set-up to entertain attendees?

When music is presented to “the public” who are gathered in substantial numbers (more than 10 people, for instance), then a music license is often required and the fee paid for that license goes toward paying the songwriter, arranger, and/or performer.

Interestingly, there are some exceptions to needing a license for public performances of music. These include religious functions, academic lessons, and, in most cases, a small business playing music on their stereo system. This is called “Fair Use.”

A trade show or convention, where the public appears in large numbers to look at exhibitors’ products, may require you, as an exhibitor or the show’s organizer, to obtain a proper license to cover the use of music at the show if you are using songs that are not original compositions, but rather songs that have already been recorded and out for sale to the general public. If there’s a “financial benefit” to using the music, such as attracting people to the booth/the show, and you’re essentially using someone else’s music to help make money, you need to consider music licensing. You don’t want to be fined for copyright infringement; a sum that will likely outweigh the license, and cause you a major headache in the process.

Three major companies called Performance Rights Organizations or PRO’s that negotiate blanket music licenses are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. The venue where an event is held may or may not already have an agreement with one, two or all of these companies to cover the use of “piped-in,” recorded and/or live music at public events. Most venues do have a license. But if you are using music to promote a product at your tradeshow you will most likely have to pay a blanket license fee based on the use and number of people attending your trade show. Usually this is the compulsory statutory rate, which is governed by the current rate and determined by US Congress.

Your job, as an event organizer and/or exhibitor, is to research or have an expert in the industry check and see about music licensing to make sure you’re “covered” and not in danger of copyright infringement. As the old adage goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call CK Entertainment at 954.436.1230.

Posted by: CK Entertainment