Anyone who uses music in a public for profit venue pays, from an aerobic class, to a restaurant, to a radio station, to your local hair dresser (a non profit educational venue is exempt I believe). But you do not pay per song, you pay a blanket fee to ASCAP or BMI. And in a health club typically the facility pays the fee rather than each individual instructor. I think the system may be slightly different outside of the US. The fees are typically paid by facility…. and background music will have a different fee than performance music (e.g. locker room music, and music for the class). When you purchase a premixed tape even one made specifically for teaching the same thing holds.
You may be interested in this from the Power Music Web site:
ASCAP, BMI and Public Performance of Music
All businesses, such as radio stations, restaurants, retail stores, spas and concert venues, that publicly perform music are required by law to obtain a Public Performance License from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC in the US and SOCAN in Canada for those performances. With a few exceptions, health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios are also required to get Public Performance Licenses as well. These licenses are normally granted for one year and the fees for fitness businesses are based on a formula that evaluates the size of the venue, the type of activities in your facility and the number of members.
When you purchase a digital download or CD, you have the right to use that music for your own personal use in a non-commercial environment. As a record label, Power Music has obtained the necessary licenses to reproduce the compositions for such use. However, once that music is used in a group fitness class, you as the owner of a club, gym or studio are required to purchase the Public Performance License. Even if you have hired the instructors as independent contractors and they bring in music for their classes, it is the club owner’s responsibility to obtain the license. In some cases, an independent contractor who might teach a class in an unlicensed church, firehouse our gymnasium would be responsible for securing this license as well.
You may wonder why such a license is necessary. The reasoning behind the license is that your classes and business benefit from the performance of the music and thus, the composer and his or her publisher should be benefit as well. The fees collected by the ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SOCAN are distributed to the composers and publishers who control the musical compositions.
A license issued by one of the 3 U.S. performance societies covers all compositions within a particular society’s repertoire of songs. In the US, a Public Performance License from only 1 of the 3 societies does not cover every song found on a Power Music CD or download. To legally publicly perform any music you need to secure licenses with all 3 societies. Most of the titles we release contain compositions that are either ASCAP or BMI represented compositions.
For further information you may contact:
ASCAP: 1-800-505-4052 or ascap.com
BMI: 1-888-689-5264 or bmi.com
SESAC: 1-800-826-9996 or sesac.com
In Canada, contact:
SOCAN: 1-800-557 6226 or socan.com
As I recall this is addressed in the ACE group ex study manual, though I cannot put my hand on my copy this moment.
Hope this helps,