There are many reasons to celebrate the new year. One of them is that you don't have to listen to White Christmas or Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire for another 9 months. Don't get me wrong: I love Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, great singers both, but wall to wall repetition of those songs in the run up to Christmas tends to cloy.
But these songs and others (Last Christmas took on particular poignancy this time round of course) are an essential part of the selling process in both the retail and hospitality sectors: the sentiments conveyed through the sparkling melodies, harmony and lyrics engender a conditioned reflex towards giving and shared enjoyment.
Businesses of all kind need background music and the better ones know why. Research has shown that the right music is an essential component of the selling mix whether in a retail, hospitality or service environment. The range of use is wide: we all know about chill out sounds in the coolest new bars but many of us also expect to be soothed in the dentist's chair by gentle, distant sounds. There is no limit to this use of music.
Good music though comes at a price: the creators and distributors have to be paid. They use a mechanism called copyright, a system embodied in national law which grants them certain rights to control how music is used. Play a piece of music without permission of the creator and you commit an act of infringement which has legal consequences: police raids, court appearances, fines and damages are common occurrences in Thailand. The impact on a business can be devastating: I'm damn sure I don't want to have my high-priced dining experience interrupted by a bunch of police officers and copyright lawyers.
So how to prevent this? Get a licence to use the music. There is a network of licensing agencies across Asia which can grant the necessary permissions but you have to know who they are and what to ask for: did you know for example that you may need 2 different licences for the same piece of music, one licence for the recording itself and one for the piece of music recorded? And how do you know if the music you are using is represented by one of these agencies: there is no simple way of doing this.
The best way to deal with this is to hand the problem off to a professional intermediary. A good background music supplier puts together music programmes for its customers which are fully licensed up front: the customer doesn't need to do anything further. Music problem solved; copyright problem solved.
And just in case you thought that simply turning on YouTube or Spotify in your store or restaurant solves the problem (because these are big, established players) think again. These services are for private use, not for playing in public and if you use them that way the same infringement possibility threatens.
Chris Andrews is the COO of BMAsia the leading background music provider to hotels serviced apartments shopping malls and retail chains Pan Asia. Initially working as a team leader until promoted to deputy superintendent in childcare with maladjusted and mentally handicapped children until burn out when he switched to entertainment industry setting up an arts centre and music venue during the 1980's economic crisis in England. He spent ten enjoyable years working with the BBC. During this period hr also set up "In-House Advertising" and attracted several large clients including Tetley who had over 300 bars and restaurants in the North of England, marketed the Sheffield Marathon and worked with the Red Cross on fund raising. He sold, closed and gave away all his interests to travel the world ending up in Thailand around 1988.