Whenever you perform in public a song you did not write, or play recorded music
in public, such as at a club, restaurant, concert, on the radio, or streaming on
the Internet, you may need to obtain Public Performance Rights. These pay a royalty
to the composer of a song for the right to perform or play their song in public.
Common uses of Public Performance Rights include background music at retail stores
and restaurants, playlists for on-air and web radio stations, concerts, shows, and
All Public Performance Rights in the United States are handled by three Public Performance
Rights agencies: ASCAP.com, BMI.com, or SESAC.com.
How much you pay for Public Performance Rights is based on a number of variables,
and is determined by these agencies.
In many cases these rights are covered by the venue, so small indie artists and
DJs often don't need to secure these for private events. If you are not sure,
you should ask your venue or contact ASCAP.com,
BMI.com, or SESAC.com for details.
Radio station operators, restaurateurs, retailers, and web site administrators should
contact these agencies for further details as well. Expect to report your playlists
to these agencies, and share a percentage of your revenues as royalties, which they
then distribute to the composers.