Music is Valuable to Your Business – and More Affordable than You Think

socan_tag_h_eng_4cHave you ever been in a grocery store and heard background music playing overhead? You may not have thought about it, but being in a big-box store, or superstore, without music can be an unsettling experience after so many years of background music being so common. If you can’t remember a grocery store experience, think of the last time you went to a dance studio or fitness class without music? I would guess that it’s never happened.

Music can be an important part of the retail shopping experience. The mood set by music can impact customers’ happiness and willing to spend money. In the case of a dance studio, music is an essential component of the business.

With all the value t music adds to business, it is surprising how many new business owners don’t know they have to pay for the music they play. Usually at this moment, adding “a music licence” to an entrepreneur’s list of start-up requirements causes a little bit of panic, but the good news is that complying with the rules is more affordable than you think.

The organization responsible for licensing music is the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). When a business owner purchases a CD, or downloads a song from iTunes, they have purchased a licence to only listen to the music personally. The music licence converts the personal licence to a licence that can now be used for a business. A business owner must post their SOCAN licence or make the licence available for inspection.

SOCAN’s website,, provides an online calculator to determine the annual fee for the music licence. Here are some sample calculations:

  • An 850 square-foot retail business playing background music from an MP3 player on a computer pays $97.41 annually.
  • A busy one-room dance school, serving 180 participants per week every week of the year, pays $385.20 (to avoid sticker shock, remember how important music is to a dance school).

The consultants at the Halton Region Small Business Centre can help list the various licences and registrations that impact your specific type of business. If you were surprised to hear about music licences, contact us for a free one-on-one consultation to discuss your specific business idea or existing business in detail.



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