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Businesses Potentially Breaching Copyright Law by Streaming Personal Playlists

November 9, 2018


Businesses may be unknowingly breaching copyright law by streaming their personal music playlists to their workers and customers without a commercial licence.

In the largest global study of the background music business to date, Nielsen Music found that composers, artists, and musicians could be losing out on approximately $2.65 billion per year when their music is played in commercial locations without the appropriate licence. The study, commissioned by Soundtrack Your Brand (“Soundtrack”), looked at nearly 5000 small businesses in the U.K., U.S., Sweden, Spain, Italy, Germany and France and combined the findings with global small business data to reach its conclusions. Soundtrack is a Spotify-backed Business-to-Business (B2B) streaming company based in Stockholm. Soundtrack is the fastest growing music-streaming business in the world.

The study focused on small businesses, as larger companies tend to look at music as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility policy, and have strict requirements for the music supplier to provide fully licensed music.

Small businesses tend to have less awareness of copyright law and licensing requirements. According to the study, 60% of British small business owners thought they could legally use their own personal (B2C) music service to play background music. In the U.S., 71% of small business owners incorrectly believed they could use their personal B2C music in a store. Among small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, 83% are estimated to breach licensing regulations. Nielsen Music estimates that up to 21.3 million of 29.4 million commercial small businesses with physical premises are using personal services for background music, instead of a properly licensed B2B music service.

Soundtrack is working on various initiatives such as a new global licensing structure and rate cards for B2B music streaming to reduce the loss of revenue. The service provides ready-streamed Spotify playlists to businesses for a monthly subscription fee. The cost of this monthly fee is approximately $35, compared with approximately $10 per month for a consumer service.

Author: Abid Khalid


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