How Much Does an ASCAP License Cost?

Written by: Staff

If you own a business and you want to broadcast copyrighted music to the public, there’s a good chance you will need an ASCAP license to legally broadcast it.

This license offers you public performance rights, allowing to legally play over 4,000,000 songs to the public.

Wildcard - Rock and Pop Function Band by Entertainment Nation, on Flickr
Wildcard – Rock and Pop Function Band” (CC BY 2.0) by Entertainment Nation

How much does an ASCAP license cost?

The cost of an ASCAP license will be based on a few factors:  the type of facility you run, how much music you’re playing, the occupancy, admission charge and other miscellaneous factors.  The geographical location plays no role as the rates are the same across the board in the United States.

We took a look at their official rate reports and included the quotes we had found inside our table below:

Type of LicenseRate Schedule (per year)
Blanket Concert/Recital (based on seating capacity)- 0 to 2,500: 0.80% of gross ticket sales
- 2,501 to 5,000: 0.40% of gross ticket sales
- 5,001 to 10,000: 0.25% of gross ticket sales
- 10,001 to 25,000: 0.20% of gross ticket sales
- 25,001+: 0.10% of gross ticket sales
Bowling Alley$29.10 per lane ($338 minimum fee)
College$0.35 per full time student ($286 minimum fee)
Conventions (based on attendees and per event, not year)- Less than 1,500: $125
- 1,501 to 3,000: $439
- 3,001 to 5,000: $732
- 5,001 to 10,000: $1,359
- 10,001 to 20,000: $2,507
- 20,001 to 50,000: $5,016
- 50,001 to 100,000: $7,524
- More than 100,000: $9,929
Dance School (based on students per week and depends on dance instruction)- Less than 75: $68.51 to $137.01
- 76 to 150: $137.01 to $274
- 151 to 300: $205.50 to $411.02
- 301+: $274 to $548.01
Endurance Events (based on attendees and per event, not year)- Under 1,000: $80
- 1,001 to 2,500: $138
- 2,501 to 5,000: $207
- 5,001 to 10,000: $294
- 10,001 to 20,000: $412
- 20,001 to 30,000: $481
- More than 30,000: $614
Ice Skating Rink (based on square footage and depends on admission price)- Up to 10,000: $412 to $1,632
- 10,000 to 20,000: $563 to $2,442
- 20,000+: $762 to $3,288
Indoor playground (depends on square footage and admission price)- Less than 7,500: $415 to $748
- 7,500 to 15,000: $582 to $997
- 15,000+: $829 to $1,249
Private Clubs (based on annual expenditure)- Less than $5,000.00: $154
- $5,000.00 to $9,999.99: $231
- $10,000.00 to $14,999.99: $303
- $15,000.00 to $24,999.99: $457
- $25,000.00 to $34,999.99: $605
- $35,000.00 to $49,999.99: $754
- $50,000.00 to $64,999.99: $902
- $65,000.00 to $79,999.99: $1,139
- $80,000.00 to $99,999.99: $1,518
- $100,000.00 to $119,999.99: $1,898
- $120,000.00 to $139,999.99: $2,277
- $140,000.00 to $159,999.99: $2,657
- $160,000.00 to $179,999.99: $3,036
- $180,000.00 to $199,999.99: $3,416
- $200,000.00 to $249,999.99: $3,795
- $250,000.00 to $299,999.99: $4,180
- $300,000.00 and over: $4,554
Restaurant, Bar, Nightclubs (per occupant)- $4.99 to $5.98 for live music (depends on frequency per week)
- $2.31 to $3.49 for recorded music
* Add $2.01 per occupant if cover charge. Other fees may apply based on the formula. See here:
Retail- $241 for up to three speakers for audio only ($49.50 for each additional and maximum license is $2,018.50)
* Bulk discounts apply for chains with more than 200 locations
Roller Skating Rinks (depends on square footage and admission price)- 1 to 10,000 square feet: $242 to $1,926 (higher the price, the higher the fee)
- 10,001 to 15,000 square feet: $362 to $2,887
- 15,000+ square feet: $453 to $3,544
RV Park/Campground (based on number of campsites)- 1 to 99: $271.50
- 100 to 149: $383
- 150 to 249: $512
- 250 to 349 $ 664.50
- 350 and over $828.50
Shopping center (charged daily)- up to 299,999 square feet: $44
- 300,000 to 899,999 square feet: $60
- 900,000+: $73.50
Yoga- $69.50 per premise

NOTE:  These quotes were obtained by the official ASCAP website and are accurate as of 2017.  These rates are subject to change, and depending on the venue, additional fees may apply based on the formulas.  ONLY use this as a ballpark estimate.

ASCAP, according to, has its own pricing model.  You will take the occupancy and multiply it by $3.33 to come up with your annual number; however, according to the ASCAP, they have an annual minimum fee of $356.  For example, if your restaurant could hold 300 patrons, then your annual bill would be $999, but do keep in mind that other factors do apply, but for the most part, this should offer an ideal annual fee you could be paying if you were to buy a license.

A coffee shop, according to this Digital Music News article, stated they had to pay $600 a year to play live music.

According to the official ASCAP website, the cost of obtaining an ASCAP license to perform music depends on the type of business you are running.  Generally, the rates are based on how the music is played, such as live, recorded, audio only, or audio/visual.  The size of the establishment or potential audience for the music, the time that the music is played, and whether or not the admission is being paid, may also affect the price.

ASCAP overview

When you want to receive a quote from ASCAP, they will ask for information such as your total occupancy and how you’re going to feature the music.  This can include using live bands, featuring a DJ, playing streaming music, playing AM/FM radio, broadcasting television shows, using a non-digital jukebox and/or charging a cover charge.  All of these factors can greatly affect the estimate mentioned above. Similar to a tax form, you will be asked to input the information and use basic math formulas to come up with your one-time, daily or annual cost.

What are the extra costs?

Not all songs are licensed by the ASCAP, and aside from the ASCAP, other licenses may be needed through the BMI and SEASAC, depending on which music you plan on playing.  According to the Phoenix New Times, 97 percent of all music played in the United States is licensed by the BMI and ASCAP.  For the most part, take the number you came up with above and multiply it by two or three if you were to sign up with all three companies.

Tips to know

Failing to purchase a license can lead to potential lawsuits.   All organizations will often send out representatives undisclosed with recorders, and if your venue is not registered with a license, lawsuits can potentially follow.

Pandora, Spotify and SiriusXM, unless it’s a commercial account, can’t be played inside a commercial venue as it’s only licensed for personal use.

Federal copyright law, Section 110 (5)(B), exempts restaurants that play music transmitted via radio, TV and cable and satellite sources if they don’t charge to hear the music.  However, live bands, CDs and music played by other means won’t be covered by the exemption.  This exemption only applies to establishments smaller than 3,750 gross square feet.

To see if a performer is licensed by ASCAP, refer to this official search engine.

 How can I save money?

Consider bypassing the licensing and signing up for a service that allows you to play background music legally., the company we sourced above, for example, offers monthly plans for as little as $35 per month.  100 percent legal, the service is fully licensed with all ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, GMR and SoundExchange license fees and no contract is required.  If you want to play music legally and don’t want to worry about signing up with these licensing companies, then these premium services may be worth looking into.

Instead of playing copyrighted music, you can avoid these licensing fees by playing copyright-free music, playing original music from local musicians or even classical music before 1922.  Nolo also recommends playing the radio if your store is less than 2,000 square feet; however, you will need to use fewer than six speakers in a room to be exempt from the fees.

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