Use of music

Use of music

RCW 19.370 establishes requirements for music licensing organizations conducting business in Washington state.


Businesses and other entities that use copyrighted music are required by U.S. Copyright Law to obtain the permission of each songwriter or composer before playing their music publicly. These rights are commonly obtained through licenses issued by music performing rights licensing organizations known as performing rights societies, or performing rights organizations (“PROs”).


Many businesses, such as bars, restaurants, retail establishments, and fitness facilities, use music in a variety of ways as part of their operations. They may host live bands, perform recorded music via an iPod, play CDs, or feature a DJ or karaoke for their patrons and customers. U.S. Copyright Law grants songwriters, composers and music publishers a “right of public performance” that gives them the exclusive right to perform their copyrighted musical works publicly and to authorize, or deny permission to, music users to do the same.


PROs represent songwriters, composers, and music publishers to license their copyrighted musical works to music users, and then collect and distribute the license fees to the PRO’s affiliates and members in the form of royalties. Each PRO license agreement grants businesses the right to play the musical works in that PRO’s respective repertorie through a single music license with that PRO.


If you intend to use music in your business, please contact an entity such as the ones listed below for additional information. The Department of Revenue does not intend this to be an exhaustive list of such entities: