You could risk a fine or the
you work could be closed down if you
use unlicensed backing tracks
Most backing tracks
you see which can be downloaded free from the internet infringe
copyright (despite many websites claiming that the backing track
is "royalty free" or "in the public domain").
These types of backing tracks should be avoided unless you want
to risk a costly prosecution by the Mechanical
Copyright Protection Society.
If you are a professional entertainer, the venue where you use
illegal backing tracks could have their music licence revoked
too. So, in a nutshell, it's just not worth it! There are plenty
of properly licensed backing track companies on the internet (including
us) who will supply legitimate royalty paid backing tracks, and
their not expensive, especially considering what you can earn
as a singer in just one night singing with these backing tracks.
In all cases, you
should check with the backing track company before purchasing
if you have a particular use in mind for your backing track and
are unsure if the licence will cover it. The PRS
and MCPS alliance in the UK has a wealth of good information
regarding all areas of copyright licence and is well worth a look.
Always be aware when you are buying backing tracks that you are
purchasing the right to use the track and not the backing track
itself which always remains the property of the company who produced
it. Companies retain the right to remove permission of use of
their track or tracks by you if they feel you have abused their
Terms and Conditions of use.
Similarly, when recording a demo using a backing track, check
with the backing track supplier first to ask if the track is licensed
for demo use purposes. It is illegal for the recording company
who produced your demo to keep the original backing track that
was used on the record and if they require that particular song
for their own catalogue of backing tracks (which many studios
have now) they are required to purchase a license from the producer
of the track and the publishing company.
Licenses to use backing
tracks as an accompaniment to live performance is granted to the
named licensee ONLY. Third party use is strictly forbidden. In
the event of a name change the licensee must advise the company
from which they purchased the track and request that an amended
license is granted and until such amended licenses are granted,
use of the backing tracks is forbidden. A license for minors may
be obtained by a specific third party and third party will be
responsible for proper use of the license by the minor. Always
read the suppliers Terms & Conditions.
Using backing tracks in public places
Every public place, whether it be a pub, a club, a theatre, a
shop, even an elevator(!), MUST have a licence to play
music...and it doesn't matter whether that music is 'live music'
(ie a person is singing) or 'canned music' (ie pre-recorded).
So not only do you need to make sure you are using backing tracks
which are properly licenced, the venue where you are singing (even
if it's only for one night or one performance) MUST have a licence
to play music. If not, then YOU run the risk of prosecution as
well as the venue, because you are breaking the law by performing
music in an unlicenced venue.
If you find yourself booked to play in an new venue or an unfamiliar
venue, ask to speak to the owner or manager before you begin your
performance and ask him/her if the venue has a current performing
If they don't know what you're talking about...beware!
Why backing track
The price of backing tracks varies from company to company but,
generally, they all consist of a combined cost of producing the
track plus the license to perform it. Be aware that more expensive
backing tracks do not give any indication to the quality of the
track (yes, I know, you'd expect more expensive tracks to be better
quality but this isn't the case).
For example, a large backing track company like us can produce
a top quality track using the very best of equipment and musicians,
yet still sell it for only a few pounds. This is because our cutomer
base is so large that we will sell that track a hundreds times
or a thousand times over and recoup the expense of producing it
in a short space of time.
Conversely, smaller backing track websites don't have these large
economies of scale so tend to have more expensive prices, and
often inferior backing tracks. Smaller studios usually don't have
the resources to buy high quality sound equipment for producing
their backing tracks so you could end up paying more money for
Shop around - always ask for a sample of a backing track before
buying it. If the company can't or won't give you a sample, don't
buy from them!
Article Written by Kenny Campbell
(This article cannot be reproduced without express
(all rights reserved)