What Music Can Be Safely Played in Your Restaurant or Small Business? — Mubert Blog What Music Can Be Safely Played in Your Restaurant or Small Business? — Mubert Blog

What Music Can Be Safely Played in Your Restaurant or Small Business?

If you own a small business, such as a restaurant, café, bar or convenience store etc.—playing background music can definitely set the mood for your customers. However, most people don’t know that there are licensing laws that prohibit them from playing music in their commercial business.


And even if you’ve bought the record or paid for the streaming service, it’s only intended for personal use and nothing more. Even clubs that hire DJs need a license and pay royalties to the people who own the tracks. So, if you’re planning to play music for your customers at your local business—it is best to do it legally by purchasing royalty-free music for commercial use.

Playing music in your place of business requires having a public performance license or PPL from one of the three performing rights organizations. Obtaining a PPL is not going to be cheap since you will need to pay the multiple songwriters or organizations that own the rights to the songs. Instead, you can always purchase or look for free music for commercial use if you are on a tight budget.

Yes, music at a restaurant is essential for setting the mood and ambience, and it is a factor in attracting more people. Fortunately, you can always buy royalty-free music. It might not include the Top 40 Hits or your choice of songs, but at least it’s a legal way to spice up your business. It’s the smart move, especially if you want to avoid paying fines or worse — closing down your business.

Can I Play iTunes, Pandora, Tidal, Apple Music or Spotify?

Royalty-Free Music for Small Business

Just because you paid for a subscription from one of these music providers, it doesn’t mean you can play it for a bunch of people in your place of business. With a subscription, you are only paying for personal non-commercial use. The same goes for music you purchased digitally or physically from a record store. If you want to play these songs, you still need to obtain a PPL from the performing rights organizations.

With that being said, using royalty-free music for commercial use is the best and most inexpensive way to play music in your café, restaurant or shop. If you hear music playing at a place of business — there is a high chance that the owner is playing music legally.

Royalty-Free Music for commercial use

If you decide to get a jukebox, the laws may be slightly different, but you will still need to pay the necessary dues and negotiate a deal with the performing rights organizations to acquire a PPL. In addition, you also need to obtain a license from the Jukebox License Office — yes, there is such a thing! Some jukebox vendors include this license, but it’s best to double-check and make sure just to be safe.

However, there are some exemptions from these copyright laws. You are allowed to play music transmitted via satellite radio, radio, TV and cable if you own a small business. The area should be under 3,750 square feet to be exempt, and that includes all interior and exterior spaces, such as parking areas and outdoor dining areas. Another thing you should remember is that you cannot charge your customers and patrons to listen to the music.

Potential Risks

There are many potential risks for playing unlicensed music in your place of business. If you don’t obtain the necessary licenses from the right organizations, you may need to pay fines ranging from $750 to $30,000 or more — depending on which songs you play and how many songs you play without a PPL. It’s a significant amount of money that you can avoid paying if you choose to buy royalty-free music for your business.

What Music Can I Safely Play in My Restaurant or Small Business?

 Music for Restaurant or Small Business

Playing royalty-free music for commercial use is still the most inexpensive and least risky way to play music for your customers in your place of business. Let’s face it, paying royalties to obtain a PPL for playing individual tracks will cost a lot of money.

Unless you own a club where people expect to hear the top 40 tracks, you probably shouldn’t spend all your funds on licensing alone. Instead, you can purchase royalty-free jazz, classical or meditation music that you can legally play in a café or restaurant—they are chill music pieces that anyone can appreciate without paying thousands of dollars!

Alternatively, If you have friends who produce music or if you produce music yourself, you can also play these tracks in your place of business — considering you asked permission and purchased the samples for your tracks legally.

The internet is filled with tons of inexpensive or free music sources, and here are a couple of our staff picks you can choose from:

  • Mubert Render – This service is a source of music you can play in your place of business. Every track or playlist you purchase is guaranteed to be royalty-free, and suitable for commercial use. You can even use the tracks for types of content like YouTube videos, apps and more.
  • Free Stock Music – This website is filled with free-to-use stock music you can use for multimedia projects and commercial purposes. The tracks are completely free to use. However, the selection is not that extensive and the audio quality is a little bit lacking — but it’s still good considering all the tracks are free for commercial use.


Using royalty-free music for commercial use is your best choice, especially if you’re just setting up shop. Obtaining the necessary licenses will cost a lot of money and it’s never ideal to spend so much when you’re yet to see a return on your investment. Stock music websites might not include today’s top hits, but you may be pleasantly surprised by the audio quality and how good these tracks are considering the low prices. Plus, it’s an excellent way to support local artists trying to make a living.

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