A blanket license was developed by performing rights organizations (PROs) to grant general access to the organization’s music catalog.

A blanket license allows you, as the purchaser, access to the copyright holder’s entire musical catalog. The person holding the copyright could be an individual artist, a music publisher or record producer, or the estate of the music’s composer.

With a blanket license, you could take any of the songs from this catalog and use them in your business.

In general, businesses that want to play background music in their establishments will contact a PRO and purchase a blanket license. This license will give the business access to part or all of the PRO’s musical catalog, which the business can then pick from for hours of tunes that customers will recognize since they are popular.

Women on Computers at Work

Alternatives to Blanket License for Business

You must contact each PRO individually to discuss a blanket music license. Remember that working with just one can leave you unprotected, as it's almost impossible to ensure that a song you play resides exclusively within one PRO.

It's time-consuming to contact each PRO and negotiate a contract. It's also ineffective, as a song could be covered by two PROs at once. There are alternatives available.


If your business is smaller than 2,000 square feet and you're using a music source with six speakers or fewer, you can play a commercial radio station. Remember, you can't play a CD or another piece of recorded music, but you can play the radio.

Public Domain Songs

If you have time and talent, you could scour the web for songs within the public domain.

In the United States, copyright tends to expire 70 years after the author dies. Older music could fall into this category, but be careful. Different copyrights could protect modern interpretations of an old song.

Original Music

If you write your own music and play it yourself, you may not need a copyright. But few business owners are also musicians and songwriters.

Streaming Services

Commercial music streaming services like Cloud Cover Music give you the same simple access you expect from Spotify but with appropriate business-centric licenses.

Cloud Cover Music has a low monthly fee that gives you access to a huge catalog of songs and curated playlists to help you get started. Then, you won’t have to worry about whether you can legally play these songs in your business.

What About Working with PROs?

A PRO exists to collect royalties associated with the copyrights for the intellectual property of musicians, composers, and music publishers and then to distribute this income appropriately. Millions of songs are protected by PROs like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, or SONA.

Most PROs were formed by musicians or composers in the industry who wanted to protect their intellectual property rights (and those of their collaborators and colleagues).

Each PRO has similar licenses, although there may be subtle differences. They could grant access in the following ways:

  • Individually: Many offer specific licensing rights for individual songs, which can be used in films or commercials.
  • Commercially: PROs provide licenses to radio stations to play particular songs and allow other artists to perform an arrangement of a piece at a concert.
  • Universally: Almost every PRO offers a blanket license, which is often the simplest way for businesses to access thousands of songs from thousands of artists without worrying about the context of how the song will be heard.

PROs offer blanket licenses for monthly or annual fees, much like a subscription service. While many major recording artists are covered by more than one PRO, no single PRO can give you access to every song you might want.

Instead, businesses often have to purchase blanket licenses across multiple PROs to access large enough catalogs to rotate their music options. This can become expensive quite quickly.

Start Your Free Trial with CCM

Cloud Cover Music contracts with major PROs, so you can play the music you want without contacting multiple agencies for permission.

An affordable monthly subscription fee grants you access to a huge music library to stream in your business. Control the music from any connected device and tap into reports to measure your progress. Contact us and start your free trial.


Playing Music in Your Store: How to Avoid Paying for It. NoLo.

What Is the Public Domain? (July 2022). Copyrightlaws.com

What is a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)? SongTrust Help Center.

Common Licensing Terms Defined. ASCAP.