Can I play music at my premises?

A lot of small businesses play radio or some other music in their premises. This is quite prevalent especially in retail stores. Did you know however that you generally need permission to play recorded music in your shop or your business, even if you have already purchased the CD?

It’s a little complicated, but when you purchase a CD you don’t actually purchase the rights to the music – you purchase the right to play the music for private, or domestic purposes. If you want to play the music to the public, then you must get permission from the owners of the music to do so. The courts have even considered that playing music over the telephone while people are waiting on hold can be considered playing music to the public.

If you want to play music in your business or your shop, you will likely need permission, or a license, from the Australasian Performing Rights Association (ARPA) and from the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). These are non-profit organisations who work for their members, who are the owners of the music. They collect money from granting licenses and distribute the collected income to their members.

Of course, this is not an issue if the music is something that you’ve composed and performed yourself, or you’ve already obtained permission from the person (or people) who composed and performed the music.

This is also not an issue if copyright has expired over the music, but this can often be misleading. For example, while copyright has expired over Beethoven’s works, copyright protects the recording of the orchestra performing Beethoven’s works. If this is the case then you’ll still need licenses.

If you fail to obtain the relevant permissions then you could face the long arm of the law – either ARPA or PPCA might send you some letters seeking that you stop this behaviour or even worse, take out actions against you in a court of law.

Long story short – if you’re playing music in your business or at your store, then you should get the proper permission! If you’re still confused about what you need to do, drop us a call or send us an enquiry using the quick contact form.

Why choose Phang Legal for your business?

There are many lawyers and law firms to choose from, but it can be challenging to make the right choice. At Phang Legal we are dedicated to serving other business in the best way possible – after all, we know what it is to run business and to be a consumer of professional services ourselves. We appreciate the value of professional advisers who can provide the right service at the right price and we aim to be what we expect most. We deliver nothing less and we think you should expect nothing less.

With our offices conveniently located in Parramatta, the geographic centre of the Sydney metropolitan area, our lawyers assist businesses from across all suburbs of Sydney and beyond.

Kenneth Ti

Kenneth Ti
Associate Solicitor – Sydney

This website is maintained by Phang Legal, an incorporated legal practice in Parramatta. Kenneth Ti is an associate solicitor with Phang Legal.