Copyright infringement, piracy, and theft. Many businesses faced these serious and unfortunate charges after illegally playing unlicensed music on hold. What is even more unfortunate is that these crimes are mostly committed due to lack of awareness about on hold music licensing, causing the RIAA to increasingly enforce property laws.
Playing illegal music (whether you know it or not) can cost your business big money and can even lead to jail time - not to mention it can potentially jeopardize your business's reputation (ouch!). This is why your Music On Hold, Overhead Music, and any music you use in marketing videos must all be legally licensed to avoid serious repercussions.
According to the RIAA, a user who downloads music that has not been purchased is breaking the law, even if it is never played publicly. Intellectual property law protects the expression of ideas and allows people who create music (and other creative forms) to make a living from their creative abilities.
Businesses use music for setting a certain mood and entertain customers. For example, as a couple sits over a candle lit dinner at a fine dining restaurant, usually there is some sort of delicate, classical music playing to enhance their dining experience. Targeted music influences consumer behavior. If you own a junior clothing store, your “tween” customers expect to hear Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift blasting through the speakers. To be able to do this, businesses must purchase the rights to the music in order to legally play copyrighted songs. Trying to manage this task without using a music subscription service requires large amounts of time and still may result in non-licensed music being played.
When implementing music or messages on hold, you'll want to follow the same rules. Sometimes, business owners know silence on hold is unappealing and will play an FM radio station while the caller waits. With the adoption of mp3 players and downloadable music, a new trend among tech-savvy business owners and IT personnel is using mp3 players to rebroadcast the music purchased on line at Amazon or iTunes. Although this music was legally purchased, playing it through an on hold system is considered a "rebroadcast" of the music and is not permitted. Often, these business owners are either naïve or under the false impression that because they are not a large company they won’t be targeted by the “music police” for this crime. Unfortunately for them, in recent years' copyright owners have specifically aimed to control the smaller businesses. In order to avoid this common mistake of placing unlicensed music on your hold message, most voice production companies will provide licensed music for your telephone on hold music.
The right kind of music is an integral part of creating a specific atmosphere for your customers. Don't let the positive effects of music hinder your business due to illegally using music to enhance your customer's experience. Music On Hold has a tremendous effect on elongating the amount of time a caller will wait on hold and overhead music has a direct effect on a consumer's experience at your business location.
What do your callers hear when they are placed on hold? How are you broadcasting music in your store, restaurant, or waiting room? Put yourself in the customer's shoes and call or visit your company to see what your customers experience.