Restaurant, pub, and bar owners in Canada – may we have your attention, please?

Do you know what is needed to offer karaoke legally at your bar? Venues and party organizers are responsible for ensuring that the required licensing is in place. To run karaoke without any hiccups in your business, you need 1.) legal karaoke content and 2.) public performing rights. Simple, eh?

Continue reading about all the details that go into running karaoke commercially in the Land of Maple Leaf. 🍁🎤

The first rule in commercial karaoke is to remember that karaoke songs are essentially remakes of known songs. The karaoke versions of famous songs are reproductions made by karaoke companies and karaoke music producers. They produce cover versions of original songs and sync them with the song lyrics. For more information, check out our blog on karaoke versions.

When it comes to business use, you can’t just blast songs from your hard drive, smartphone, or Youtube at your restaurant. Personal copies are a different story, but for legitimate karaoke in a commercial establishment, you need permission for as much as collecting songs to any device or any kind of storage solution. If you’re hiring a KJ (karaoke jockey) who comes with their own karaoke music, confirm that their music content meets the needed requirements.

Don’t want the extra hassle of hunting down permissible songs? With professional karaoke software, like Singa Business, you don’t need to worry about the permissions for songs – we got you! Singa provides fully-licensed karaoke songs for commercial purposes. Singa Business comes with a catalog of over 80 000 hot and cool karaoke songs, all licensed. The Singa system can be wired or wirelessly set up to your venue’s existing PA & video system. In addition, all Singa Business options come with background music and digital signage services. Check Singa Business options and prices here.

Screenshot of Singa song selection page with a filter for English songs ordered by popularity.

In case you end up NOT using Singa (which wouldn’t make sense, but we always respect your choices), make sure that whoever is providing the music has their CONNECT Music Licensing covered. The CONNECT licence is needed whenever someone makes copies of already existing music to create a new digital sound recording and performs it commercially in public.

Violating the copyright law either directly or indirectly can lead to penalties. Infringement of the Copyright Act can lead to fines and even possible imprisonment. In serious cases the Act provides for a maximum fine of $1,000,000. Definitely not worth moosing around with the law!

2. Public performing rights: Permission from the creators and performers

people partying in Mascot

Now that you have the songs sorted, you need permission to play them at your venue. To play recorded music in any public space in Canada, you need two licences: one from SOCAN and one from Re:Sound. Both organizations look after the copyright benefits of their clients.

SOCAN (The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) represents the rights of the people who create the music: the composers, music creators, and publishers, as well as visual artists. SOCAN protects their rights by licensing music and collecting and distributing royalties.

Re:Sound represents the folks who perform the music: the artists and record labels. Re:Sound collects fees and compensates artists and record labels for their performance rights.

To simplify the licensing process, you can get both SOCAN and Re:Sound licences for commercial and public performing from one place, Entandem. Entandem is a joint venture between Re:Sound and SOCAN. It is created to make the licensing process more straightforward. Play all the music you want legally and ethically by registering on the Entandem website and getting permission from both the creators and performers.

How much do public performing rights cost in Canada?

The Copyright Board of Canada certifies both SOCAN's and Re:Sound's tariffs. To calculate the exact and up-to-date fees for both licences, contact Entandem.

Here are some examples to get an idea of the cost range for SOCAN's and Re:Sound's karaoke business fees.

Legal text on SOCAN tariffs for karaoke bars and similar establishments falling under tariff number 20 in Canada.
SOCAN tariffs for karaoke bars and similar establishments fall under tariff number 20. Source: Copyright Board of Canada, Proposed Statement of Royalties to Be Collected by SOCAN for the Public Performance or the Communication to the Public by Telecommunication, in Canada, of Musical or Dramatico-Musical Works 2019, p. 52.
Legal text on Re:Sound tariffs for karaoke bars falling under tariff number 5 C in Canada.
Re:Sound tariffs for karaoke bars are under tariff number 5 C. Source: Copyright Board of Canada, Proposed Statements of Royalties to Be Collected by Re:Sound for the Performance in Public or the Communication to the Public by Telecommunication, in Canada, of Published Sound Recordings Embodying Musical Works and Performers’ Performances of Such Works 2019, p. 36.

Voilà, there you have it! Karaoke licensing is pretty simple. All you need to remember is that you must have the 1.) permissible content and 2.) licences from the music creators and performers to play their songs commercially and in public. When you have these in place, your success in karaoke power play is guaranteed!  🇨🇦🎶

P.S. Are you wondering how karaoke licensing works in the UK, US or Australia? Check out these Singa blog posts:

👉 UK karaoke licenses

👉 USA karaoke licensing

👉 Australia karaoke licensing