Informational Brochures (Tri-Fold)

Who is responsible for the music for an Event?   Music Performance Licensing Guidlines   Music Performance License FAQs

What do you need to know about music performance licensing?

First, as a ROUNDALAB Member who resides in the United States, your licensing fees are to cover your performance of any ASCAP, BMI or SESAC controlled music. However, you are only covered if you are performing while in the act of working at Round or Square Dance events (classes, workshops, dances etc.) as well as the other activities under the Square/Round Dance umbrella (Contra, Clogging etc.).  “Performing” is the act of either putting the needle on the record or pressing ‘Play’ on your computer, or any other device (i.e. Tape Recorder, CD/DVD, iPod, smart phone etc.) which causes the sound of the music to be broadcast in a public venue. 

All ROUNDALAB members who live in the United states pay these licensing fees. They are required to purchase the performance licensing as part of our contracts with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. However, if you are non-US Members and you work in the United States, other than the National Square Dance (NSDC) and ROUNDALAB Conventions, you should make sure the event(s) you are working at have procured event licensing from the three companies or purchase your own licensing from ROUNDALAB.  You can purchase licensing from CALLERLAB or ACA, but as of now they do not have SESAC coverage.  If you do not purchase a SESAC license you will need to check the SESAC webpages to make sure you are not using material which falls under their copyright ownership.

The ROUNDALAB Board of Directors has approved the release of three new tri-fold brochures related to music licensing.  They are: ‘Who is responsible for the music performance Licensing for an ‘event’?’, ‘Music Performance License Guidelines 2018’, ‘Music Performance License FAQs’.  These documents were presented to the United Square Dancers of America (USDA) at their annual meeting prior to the National Square Dance Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. These were well received and were a good introduction prior to the educational seminar which ROUNDALAB and CALLERLAB put on Friday at the NSDC where there were many questions.  The tri-fold brochures were put out on the ROUNDALAB display tables at the National, ROUNDALAB and ICDBA Conventions. These Brochures are available on the ROUNDALAB website Home Page from a dropdown button under the ‘General Information’ tab.  ROUNDALAB Members and others can read, download, print and make these brochures available to fellow cuers, clubs and associations for their education.

Ever since we originally got our ASCAP and BMI Performance Licensing in 1991 we have been told if the caller was licensed the cuer did not have to be licensed.  Unfortunately, there is nowhere in ROUNDALAB’s contracts where this is stated.   While we were working with SESAC we were told “if you are performing then you need to be licensed”.  The type of Licensing groups like ROUNDALAB, CALLERLAB, ACA, Jazzercise etc. have is not historically the way ASCAP, BMI and SESAC have done their licensing.  Normally, the sponsors of the event or the premises itself obtains the license for coverage. The contracts talk about your performance licensing covering the premises you are working in. This means if someone is playing music without a license the premises are not covered during the performance by the non-licensed performer and the premises is legally exposed.  Which means the sponsors and the premise could be liable along with the person performing without a license.  We have been told the lawsuits are in the range of $120,000 per song performed without licensing. 

The ROUNDALAB office has been getting calls from many clubs and associations as well as callers and cuers regarding licensing. Some are informing us Representatives from the Licensing organizations have contacted or visited various dance halls and in one case even shut down a dance because of a licensing issue.  In a conversation with a caller who let his organizational membership lapse, he stated he received a letter from one of the Licensing agencies.  This letter stated they had noticed he was no longer a member of his licensing organization, but they had found advertising showing he was still calling.  The licensing agency was sure it was an oversite, but if he didn’t want to rejoin the licensing organization he could pay a specific amount of money directly to the agency.  This amount was significantly higher than the cost through his organization. He rejoined his licensing organization immediately.

This is not meant to scare you, but to understand why, as professionals, we must do things legally and be licensed to perform the music we legally own.

The brochures are in the Adobe Acrobat PDF format. 
You will need the free Acrobat Reader software in order to view and print them.


For comments and suggestions concerning this Web Page, contact:
Roundalab Office or the Licensing and Insurance Committee Chairperson.