Rules for playing CD's in our shop??

Does anyone know if we can play our cds (Sinatra, Bennet, and such) on a cd player without any licenses? I played music professionally for 20 years and my gut tells me there are probably some ASCAP/BMI fees for doing so. How about Pandora Radio? Also can I play them before we open while doing prep stuff without any fees? Thanks. Walter

I just got a phone call last week from the ASCAP and they informed me that if your building is under 2-3000 sq feet (I can’t remember the exact) that you do not have to pay any fees for radio. NOW live music is a totally different beast.

Thanks for that info. We are 1,225sqft so it sounds like I can play my cds or Pandora while we are open. Thanks. Walter

Also matters whether you are playing for the public i.e. in the dining room vs in the kitchen. No issue in the kitchen. In the kitchen the music is not for the public.

This link is helpful:

Looks to me like if you have a commercial pandora account you are fine.

What matters is if the customers can hear the music played in a waiting area (or really at any time at all), then they will argue it is being played for their entertainment.

If customers can hear the music when they pick up their take-out orders, ASCAP, BMI and or SESAC could argue that the “general public” receives the transmission as well as staff and that licensing obligations apply.

I had to get a Pandora Mood music player/license to cover the royalties in my carry-out store because of this. Note: Pandora One does not cover you for licensing.

If you want to not pay music royalties; have you restaurant be less than 3750 sqft, have 4 or fewer T.V.s (no more than 1 per room), and over-the-air radio on no more than 6 speakers (4 in one room). Digital “radio” (pandora, grooveshark, satellite radio, etc…) and other recorded formats (CDs & MP3 players) doesn’t count and requires music licenses. More details of the rules can be found on this .pdf file:

Want to avoid licensing headaches: only play over-the-air radio.

thanks for all the replies. We will keep the place music free and headache free :slight_smile: Walter

If you sell the cd’s then you are also exempt as long as the cd you’re playing is for sale. I’ve seen a few shops with a dozen or so cd’s for sale that played the cd. There is a store around here that used to sell a lot of “hippie type” of clothing, accessories etc. They played Grateful Dead cd’s non-stop as they had a stack of them for sale at the register. If you want to listen to Sinatra all day sell Sinatra cd’s and you can play them. Look up the exemption to make sure you’re applying it correctly.

I have been playing iTunes radio, and also the iTunes internet radio, commercials are few, but they are there.
The internet radio through iTunes is really neat if you tune to a station in another country. We play death metal from france before we open, then blues when we have customers.

I will have to check the ITunes radio but then we would need wifi for the shop right? Walter

Does anyone know what the rules are if we play music from our own radio paying for the license in a different country? As I understood, it is totally fine doing this in the kitchen but what about waiting area for the customers?

Shouldn’t need Wi-Fi, just an ethernet connection to a computer, you probably already have that for you CC readers, or are you using phone-lines for credit card transactions?

Or, if you do have wifi, an iPad or iPod touch can run iTunes radio, just need to use the earphone jack to your receiver

If I remember you are not using a POS system, am I correct? I have our radio running off our 2nd POS terminal, and a line out to the receiver, it runs in the background and causes no lags or anything. A cheap notebook computer is capable of handling streaming music too

GotRocks: Thanks for the detailed reply. We are not using a POS system. We are using a credit card swiper and a landline phone for the phone and credit card. There are 2 jacks for them. I don’t pay attention to this stuff. Judy is handling that area. Walter

Without an active internet connection, streaming music is not going to happen. I do not know what licensing fees cost if you plan to play recorded music,
I was going to suggest a digital jukebox, but again that’ll need internet access. If you do happen to go that route, I believe the money taken in is typically a 50/50 split between the provider and the business.

Maybe you could look into the cost of setting up a commercial account with Sirius/XM radio ? ? But I think you’d need to run a cable outside of the building so the antenna can have a clear line of sight to get the broadcast, I forget what that compass direction is, I want to say south (its been a while since I’ve installed any) Heck, things may have even changed since Sat-Radio became a reality.a

Or just go real low-tech and simply play a local radio station of your liking…

i played cd’s while doing business in Washoe County, without any problem. worried about it though ! i don’t think they are going after the small fry ( you and me) much, but i could be wrong. i’ve heard you would get a warning 1st before any prosecution. I used to live in Lakeridge apts on Lakeside dr, i know right where your place is, when i come to reno next year i will stop by. just finished doing the brick (thin) on our gas fireplace, grouting today. maybe flooring to start tomorrow,

I think I will let this stay on hold for now. We have enough stuff to keep us busy right now. Thanks! Walter

John: I am glad things are going well on your new shop. We are a few weeks out from opening. I look forward to meeting you. Walter

I thought I was a small fry until I got a call from BMI saying because I paid a gal once a month to play live music in my restaurant that I owed them $3000. After receiving an invoice from them they had me seating 300 people, which I can only seat 30 in my dining room. I proceeded to tell them that but they have a minimum of $450 a year. I have since stopped all live music. Then last month I get a call from another licensing agency wanting more money since I play a radio in my dining room, He also assumed that I had a large dining room but when he found out how small it was he told me I was exempt due to the size of my building.

We do this in our retail store. We have about 30 CD choices that we offer for sale. In our store we actually sell them. No idea how that would work in a restaurant but Starbucks does it. In our kitchen the employees play what they want to hear. Rules are that it must not be loud enough that a customer on the phone could hear it. When we had a slice operation with some seating (operated for 10 years) we had a musak contract that cost us $80 a month. They supplied the machine and the music for that and that also covered the licensing… (ended all debate about what kind of music could be played as well which is actually why I did it in the first place!) If I were going that route again, I would go with commercial pandora or something similar.