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DIY Background Music for Small Businesses

| Published February 18, 2022

Is your small business open to the public? Background music can be a great way to increase revenue, decrease perceived wait time, and provide guests a great experience. If you’re not using the right streaming service, you could run into legal trouble. In this blog, we will explain how to set up a background music system for your small business that is completely legal, in less than an hour, all by yourself.

Don’t feel like reading? Watch the video version above.

Before we get to the “how to,” let’s talk about the “but why.” Whether out of lack of knowledge or lack of budget, small business owners often use their personal streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, or Pandora to play background music in their business. This is where the legal trouble can arise.

The key words here are “personal” and “public.” Unless you’re a lawyer, you probably didn’t read the terms and conditions. If you do read the fine print, you’ll see your personal subscription only covers copyright for recreational use, not in a for-profit environment. By playing the personal services in your business space, you are violating the terms and conditions.

If reported to the three major Performing Rights Organizations, BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, your business could get blindsided with a hefty fee for copyright infringement. Yikes.

The good news is the same streaming services you enjoy privately have subscriptions options for businesses! Although a higher investment per month, you are legally protected and are doing the right thing to compensate musical artists for their work.

Can you play music without violating copyright laws?

Technically, yes, there are two ways:
1. Play public domain works
2. Play terrestrial radio or TV with very specific restrictions on the space To read about these options, check out this article from the National Federation for Independent Businesses.

Background Music System Components

Music Streaming Services

A music streaming service with business specific copyrights is the best option to pump music into your lobby, waiting room, or seating area without any fuss.

Below we’ve listed five music streaming services for you to consider for your small business. The services range from lower cost with basic playlist access to higher cost for the latest music and a full suite of controls, such as no ads, mood schedules, and explicit filters.


If you like Sirius XM, try Sirius XM for Business

If you like Spotify, try Soundtrack Your Brand

If you like Apple Music, try Soundsuit

If you like Pandora, try Pandora for Business

If you like TuneIn, try CloudCover Music

If you like human curation, try CustomChannels

Smart Speakers

Once you’ve chosen your streaming service, there are generally two options for actually playing the music:

  • Smartphone or Tablet to Smart Speaker – Set-up with an app you download; connects to smart speakers over your existing WiFi using casting technology.
  • Dedicated media player or Computer – Set-up requires logging into web portal; connecting external speaker with cables

A dedicated media player is the best choice if you need to play music all the time, like if the WiFi is down, or if you’re integrating the service into an older, analog speaker system. As this option is more complicated, we won’t be covering dedicated media players in this article. (Let us know if this is something you’d read!)

To get started, you’ll need to buy one or two speakers depending on the size of your space. We recommend putting the speakers on a higher counter, book shelf or somewhere higher up for a better listening position. Some speakers brands offer wall mounts to securely mount them to the wall.

While all are wireless for connecting to the streaming service, power isn’t wireless yet. You’ll need a power outlet to plug-in the speaker.

The list of speakers below starts with the highest quality, highest investment and goes down from there.

Sonos

Features | Buy | Set-up Guide

Audio Pro

Light Track Speakers | Bookshelf Speakers | Buy | Set-up Guide

Bluesound Pulse

Options / Buy | Set-up Guide

Denon Home

Options / Buy | Set-up Guide

Bose Smart Speakers

Options | Buy | Set-up Guide

Amazon Echo Studio

Options / Buy | Set-up Guide

Google Nest Audio

Options / Buy | Set-up Guide

⚠️Take note!

Sonos is the only speaker option above with direct integration to the business streaming services and wireless set-up. The other speakers are designed for home integration and will still allow playing music from the services over WiFi via AirPlay or Chromecast. You will just have to place the speaker out of reach and mute the voice assistant so guests don’t mess with it.

Back to Business

So there you have it! With smart set-up, you can enhance the guest experience in your business space while avoiding litigation and supporting artists.


If this was helpful for you, please share this article with a fellow business owner. If your business is growing and you need greater capabilities than what these smart speakers can offer, such as live paging, send us a message to set up a free consultation with one of our AV experts.

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We are a premiere audiovisual integration firm serving corporate, government, healthcare, house of worship, and education markets with easy-to-use solutions that drive success. Family-owned and operated from Appleton, WI for over 35 years.