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A public performance license is an agreement between a music user and the owner of a copyrighted composition (song), that grants permission to play the song in public, online, or on radio. This permission is also called public performance rights, performance rights, and performing rights.
How Do I Get a Public Performance License?
In most cases, public performance rights should be handled by the institutions, businesses, venues, and radio stations that present the music. Small indie artists, educators, and DJs often don't need to secure public performance rights for private events and most rights organizations do not license to individuals. Also, most web and terrestrial radio stations handle their own public performance licensing, so playing live public radio at your venue is usually fine. If you are unsure about your specific scenario, you should ask the venue or contact a performing rights organization such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC for details.
Business owners in the United States should contact the three rights agencies that handle all public performance licensing in the United States, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, to inquire about obtaining public performance licenses. Expect to report your playlists to these agencies, and share a small percentage of your revenues for royalties, which the agencies then distribute to the copyright holders.
To obtain public performance licenses in the United States, please contact the following performing rights agencies:
Outside of the United States, please contact your local performing rights society. To obtain licensing for any type of web radio that will be broadcast in the United States, even if the originating server is outside of the United States please contact the following agency: