Can I Play Music in my Cafe? (2024 Update)

Along with your coffee, the broader atmosphere of your cafe is what will attract customers to your business. In creating the ideal atmosphere for your cafe, you may want to play music. Music can be used in many formats, such as background music, live performances, karaoke and even music on your website. Whether it’s cafe music or music with a more upbeat tone, it’s important to also ensure you’re not infringing copyright. In this article, we’ll outline the legal requirements around playing music in your cafe.

Table of Contents

Get your licence

In order to have the legal right to play music in your establishment, you need permission from the creators of the music. Naturally, it would be a pain to contact every single musician for permission. Instead, various organisations handle the rights of musicians in Australia. These groups include:

  • Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA)
  • Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Limited (AMCOS) and
  • Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited (PPCA)

OneMusic Australia is a joint licencing initiative developed by the above organisations in 2019. As a result, getting permission now only requires applying for a licence through OneMusic. To apply for a music licence, steps are available through Service NSW

If you don’t play music without having the right licence, you will be infringing copyright. Further, legal action may be taken against you.

Why do I need a licence?

Obtaining the right licence will not only ease your conscience, but it will also ensure that:

  • The rights of songwriters, composers and producers have not been breached
  • You’ll be complying with the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)
  • The artist is rightfully paid for their work
  • You won’t need to contact the copyright holder for every piece of music you play

Type of licence

If you are looking at playing music in your cafe, OneMusic offers various licences bundled with different formats. This will ensure that you select the right licence for your business. For cafes, the most suitable licence is the dining licence. This type of licence also applies to restaurants, takeaway food shops and bistros.

Regardless of what licence you purchase, you’ll be able to play a majority of music that’s been commercially released anywhere in the world.

Background Recorded Music

If you want to just play background music or feature music on your website, OneMusic offers licences which will let you play almost any music. The licences also have tiers depending on what device you are playing music off. For example, a gold licence will cover you playing music from any digital devices, such as your smartphone or computer. A gold licence will also include music played from CDs, radios or televisions.

Live Music

If you want to provide live entertainment for your patrons, you will need to purchase the appropriate licence. The dining licence will also cover live music, however, you will need to pay additional fees. The fees are paid per live performance and can change depending on the dining capacity. The dining licence, however, will only cover live music where:

  • There is no entry fee
  • The gross cost of hiring the performer is less or equal to $4000

If you are looking to charge entry, a dining licence will not be enough. The most suitable licence will be an events licence. With an events licence, you can play live music but will be charged a percentage of the gross sum of admission fees. 

Spotify and Apple Music

A music licence will allow you to play music in your cafe, however, there are still some other restrictions you should know about. The purpose of Spotify and Apple Music is for personal use and non-commercial use. As a result, you cannot play music using Spotify or Apple Music in your cafe. Having a music licence does not change this. Playing music from Spotify or Apple Music in your cafe means you are breaking the terms and conditions of those apps. Luckily, there are more than 2 apps out there for streaming music. OneMusic has a list of approved streaming services that you can use when you have your licence.


If you think that obtaining a licence is unfeasible for your business, you do have a range of viable alternatives. These include:

  • Playing only royalty free music
  • Contacting the copyright holder directly


Yes you can play music in your cafe, however, you need to purchase the right licence first. A dining licence will allow you to play a large range of music with different devices. In addition, a dining licence will even let you have live music for an extra fee. Just make sure the performer is not too expensive and keep entry free. However, a music licence, no matter what kind, will not let you play Spotify or Apple Music. They have their own terms and conditions you have to abide by.

If you want further clarification about music licences, it is wise to consult with a business lawyer.

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