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Music Licenses for Social Dance Activities
Social dancers are inspired by the music we dance to. In this way, we are music-lovers just as much as we are dancers. We need to pay our respects, and our dues, to the musicians who inspire us to dance. It not just a nice tribute to them as artists; IT'S THE LAW.
If you are hosting a social dance activity, you are required by federal law to obtain a music license from the agencies that own the rights to the music you play. To be on the safe side, you need to hold licenses from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. These agencies have the rights to almost all recorded music in the United States and you are most likely playing their music at your events. Trust us, you don't want to receive a demand letter from them.
To help you get a fair price on the licenses you need, ASDA has partnered up with the National FastDance Association, an organization that offers special pricing on music licenses. Members of ASDA can easily purchase licenses at affordable rates and quickly provide proof of their rights to licensing agents and facilities. Obtaining a license directly from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC is very expensive and cumbersome.
What must be licensed:
1) Any event that charges a cover and plays music.
2) A members-only event for an organization that requires its members to pay dues.
What doesn't need to be licensed:
1) A private event for friends and family that does not charge any entrance fees (i.e., a wedding or house party).
2) An event that is at a venue that is already licensed to play music for events (i.e., a bar). This exception may not apply to hotels because their license may only cover the elevator music in the lobby. Check with your hotel/venue to see if their license will cover your activities.
3) Face-to-face teaching activity as a non-profit educational institution.
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