Friday, March 7, 2014

Why You Need a Music License for Your Event

There’s one major rule that everyone tries to break at events: having a music license. It’s a big mistake, as music licenses are a necessity, and copyrighted music can’t be played publicly (at least not legally) without one.

Copyright laws require music users to get permission from songwriters and composers, who can then charge a fee before their music is played publicly. Music Author's Copyright Protection Bhd (MACP), represents composers, lyricists and producers; Public Performance Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PPM), represents recording companies and Recording Performers Malaysia Bhd (RPM), represents singers and recording musicians. 

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the law, its scope, and the implications of breaking it. Malaysia copyright law defines “public performance” as any music played outside a group of family and friends. By that definition, all company holiday parties, conferences, grand openings, and other gatherings must obtain a license. Nonprofits aren’t exempt, either. If an entertainer is paid, a music license is necessary. Many companies assume that their music license includes events. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

What happens if you don’t have a license? By not obtaining one, organizations can be penalized for copyright infringement, risking very large fines.

Another common misconception is that the event management company, sound system vendor, contracted band or DJ is responsible for obtaining the license. Many vendors, bands and DJs have a line in their contracts stating it is the responsibility of the event's host organization. In addition, the entertainers couldn’t get the license even if they wanted to; the license must be held in the organization’s name. Venue contracts also typically pass off the responsibility of getting a music license to the client.

Once you come to an understanding that you do, in fact, need to get a license, the good news is they are fairly easy to obtain. Each organization’s website offers the ability to download the appropriate license. Fees are based on the number of people at the event, the value of the sound system, type of event (outdoor performance eg Family days or concerts; or corporate indoor events eg gala dinners or product launches) or even venue location. 

Forewarned is forearmed: get the licenses you need, avoid future headaches, and stand back as attendees dance the night away.

About the Author

Best Events

Author & Editor

Based in Malaysia, Best Events specializes in Conferences, Seminars, Murder Mystery Dinners, Gala Dinners and Team Building events.


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