Music Licensing for Cafes and Restaurants

Cafes, restaurants and fine dining venues that play music are likely to need a licence.

Why do cafes and restaurants need a licence?

If you are playing music, it is highly likely you need a music licence. Permission to play music protected by copyright is a legal requirement in a business/commercial setting.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how you play the music, the same law applies.

You can get permission by purchasing a blanket licence from OneMusic, giving you legal access to the majority of popular music worldwide.

Alternatively, you can:

  •  Ask the music creators for permission for each piece of music you play and pay them directly, one by one- a time consuming and nearly impossible task.
  • Only play royalty-free music. It's often difficult to determine what music really is royalty free. It's not the safest option, and it's very limiting with what music you can play.

Doesn't my streaming service subscription cover music in my business?

Subscribing to a music streaming service, (paid subscription or free) is not the same as having a music licence. Background music suppliers simply provide the music, but not the licence to play to the public. The streaming services most of us use every day is for our personal use. Take Spotify, for example, this is clearly stated in their Terms and Conditions:

Access to the Spotify Services

"Subject to your compliance with these Terms (including any other applicable terms and conditions), we grant to you limited, non-exclusive, revocable permission to make personal, non-commercial use of the Spotify Service and the Content (collectively, "Access"). This Access shall remain in effect unless and until terminated by you or Spotify. You agree that you will not redistribute or transfer the Spotify Service or the Content."

Play it public and you need to pay a licence fee or get permission another way. The basic rule is if you are playing music to the public (e.g. playing our music in your dance classes to students and/or to an audience at dance school events), music creators need to be paid public performance royalties - music licence fees.

What are royalties?

The money from music licence fees goes to music creators. These are called royalties. OneMusic keeps track of the music being played in a huge database drawn from radio and television stations, performance reports, streaming services, music recognition technology like Audoo and data from background music suppliers.


How is my music licence cost determined?

Background music fees for cafes and restaurants are based on both the seating capacity and what device you're using to play the music, whether you’re a fast-food franchise, full table service restaurant, café or bistro. In Australia Music licence fees for your sector start at $100 a year.

What happens if I don't take out a licence?

Being without a licence is an infringement of copyright and can end in Court. Playing music for commercial use without permission can constitute an infringement of copyright which, if not rectified, may lead to legal action. A court proceeding may result in your business having to not only pay the licence fees due but other damages and legal costs on top of that.

How do I know you're not a scam?

You can easily check if OneMusic is a scam. We understand that people need to be alert to online scams and do their research. Government websites can confirm our legitimacy:

Our Dining community


OneMusic licensee Dead Ringer in Surry Hills, NSW.

“We can't overstate how important we think music is to bars and restaurants, we don't play commercial music and so we are very supportive of our music licence fees going directly to the artists we feature. (We even share) our curated playlists online for customers to access, we truly do support and love music”.

David Hobbs, Dead Ringer Bar and Restaurant

“Music has such a big influence, if you have nothing your place of business has no life to it, if you have the wrong music it can literally drive customers in essence, music is everything!”

Karen Meadowcroft, Shiny Brew Café.

You can find more about OneMusic at:

R&CA logo, SBAA logo.

We even have an award for restaurants and cafes!

The OneMusic Excellence Award rewards dining venues who have elevated music to be their premier marketing drawcard, and are presented at the annual Restaurant and Catering Association Awards for Excellence in each state!

Handy tips 


 What food and hospitality media say about music licensing

How can I use music on social media, and is it covered by a OneMusic licence?

Personal/non-commercial use of music in social media videos is covered under our agreements with the social media platforms. Please refer to the music-use policy of the social platform in question for more information. 

Non personal/commercial use of music in a social media or YouTube video will require direct permission from the rights holders of the songs in question. These are separate to the rights provided via a OneMusic licence. Please see our guide on synchronisation rights.

Who is OneMusic?

The performing right organisations behind OneMusic have been licensing the use of music for almost 100 years. Launched in 2019, OneMusic is a joint initiative of APRA AMCOS and PPCA. In an effort to simplify the licensing process for customers, they created one licence to cover music use by songwriters, publishers, recording artists, record labels and composers.

Video resources 



Have a query? We’re here to help.

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