Music Licensing for Pubs, Bars, Breweries, and Hotels

A venue playing music is likely to need a music licence.

Why do bars, pubs, hotels and breweries 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.

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 music streaming service cover music in my venue?

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:

Your rights to use the Spotify Service

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. to your clients and staff), music creators need to be paid public performance royalties - music licence fees.

You have the right to play the majority of popular and well-recognised music from around the world when you have a OneMusic licence.

Music has value – it entertains your customers, makes them want to stay longer and spend more at your venue.

It contributes to your business brand and can influence the behaviour of your customers. The music creators require payment in exchange for their music being used commercially.

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.


Licence fees for pubs, bars, breweries and hotels are tailored to each venue’s music use

  • Background music, live music or featured music like karaoke
  • Function spaces, nightclub-type areas or dining areas
  • Radio, TV, streaming services, music on hold, music videos, music from a background music supplier

are all variations that you can advise OneMusic so your licence fees exactly match the music experience you offer.

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 hospitality community

Staff pouring beers at Young Henry's in Newtown.

Staff at Young Henry's, Newtown NSW.

Our Tasting Bar & Brewery in Newtown is the physical home of our beer & gin, and the spiritual home of our whole company. The vibe we set in here mirrors the vibe we send out to the whole of Australia.

Here at Young Henrys we have always been super supportive of our local music scene, from slinging beers to bands practising down the road, to presenting tours for acts travelling around the country. Everyone at YH lives and breathes for our community, and music is a massive part of that”.

Young Henry’s Brewery, Newtown NSW

OneMusic is a proud partner of:



We recently presented a webinar on the ins and outs of music licensing with Stavros Yiannoukas from Hawke’s Brewing Co, for members of the Independent Brewers’ Association.

We are keen to see musicians paid fairly, particularly up and coming ones. Live music has become a very important part of our business so we have made some great friends within the live music world

-Watts River Brewing


A music promoter organises the live music at our venue. Is it the music promoter, or do we need to take out the OneMusic licence?

As the authorising entity (the venue) is required to hold the licence in almost all cases. There is a list of National Event Promoters who have their own arrangements with OneMusic, but these are generally for very large scale events.

Does a OneMusic background music licence cover free-to-air or pay TV screens?

A 'TV Screen' is:

  • any screen that plays sound* and
  • carries free-to-air or pay television (including Fox Sports, Foxtel)

*even if the sound is from an associated audio source and not the TV unit. Sports bars often carry multiple broadcasts with only one screen being synched with sound. Only those screens that are synched with sound should be counted.

If you can turn your TV sound on, but choose not to, it is counted as a TV screen

If the TV has the ability to be turned up at any time, they'll still be included in your licence fee.

What TV screens are excluded?

  • Screens playing only racing or betting services
  • Dedicated Keno 
  • TAB
  • Sky Racing
  • Screens without an associated audio source are not counted as a background music TV screen.

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.

In the media

Handy tips

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.



Have a query? We’re here to help. Contact us:

1300 162 162