DentalPC has implemented a wide variety of technical solutions over the years:
- A simple FM radio receiver tuned to a local station. These can be problematic with getting a clean signal, and then there are commercials to deal with.
- A CD changer was a popular option for many years. But, the staff get tired of the limited selection this often poses. You have to keep buying CDs to stay current, and spend time loading them.
- XM/Sirius Satellite Radio receivers have become quite popular, and offer a good variety of commercial free digital radio. It has a few challenges:
- You need to have an antenna mounted that can receive the satellites signal. If your audio system was deep in the middle of an office building, it might not be able to get a reliable signal
- There is a monthly fee for this service, $10 per month or more depending on your plan
- Not all stations are commercial free
- Internet radio: Pandora, Spotify, MOG, Rhapsody, etc.
- allows you to “stream” music using your internet connection.
- It requires
- a source or service from which to stream music from
- a device to play it back thru your office speakers
- control to select songs or change playlists
For personal use, I like the MOG service at $9.99/month, MOG desktop application with Airplay built in, and an Apple Airport Express (doubles as a wireless router and you can control music from your iphone, ipad, ipod, or desktop) make for the easiest way to get commercial free music in your office, while still offering custom playlists or Radio mix from an ever expanding music library.
But Is it legal?
Lets start with this. I’m not a copyright lawyer, and this isn’t legal advice. Short answer is no. Music is so common and widespread in our culture that frequently many of us take for granted the right we have (or think we have) to play it. Most people fail to realize that a legal license is required by law to play any copyrighted music.
Copyright law is contained in U.S. Code at Title 17. More specifically, you'll want to read 17 U.S.C. sec. 110 et. seq.. There are exceptions in the statute such as section 110(5)(B) [that] permits a non-food-service establishment to publicly play a radio receiving terrestrially-broadcasted music, provided that the establishment is less than 2000 square feet, that the sound system have no more than 6 speakers and no more than 4 in one room, that no one is charged to listen, that the transmission isn't further broadcast, and that the broadcasting station is licensed. However, not every setup is contained within an exception.
The ASCAP and BMI control the majority of copyright licenses in the music industry. They maintain standard fee schedules for different classes of businesses and organizations that set out the basis for fees and from which businesses can determine their cost of an annual license. These organizations have different rate schedules for various industries.
What Happens If I Don’t Get a License?
Failure to obtain a license to perform copyrighted music publicly is copyright infringement under the copyright law. The infringer is subject to a civil suit in federal court. Sanctions against an infringer can include an injunction and the copyright owner’s actual damages, as well as the infringer’s profits, or “statutory damages” of up to $30,000 for each copyrighted song performed without a license (up to $150,000 if the infringement is willful). The infringer can also be required to pay the copyright owners’ legal fees. The law further provides for criminal sanctions against those who willfully infringe on a copyright for commercial advantage or private gain.
Will BMI or ASCAP really Contact Me If I’m Playing Music?
It is true that, because of the difficulty of monitoring the millions of performances of copyrighted music taking place every day, royalties are not paid by every small and large business. But,
given the changes in the commercial use of music, business owners should not be surprised if they are contacted and offered music licensing agreements by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC representatives — either by mail, phone or in person.
There are several streaming music services that purport to have legal methods to stream copyrighted music to your business over the internet commercial free, all at significantly higher cost than mainstream consumer based streaming services.
- Cost $36/year
- Playing music in a commercial setting: Due to the terms of our music licenses, the consumer version of the Pandora service (including Pandora One) cannot legally be used to play music in a commercial setting, such as retail stores, restaurants or spas. This most likely means dental offices.
- Less Control
- No Custom Playlists, just plays songs that “sound like” an artist or song
- They require that you poke it at least sometime every 2-5 hours. If they don’t sense you are there and listening, they will pause the music feed and pop up a “Are you still listening” message. They pay royalties for the music played (just like a radio station) and they don’t want to waste resources if you aren’t there.
Internet Radio Stations
- Like a local radio station, may or may not have ads, you are exposed to international stations that may have varying standards on what is acceptable content.
- Never sure what acceptable use is for these stations
- Cost $4.99/mo for computer or $9.99/mo for phones/tablets/PCs
- ...and we grant you a limited, non-exclusive, revocable licence to make personal, non-commercial use of the Spotify Service and to receive the media content made available through the Spotify Service in your Local Country
- More Control
- Control from PC based app, or device based app, select individual songs in a playlist
- No Radio feature, you MUST create a playlist
- Cost Cost $4.99/mo for computer or $9.99/mo for phones/tablets/PCs
- You may not: (viii) use the Application for any commercial or illegal purpose; (ix) use the Application for anything other than your personal, non-commercial purposes, including without limitation the excessive and/or repeated playing of content (for the apparent purpose increasing royalties paid or ratings as applied to such content)
- More Control:
- Control from PC based app, or device based app, select individual songsin a playlist
- Radio Feature like Pandora
- Airplay compatible
- Apple Airplay - using a Apple Airport Express, you can use the MOG application on any PC and route the sound thru the Airport Express to your office speakers
- Logitech Squeezebox - has App plugins on the device itself, for both MOG and Spotify, as well as internet Radio Stations. But controlling it from PCs is difficult and it costs twice as much as the airport express
- Hook an audio jack directly to the PC with MOG, iTunes, or Spotify on it. Connect the audio from their PC to the Stereo system amplifier. The PC needs to be close, and you still end up with all the other ‘Bings’ and ‘Boings’ your PC makes going out over the office speaker system.