Music Licensing


Wineries use music as a marketing tool and it is a key aspect of agri-tourism. Whether it be music in the tasting room or a concert in the vineyard, music is an essential part of the experience of visiting a winery. A music Performing Rights Organization (PRO) represents songwriters, composers and music publishers, collects royalties from licenses, and pays the royalties back to the artists. There are three major PROs: BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.

Policy Objectives

Who Owns What: Readily available ownership information is critical to facilitate more efficient licensing and accuracy in payment. Songwriters and artists cannot be paid if users and distributors do not know who owns what or who should be paid. This up-to-date information should be available to the public in an easily accessible format, such as in a copyright ownership registry.

  1. Where the Money Goes: Music users and distributors have paid, and continue to pay, to perform or provide music publicly. But clear information on where that money goes, how it is split and distributed and why, needs to be made available to artists, songwriters and distributors in an easily trackable format.
  2. Billing Practices: Clarity on what music users are required to pay creates healthy business relationships. Licenses should appropriately reflect actual usage, identify the space in which the music is heard by the public, and disclose the frequency that music is played by a venue. An invoice should clearly state what a venue is required to pay by law or contract, and when they are exempt.

Copyright Office Modernization: Sensenbrenner Draft

WineAmerica supports greater transparency on the part of the Performance Licensing Organizations. In order to have a transparent and centralized system, a third party database is necessary.

Database housed in the Library of Congress

  • Will contain the title, date of registration, identity of all owners, names of principal recording artists, and album titles of works.
  • Will be publicly accessible, without charge on a website maintained by the copyright office.
  • All information updated on a weekly basis.
  • A user of the database shall not be liable for monetary relief, or for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the user’s reliance on the information contained in the database, if the user has registered with the database and regularly updates its licensing agreements based on the information it includes.
  • Any person or entity failing to comply with any reporting or compulsory process served pursuant to section 711(f) shall be barred from asserting a claim for statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c) or additional damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504(d).