Do Dance Studios Need Music Licensing?

Do dance studios need music licensing? If you’re looking to play popular new music, yes. In this post, we’ll do a deep dive into dance studios, and music licensing, and also give you some budget-saving alternatives.

Music licensing for dance studios

You’ve experienced it before: you go into a small business, enjoy its music, and then hear an ad from Spotify or Pandora. Perhaps you think, “Wow, they should really pay for the ad-free plan.” However, if they want to avoid heavy fines, they should actually do much more.  

Music is protected as intellectual property under intellectual property law. Most music is protected by entities called performing rights organizations (PROs). PROs negotiate contracts between music producers and businesses who want to use their songs in their business in public settings and public performances (like dance practice and dance performances). PROs manage fees for licenses to music recordings and then distribute them to the original artists or composers to pay them for the use of their songs. 

In order to have legal access to play music in your studio, you can license music from an individual artist or a PRO. For example, go to the ASCAP website or BMI website. You provide the details of your business, what kind of music you play, and how many students you have, and they will give you a quote for how much it will be to license their entire collection of music for a period of time (usually one year). Before getting a license from one of these PROs, ensure they have the music you want access to. Not all PROs have all music; in some cases, you may need to get a license from multiple PROs to access all the music you’re interested in licensing. 

How much does music licensing cost?

Music licensing costs vary depending on the use and how many students will hear the music. To get a quote, it’s best to go to the PRO directly and start the licensing process to get an exact quote for your business. You can also chat with their customer support to get more information and have your questions answered. 

Alternatives to working with PROs

If you don’t want to work directly with a PRO, there are other companies that work with PROs on your behalf and allow you to pay them a yearly fee for the right to license their music. They generally also offer other resources, such as pre-mixed playlists based on genre and mood. Here are some companies that allow you to sub-license music:

What music can I play without a license?

If you don’t have the budget to pay to licensed music, you can look for royalty-free music. Keep in mind that royalty-free does not mean “free.” Royalty-free means you only have to pay for it once. Purchasing the right to royalty-free music is like buying it, whereas licensing music is like leasing it for a period of time. Remember that the savings in purchasing royalty-free music will cost you your time because you’ll need to sift through royalty-free music options to find the music that works best for your practice or performance. 

That said, here are some of the best options for finding royalty-free music dance studios:

  • Proud Music Library: This resource allows you to search by license type, genre, and other keywords to help find the right songs for your studio.
  • Adobe Stock Music: Adobe is one of the leading digital art software developers, and they support small and indie artists with their stock and royalty-free music options.
  • Snapmuse: This subscription service allows content creators, including theater artists and dancers, to search by genre, mood, and more.

What Happens if I Don’t Get a License?

There are publishers, labels, and third parties who actively seek out copyright violators. They are savvy and target companies most likely to violate intellectual property laws, like dance new studios.

Unfortunately, if you are in violation, you can receive heavy fines, damage to your reputation, or legal action. Make sure you exhaust all your options before making any decisions.

The Bottom Line

If you are opening a dance studio, it’s best to pay for music licensing. Incorporate this as part of the costs necessary to run your business. One way to allocate this fee is to take the cost for the year, divide it by the number of students you have, and charge a small portion to each student as an administrative fee. If you factor in this expense early on, you’ll be able to manage costs more effectively and not get in trouble with the law.

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