Social Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Youtube

'Why do I have to pay to play music?'



‘Why do I have to pay to play music?’ ‘What does Sena do with the money I pay for my licence?’ ‘Why do I have to pay both Buma and Sena?’ We regularly field questions from all kinds of music users: hospitality industry entrepreneurs, retailers, financial services firms and health care providers. This series of articles answers a number of frequently asked questions. This time, we focus on why music users have to pay to play music.

Sena has been commissioned by the government to manage the rights of more than 30,000 performers, session musicians and producers in accordance with the Neighbouring Rights Act. This Act states that music makers have a right to an ‘equitable remuneration’ whenever their music is played in public.

Music in shops, offices, the media and the hospitality industry
Music is played in public whenever it is played outside the home, such as in shops, offices, hotels, restaurants, on the radio or on television. For music played at home (e.g. from a CD), the costs of use were paid when the music was purchased.

In this particular context, the term ‘public’ is defined as guests, customers or more than two employees listening to music together. For music played in public, Sena collects a payment on behalf of the music’s performers and producers in the form of a licence.

Music on the radio
This means that businesses also need a licence to use a radio at work. Radio stations already have a licence, but this is strictly limited to their own music use. If a radio is playing at a business, it means the music is disseminated further. This is considered a separate and new instance of playing music in public and therefore subject to payment.

In which cases do you not need a licence?
There are some exceptions. For instance, businesses that do not receive guests or clients are exempt from acquiring a licence, provided they employ fewer than three people full-time. This also applies to one-person businesses (e.g. a webshop) operated from the home and self-employed persons listening to music at home. Visit for a comprehensive explanation of the rules that apply in specific situations.

Music played using streaming services
Music can be played in public in a variety of ways: using a radio, CD player, a sound system or the internet. If you want to stream music over the internet, you should use a narrowcasting application. There are various types of narrowcasting, such as hard drives and satellite, but also streaming services. It is worth noting that businesses are never permitted to play music using streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer, since these streaming services are intended for private use only, not for business use. Although this may change in the future, their use is currently not allowed under the law.

The value of music
Music has a positive effect on people, from customers to employees, so it is likely to also have a positive effect on business results. Visit to read more about the value of music for businesses.

‘What does Sena do with the money I pay for my licence?’ Find out here!