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I want to... Play music that is not required for degrees or courses in music—live or recorded—in the student union, fitness facility, or during a sporting event, awards ceremony, skit, or student organization event or party

December 30, 1899


​License required

 Performance rights, when no other exemption applies.


Purchasing music does not necessarily convey the right to publicly perform or display it. These are separate rights of the copyright owner and require his or her permission. It is not generally necessary, however, to obtain individual permissions for each piece of music. For nondramatic uses of music, a system was developed to make obtaining copyright permissions easier. There are three major performing rights organizations—the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and SESAC (originally the Society of European Stage Authors & Composers)—that control the performance rights to about 97 percent of the music in the United States.


Acquire performance licenses from all 3 organizations. Since each organization controls the rights to a discrete repertory of music, to ensure complete copyright compliance, a music user should have licenses with each organization.

All 3 organizations have been willing to negotiate blanket licenses for use by higher education institutions. These blanket licenses allow an institution to pay an annual fee to cover public performances of music on campus, as well as certain types of off-campus functions, including dances, mixers, and parties hosted by student organizations. For a list of performances, see the complete Use of Copyrighted Music on College and University Campuses, or speak with campus counsel.

Rates (2012-13)
BMI​ One-tier: $0.341 per FTE; minimum payment of $270.53
​Two-tier: $0.319 per FTE; minimum payment of $216.20
​ASCAP ​One-tier: $0.33 per FTE; minimum payment of $273.00
​Two-tier: $0.31 per FTE; minimum payment of $220.00
​SESAC ​$0.1274 per FTE; minimum payment of $253.00




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