How to Get a Public Performance License


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

Do you love playing and singing covers of your favorite musicians' songs? If you're just starting out as a performer and don't have a ton of original songs, or you want to get people's attention and play some crowd favorites, you may want to perform covers live. In order to do so, you'll need a license! Here's how to get one with information from Easy Song Licensing.

Public Performance License

A public performance license is an agreement between a music user and the owner of a copyrighted composition (song), that grants permission to play the song in public, online, or on radio. This permission is also called public performance rights, performance rights, and performing rights.

Do I need a public performance license?

Whenever you perform in public a song you did not write, or play recorded music in public, such as at a club, restaurant, concert, on the radio, or streaming online, public performance licenses are required.

A public performance license is required no matter how small a portion of the song you use. There are some exceptions where a public performance license is not required: You don't need a public performance license for songs that you wrote yourself or songs that are in the public domain.

How do I get a public performance license?

Business owners in the United States should contact the three rights agencies that handle all public performance licensing in the United States, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, to inquire about obtaining public performance licenses. Expect to report your playlists to these agencies and share a small percentage of your revenues for royalties, which the agencies then distribute to the copyright holders.

To obtain public performance licenses in the United States, please contact the following performing rights agencies:

READ MORE: What is a public performance license?

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