live-bandChances are you will want to have music playing in your restaurant.  You may have live musicians from time to time, you may want play your favorite CD's or you may pay someone to create some CDs for you that reflect the atmosphere you want.

In all these circumstances, you are broadcasting copyright material and must pay royalties for using the music in your business.  Live performers usually play copy right material, when you purchase a CD you are only entitled to play it for your personal enjoyment, not in your business, and a CD created from the works of various composers is created from copyright material.

socanCanada's copyright laws require you pay to for the use of the music. Luckily, this has been made easy and inexpensive. The Federal Government, who have authority over copyright material, have given the administration of collecting royalties to the Society of Composers, Authors and Musicians of Canada (SOCAN). This is simplified by issuing an annual licence to use music in places of business. The licence fee depends on the manner in which the music is used. Most restaurants use background music.  The licence for background music is $94.51 or $1.23 per square metre or 11.46¢ per square foot, whichever is greater (only half the licence fee is paid by establishment open less than six months of the year.)

radioBuying your licence fee assures the composer or songwriter receives the royalties they're entitled to receive.  SOCAN has reciprocal agreements with every country in the world, and pays a share of their licence fees to other countries to distribute to their composers and songwriters.  In turn, SOCAN collects royalties for Canadians whose work is played outside Canada.

It is illegal to play music without a licence. Failure to have a licence can lead to a business being taken to court and required to pay  substantial legal penalties as well as costs being imposed under the Canadian Copyright Act.

You can contact SOCAN for more information. Their website is

When do I not have to pay for a music licence?

  • If you only have an un amplified (i.e. no additional speakers attached) radio playing, the radio station has already received the licence.
  • If you use a professional "piped in" music provider, make sure they are licensed to provide you the music. If so, then you are covered by their licence fees.
  • If you only play music in the public domain (meaning the composer or songwriter has been dead for 50 years or more) you may not need a licence.

Sources for Public Domain Music:


Community driven music repository. MP3 recordings of public domain music. As the site puts it: “This project exists so that educational institutions and the general public can have free, unlimited access to all kinds of music that have expired copyrights.” Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and early 20th century works.


The recordings on this site have been placed in the public domain, so there are no restrictions on what you may do with them. The site’s operators ask that you don’t directly sell the recordings for profit, though, and that you give credit to Musopen for any material that you use. Now, technically, you don’t have to do either of those things ... but I’ll leave that to your conscience.


Downloadabe MP3s. Various works and artists, from Sophie Tucker to the US Marine Band to Giusseppe Verdi. Many sound recordings here are in the US public domain, but not all. The bibliographic record for each work includes its copyright status, so take a look. If the work is copyrighted, a license will apply ... so always check the work’s Readme file. If you don’t, well, it’ll be your own damn fault if you get into trouble.


24 collections in the Library of Congress’ American Memory include sound recordings. There’s a mix of spoken word and music recordings — you can hear person-on-the-street interviews made just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as recations to the September 11 attacks. What else? The stories of former slaves ... Thomas Edison’s sound recordings ... Northern California folk music from the 1930s ... and more. Check the list.

Many of the sound recordings in these collections don’t have copyright restrictions on them, but some certainly do. Each collection has a “Copyright and Other Restrictions” page that gives rights information specific to it. So read it.

Recipes by Gina - Recipe of the Moment

Calcannon with Sausage

  • 3 Lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered (#87113)
  • 1 tsp salt (#13791)
  • 4 cups finely chopped kale (stuff and pack measuring cup)
  • 1 large chopped onions
  • ½ cup butter (#44115)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 Lb smoked sausage (Cut into 6 pieces) (#24295)

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  • Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until potatoes are tender. 
  • While potatoes are cooking, bring water to a boil in another pan.  Add the chopped kale into the boiling water. Boil for three minutes. Drain all the water off thoroughly and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a skillet then add the chopped onion. Sauté onion until tender and set aside. 
  • When potatoes are finished cooking pour into a colander to thoroughly drain off the water. Place potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Slowly beat the potatoes until broken down. Increase speed of mixer and gradually add the butter and onion to the potatoes. Whip the potatoes until fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove bowl from mixer and add the drained kale to the mixture. Blend in with a large spoon. Spoon mixture into a baking casserole dish.
  • Arrange sausages on top of the potato mixture, pushing them slightly down into the potatoes.
  • Place dish in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until top begins to slightly brown.
  • NOTE: This recipe is great warmed over. It is easier to cut when cold and the flavour is a little stronger when warmed up. Microwave works well for warming this dish.