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Music In Your Malaysian Store: What To Know About Licensing

Music In Your Malaysian Store: What To Know About Licensing

Music is an effective tool to create the right ambience and setting for your establishment. It sets the tone for customers and tells them what kind of business you are from the second they walk-in.

Furthermore, studies have shown that playing music is beneficial for the well-being of a person in many ways, directly affecting the moods and motivations of your staff.

So, it’s simple, right? Get a speaker/PA system set-up, plugin and press play.

Well, not so.

The legalities surrounding the use and reproduction of commercial music are tedious. The copyright laws really put a dent into the whole process. Even playing music from Spotify or Youtube is considered “illegal”, as their licenses do not cover commercial use.

For Malaysian businesses, we’ll try to guide you to the right departments, licenses and paperwork without getting into the nitty-gritty of things. For the application process, skip ahead to the 3rd header.

1. Why Do You Need A License To Play Music?

According to the Music Author’s Copyright Protection (MACP) Berhad, it boils down to The Malaysian Copyright Act of 1987. Simply put, this act serves to protect the music owner’s entitlement to the law, to protect others from using their work without consent.

Generally, in Malaysia, a musical work is protected by copyright laws during the life of its’ author, and for 50 years after his/her death.

Infringement occurs when a person uses, reproduces, performs or rents the work in or to the public, without having received consent from the original author. Consent is mostly granted through fees which are known as royalties.

Copyright laws outline extenuating circumstances which we know as “fair use” terms. Meaning, that copyrighted material can be used without a license for reasons like critique and education.

However, businesses playing music falls under commercial use. So yes, by playing another person’s music in your store without paying, you are technically infringing upon their copyright.

2. What Licenses And Permissions Am I Looking At? [restrict]

There are 3 main bodies that represent the general welfare and rights of musicians in Malaysia. These are:

  • PPM (Public Performers Malaysia)
  • RPM (Recording Performers Malaysia Sdn Bhd)
  • MACP (Music Authors Copyright Protection)

It’s a chore to get into the details of what each organization requires and charges, so there is a 4th body that represents all entities under a single roof.

This is the MRM (Music Rights Malaysia) group.

From 1st Jan 2017, the group has effectively consolidated the music issuance, collection and distribution activities in Malaysia, simplifying the otherwise tedious process for licensees.

MRM represents PPM, RPM and MACP  in their licensing activities, with members from all groups serving as board directors for the collective.

3. The Application Process

MRM’s simple 5-step process allows you to obtain the necessary license for your business needs. These are found here on their website.

MRC's simple 5-step process for music licensing.
MRM’s 5 step-process for music licensing. Sourced from their website.

Their application forms, available on their website, are divided into 5 different categories:

  1. Single Event Use
  2. Concert Use
  3. Public Performance 1 (Retail and Business)
  4. Public Performance 2 (Hospitality and Care)
  5. Commercial

For small business owners, you’ll be wanting the 3rd form, which is the Public Performance 1 form. The tariffs and costs incurred are:

Minimum Fee (first 2000 sq ft) – RM750.00

Each additional sq ft                       – RM 0.248 per sq ft.

These fees are for Non-Featured Music, which means the playing of musical works and/or recordings that is not the main featured entertainment (which is more than likely what you’re after if you’re a shop or business owner.)

For more information on other tariffs and usage, click here.

4. Conclusion

Where this was once an exhausting process, MRM has gone ahead and simplified the it into a 5-step process, followed by a  form application. So long as you have the details filled out correctly, there should be no reason for them to reject your application(s).

This also means that you will be safe to play music in your shop as you please, setting the right mood for your staff and yourself.

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