WE KNOW MUSIC LICENSING
Music is an integral part of group fitness and can add to the already great experience provided by your studio location. Part of using music in group fitness classes is ensuring that you are compliant with copyright law through the securing of public performance licenses. This is necessary so that music copyright owners can be appropriately paid for their work.
Please note that the information provided is intended to be informational only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. For legal advise please consult an attorney or the Performing Rights Organizations directly.
Music Licenses Explained
Rock My Fitness Class is a commercial and business music licensed service. In addition to having a music service licensed for business use, gyms and fitness studios must have additional music licenses to allow them to publically perform music at their businesses. Your Rock My Fitness Class subscription includes a license from the record companies, aka "music labels", granting the right to publicly perform music. However, your business must also have a license granting the right to publicly perform music from the 4 Performing Rights Organizations (PROs), "song righters/performers". The Rock My Fitness Class subscription does not include licences from the 4 PROs and you will need to obtain these directly.
Please note, a license to publicly perform music at a fitness business is a requirement from the licensing agencies, not from Rock My Fitness Class. Rock My Fitness Class can help you navigate and obtain a Fitness License from all 4 PROs.
Why FOUR Licenses Are Necessary
ASCAP, BMI, GMR, and SESAC all represent different artists. To ensure that you can play any artist regardless of who they are signed with, it is highly recommended to secure all four licenses so your business is fully compliant.
How to Secure These Licenses
To obtain proper music PERFORMANCE licensing for your studio(s) you will need to complete appropriate forms with ASCAP, BMI, GMR, and SESAC.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use Spotify at my studio?No. We love Spotify, but the answer is no, you can’t. In fact, none of the major music streaming apps is legal in a business/commercial setting. Read the Spotify Terms - "personal, non-commercial, entertainment use only." This means it can’t be played in a business such as a gym. But don't worry, we have smarter music, hand selected by professional DJs, and we mix it specifically for the group fitness experience. Our DJs take the most upbeat portions of those songs and we mix them together seamlessly so there are no awkward pauses between songs. This is something Spotify and other music streaming apps don’t do. Their playlists are songs “shuffled” by a computer algorithm.
How can I play music legally at my gym?Rock My Gym licenses all the necessary rights in order for our music to be played in a background manner at most businesses. However, fitness businesses must obtain additional licensing from the four PRO organizations (ASCAP, BMI, GMR, and SESAC) in order to legally publicly performance music in a gym or fitness studio. The music industry requires this extra licensing to compensate them more because they have determined that music used in fitness businesses is much more integral in producing revenue. As a part of our services, we will help you determine if your business needs to secure these licenses.
Why do I need licenses to play music?Music is copyrighted and protected by U.S. law. When an artist/composer writes a song, they have the right to control what happens to their original creation. Every time someone (or some company) wants to use music they need to ask for and get permission from the creator of the musical work to play that composition, and this results in a music license to use a composition. In addition to obtaining a license from the composer to play music you will need to obtain a license from the entity that owns the sound recording. Most artists contract with a record company, or music label (Universal, Sony, Warner), to record their song. The result of the studio recording of a song is called a Master recording. The label provides the technology and studio to record the musical work and usually pays to promote and distribute the sound recording and in exchange they get ownership of the Master recording. When a business plays a sound recording of the copyrighted Master recording the music label expects to be paid. The contractual permission to play compositions/songs and sound recordings are called licenses. The artists you know and love all want to be paid for their work!
Do businesses need multiple licenses to play music?Yes, each song has two different copyrights that each require a license. First, the sound recording which is what you normally think about when you listen to a song and second, the ‘music” meaning the underlying words and notes for each song generally referred to as a “composition”. This is the songwriter’s copyright. For the sound recordings, most users of music will approach the music label that recorded the master recording to obtain the proper license. For the song/music, most artists generally sign with an agent to represent them. These agents are referred to as Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) and in the United States there are 4 of them. They are ASCAP, BMI, GMR, and SEASAC.
Do I need to get a license through all four licensors (ASCAP, BMI, GMR, and SESAC)?"Yes, the reason being is that Rock My Gym, just like any other music services, uses a combination of music from all four licensors. Additionally, each song individually can have a percentage of the copyright be owned by multiple difference licensors. By securing licenses from all 4 music licensors you are ensuring that your business is fully copyright compliant regardless of which song is played.
I’ve heard that I may need another license on top of what is provided and paid for by Rock My Gym?Yes, as stated above, Rock My Gym obtains the proper licensing for background music use by a business. For many retail businesses, restaurants, or office settings this may be all the licensing you need. However, the PROs do require an additional license to “Publicly Perform” music at a gym or fitness studio. The license is payment for using music in activities where it becomes much more integral in producing revenue. The cost of these licenses will depend on the size of your facility, the number of members, and whether of not you have group fitness classes. The cost will vary and the total cost of fitness licenses for all 4 PROs will generally cost between $1,000 - $2,000 per year.
What is the bottom line; what should I do to protect my business?We highly recommend you only use a music streaming service that is properly licensed for business and commercial use. Rock My Gym is one of those streaming services that is properly licensed. In addition, you must also obtain fitness licenses from the 4 PROs in the United States.
What about music I’ve downloaded or have on CD’s?Just like other consumer streaming services (Spotify, Apple, etc), downloads and CDs are for personal use only and cannot be used in a business. Business use of these products is strictly prohibited.
I have international locations. How can I get them licensed?The licensing in foreign countries is similar to the United States, but you must interact with different organizations. Rock My Gym is licensed in many foreign countries and we can help direct you.