Description | Kiara Conybeare


Let’s say you’re looking to organize a vast performance or your preparations are already in the works; you’d probably have your mind occupied with the process of getting finances, dance instructors, organizing routines, and music. Due to the enormous workload, you’ll want to make sure you have enough time to prepare for the legal problems around your choice of music for your performances. There are certain things you need to be familiar with when it comes to music performance laws.


Honestly, the fact is that when music is played in public, royalties have to be paid to whoever qualifies as the owner. Dance studios come under the classification “public.”

 The meaning is that you will be required to pay royalties on the music you select to be played, whether during class or at performances.

 Payments made for music in the United States usually go to either one or any other top-performing rights organizations (PROs).  Note that there are three major ones and are American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), or SESAC (originally the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers). 

Many studio owners want to know if they can pay royalties to only one of these organizations; however, it is tough to achieve. This difficulty arises because you must carefully examine each song’s copyright information to be licensed only through one organization. The downside is that a piece with multiple writers is not likely to be approved by just one organization. 

What happens when you buy the music?

Naturally, you might assume that paying for your choice of music saves you from needing to pay royalties. Unfortunately, this is not true. The catch is that even if you have bought music for your use, you will be required to pay royalties again the moment it is used publicly. 

There is no way to escape this. If you are caught using music publicly without the proper authorization, you will be sent a letter from one or more performing rights organizations. They could sue you for copyright infringement. The fee for the fine could go up to $150,000 for each song. 


Some music does not require royalties. Specific databases will allow you to choose from and variety of royalty-free music. However, there are so many reasons why a song would be free from copyright laws. It would be best if you did the proper research. 

Copyrights can sometimes expire. An author can also choose to donate his work to the public. Standardly, most music is subject to copyright for up to 70 years after the author’s demise. 


Whatever you decide to do while choosing music for your performances, you should not forget to keep the necessary legal requirements in mind.

As choreographers and dancers deserve to be paid for their work, you should pay musicians for the use of their art too. It is essential to find out the proper procedures to be followed when using an artist’s work so you do not run into legal problems. It’s simply the right thing to do.