When running a cafe, it is ideal to have background music to create an inviting and pleasing atmosphere for your customers. Additionally, music can create an engaging identity to help build and establish your brand. Music can be incorporated in your business through many formats, such as background music, live performances, karaoke nights and even music on your website.

In order to have the right to be able to play music in any format in your establishment, you must first purchase a license that is right for your business through the Australasian Performing Right Association, or APRA for short.

To protect your patrons from awkward silences and to protect yourself from any possible infringements by playing music, it is always advisable to talk to a business lawyer.

Why do I need a license?

When purchasing a license through APRA, it ensures that:

  • The rights of the songwriters, composers and producers rights have not been breached;
  • You fulfil your obligations outlined by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth);
  • Ensures that the artists are rightfully paid for their work;
  • Provides a legal access to play any commercially released music without having to contact the copyright owner for every piece of music; and
  • Protects your business from copyright infringements.

What type of license do I need?

If you are looking at playing music in your cafe, APRA offers various licenses bundled with differing formats, allowing you to select the right license for your business. Regardless on what license you purchase, you will be able to play any music that has been commercially released anywhere in the world.

Background Recorded Music

If you are looking to just play background music or feature music on your website, APRA offer licences to have the right to play any music without incurring liability. This license will cover you playing music from any digital devices, such as your smartphone or computer, and also from any CDs, radios or televisions that are playing music in your establishment.

Live Music

If you are looking at providing live entertainment for your patrons, for example live performances, DJs or hosting karaoke events, you will need to purchase a licence that will allow you to do so. APRA offers licences that allows you to play either live music exclusively or bundled with the right to play background music as well. It’s worth noting that these licences only provide up to 12 nights per year, with an excess charge for every night over this limit.

Adding to this, if you charge patrons $20 or more for the admission of a live event, 2.2% of the total gross amount paid by patrons must be deducted and paid to APRA.

Alternatives to APRA

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

  • Royalty free music;
  • Contacting the music supplier directly; or
  • Using a background music supplier that provides you with the necessary licenses.

If you are seeking further clarification about music licences or legal advice about your business, it is advised to consult with a business lawyer.

Unsure what’s next? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising employment contracts, as well as other legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers.

Logan Tennyson

Logan is a Paralegal working in our content team, which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. With a passion for commercial and media law, his research explores how the law is adapting to emerging technologies and how this affects consumers and businesses alike.