Music is one more thing your craft brewing business should be tuned into if you’re operating a consumer-facing venue like a bar or eatery. First off, we highly suggest you jump over to the National Restaurant Association’s page to read its 11 questions about music licensing. Then, we highly suggest you invest in a music license — or as the case may be — music licenses.
The Brewers Association (BA) is definitely trying to help streamline the process for brewers — especially the confusion surrounding multiple licenses. Representing and educating indie craft brewers, the BA has put a serious focus on music licensing lately. On August 9, the BA announced support for the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act (HR 3350), which was introduced by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and cosponsored by Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Steve Chabot (R-OH). The act would establish a searchable, digital database of historical and current copyright ownership and licensing info. From the BA’s website:
Breweries who play music will still be required to purchase the appropriate licenses from performing rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP, BMI, GMR, and SESAC. Currently, brewery operators are in the dark as to which copyright ownership information is connected with which PRO, so must pay all PROs whether or not they play music whose rights are managed by a specific PRO. As a result, many breweries may choose to stop playing music altogether, or in some cases cancel live performances to protect themselves from potential infringement. The database that would result from the Transparency in Music Licensing and Ownership Act will allow business owners to know which music is covered depending on which licenses they purchase.
With more transparency, breweries would be able to choose the licenses that best fit their music needs — instead of buying a bunch of them they don’t like or need.
The BA announced another big push in music licensing this week. Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), a global leader in rights management, announced a new partnership with the BA, plus a music licensing discount program to benefit all voting members. With the discount program, BA members can swing a decent 10 percent off their BMI music licensing fees. Not a bad start at all. When combined with the 10 percent timely payment discount already included in the Eating & Drinking establishment (EDE) license, BA members can save up to 20 percent, making an approachable fee to comply with copyright laws. From the press release:
“Music enhances the overall customer experience, so access to music is essential for all businesses. However, for small businesses, this can be expensive,” said Paul Gatza, Director, Brewers Association. “We are thrilled to partner with BMI and provide our members with discounted music licensing fees that will enable them to enrich their breweries and heighten the experiences of their patrons.”
“Like small and independent craft breweries across the country, most of BMI’s affiliated songwriters can be viewed as small business owners who depend on the royalty payments they receive from BMI to make a living,” said Mike Steinberg, BMI’s Executive Vice President, Creative & Licensing. “We’re proud to partner with the Brewers Association in the rollout of this discount program.”
Who is BMI?
BMI acts as a bridge between songwriters and the businesses and organizations that want to play their music publicly. The performing rights organization operates on a non-profit-making basis and licenses approximately 12 million musical works from its more than 750,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. Dating back to 2000, BMI has partnered with over 63 trade associations in the hospitality industry in educating businesses about music licensing.