Money Matters

Music in the Marketplace---Who Pays the Piper?

By playing compact discs and the radio over more than two loud speakers in his salon, Smith was unknowingly violating U.S copyright law, which requires that music artists be paid when their compositions are played for the public.

You do! Just ask Don Smith, owner of Beauty Centers’s Ultra Salon in Las Vegas, Nevada. By playing compact discs and the radio over more than two loud speakers in his salon, Smith was unknowingly violating U.S copyright law, which requires that music artists be paid when their compositions are played for the public. The law states that a person must either obtain permission from the copyright holder or obtain a license to play copyrighted music by mechanical means, such as videotapes, large-screen or multiple television sets, a record or tape player, or a radio-over-loud speaker system not of a kind commonly used in private homes.

Smith received a letter from the American Society of Composers, Authors, & Publishers (ASCAP) telling him that he was violating copyrighted material and needed to get a license if he wanted to continue playing the music. ASCAP’s licensing fees for salons are based on salon size, number of speakers used, and hours of operation. ASCAP set Smith’s annual licensing fee at $1,018.50.

At first, Smith declined to pay the license fee and turned the music off, but eventually he did become licensed for about $600 a year through a company recommended by ASCAP. A satellite dish was installed and now his clients can sit back, relax, and enjoy the paid-for music.

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