Music Use Rights

What about rights to use music in your classroom?

This is a complicated topic and a grey area. Certainly, composers and performers deserve to be paid for their works. The American Society of Composers and Performers (ASCAP at as well as Broadcast Music Inc (BMI at have for many years regulated music performances, royalties and licenses.

Music in the classroom has been a vague area because these situations are generally small groups, non-profit oriented, and educational. But the area remains somewhat vague. You may want to explore this on your own, but here is my take:

  • If you are a consultant or corporate trainer you will most likely need to obtain an ASCAP license OR find out if the corporation has a ‘blanket’ music license. This would cover many uses including on-hold music and music played in their facility. See the ASCAP website link below.
  • There are also guidelines for Music Educators (see links below)–some of which exclude fees and others that suggest appropriate licenses or royalties.
  • If you are a classroom teacher, you most likely fall under the exemptions regulated by what a ‘public performance’ is. See the link and text below.

Music with Use Rights. Alternatively, there are a few recordings that come with use rights. This includes the Memory Beat CD created by Chris Brewer and Daniel Kobialka –sold on this website–as well as recordings created by Eric Jensen such as Ultimate Music Variety, Greatest Energizer Tunes, Wake Up the Brain and more. These are sold at Corwin Press and Amazon.


For Corporate Trainers and Educational Consultants

From ASCAP: Training and Development


For Music Educators


From Washington State University, Music and Copyright


For PUBLIC and Not-for-Profit SCHOOLS

From ASCAP  (see text below)

The definition of a public performance dictates acceptable scenarios for playing recorded music:

A public performance is one that occurs either in a public place or any place where people gather (other than a small circle of a family or its social acquaintances). A public performance is also one that is transmitted to the public; for example, radio or television broadcasts, music-on-hold, cable television, and by the internet. Generally, those who publicly perform music obtain permission from the owner of the music or his representative. However, there are a few limited exceptions, (called “exemptions”) to this rule. Permission is not required for music played or sung as part of a worship service unless that service is transmitted beyond where it takes place (for example, a radio or television broadcast). Performances as part of face to face teaching activity at a non-profit educational institutions are also exempt. We recommend that you contact your local ASCAP representative who can discuss your needs and how ASCAP can help you.


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