I felt it was time I spoke up and wrote about using streaming services to play at live events like weddings. I’ll only touch on the legal issues of this, but please read to the end for the main message here. First and most important, is to note that streaming at live events for the unlicensed consumer violates the very Terms Of Service clearly laid out for almost all services’ accounts. But, here’s where it gets a little muddied. If you are playing back ( ie: broadcasting ) at a private residence where you are listening to your chosen music and others ‘happen’ to hear it, apparently you may not be in violation of its use. This is great for a private residence, but if you’re at a public venue of any kind ( even a park ), then it is a direct violation of any streaming services’ agreement, when you signed up for their service. Add to this, that every physical venue is itself responsible to SOCAN ( Canada ) for paying their fees annually, in order for this music you have brought in, to be broadcast publicly.
Now not to debate the legality of this ad nauseum, but I’m guessing those people looking to use only a streaming account for their important special event, really don’t care if they violate these Terms or not. After all, would they really be caught doing so? If you’re in a public venue, then yes it’s possible – and the fine to the venue ( if they haven’t paid their fees to SOCAN ) would be very severe. But if you’re at your own private residence, then it’s borderline consumer listening.
For those rightfully concerned about broadcast streaming their favorite music in public though, there is a legal way for you to do so on a single by-event basis. You can apply for a single event license from Connect Music Licensing. You'll need to apply at least two weeks before your event takes place. However, if you have a larger crowd / venue and you’re doing a typical wedding day with all the bells and whistles, then you need a much better option than streaming – whether or not you are at a private residence or a public venue.
Of course, I recommend you hire a professional Wedding DJ to help manage your day. Here’s why . . .
A specialized wedding DJ service like Medallion Sound can do so much more for couples today than simply play music. Being established usually means they’re connected. They can help you with recommendations for wedding planners, photographers, videographers, caterers, venues ( halls ) and even decorating ideas. Pre-planning in some form is usually a given, and will set the tone for what you can expect from whatever service you choose. Acting as Master of Ceremonies ( M.C. ), they can also skilfully manage the flow of each item on your carefully planned itinerary, for the duration of your wedding day.
Though streaming may sound like an attractive option because of the price – you will get what you pay for. This option means you will need someone to provide the setup and take-down of (rental?) equipment and someone to manage the music behind the scenes while your ceremony and reception take place. This will obviously take someone away from the rest of your group ( who are now seeing your day from a different perspective ). You could get lucky and it might be fine, but . . . if something goes wrong with the setup, will this person have the know how to fix it quickly? If you are WiFi dependant and WiFi goes down for any reason, or more likely the software being used freezes or messes up – that’s the end of your musical entertainment. Now one of your guests is playing tunes out of the trunk of their car or off their phone to fill in. . . Wow!
Couple’s who hire professional vendors do so because they want the benefit of that experience; a valued higher end product and overall - a better end result. Couples at their own wedding should be treated the same as their guests – honoured, appreciated and stress-free. You should not be worrying about the timing of events, or what music will be played – when or if - it’s acceptable for the rest of your guests. During the pre-planning, yes you are choosing your music ( like you would on a streaming account ), but the ambience of your room, the atmosphere and your audience will be very different. The margin for error is much lower and if something goes awry, it should be a professional that handles it without you or your audience knowing anything different. Experience is critical and a professional wedding DJ will have the ability to adjust quickly and ‘grab’ the room if they have to.
Downloaded preset playlists can’t anticipate the flow of an evening with several dozen people in attendance. You’ll need someone to keep things on schedule, mix songs, gauge the audience and M.C. all of it!
Streaming services are not the evil harbinger’s of DJ / musician entertainment death that some think they could be. They are a cheap alternative for some people where hiring a high-end professional is out of their budget. And arguably depending on the number of people or type of event, a paid DJ / musician may not be necessary. (To compare, decades ago musicians once thought that DJ's were the death of live bands at events, too.) But streaming services are currently embroiled in legal battles behind the scenes with many government and recording label bodies ( including here in Canada ). It is simply better to go with a professional where all the legal licensing has been ironed out, and the experience to M.C., play / mix what you want and react if needed, will already be in place.
So finally, your wedding day has arrived. You have a decent-sized guest list coming to help you celebrate. You have spent several pay cheques and laid out a look and feel for your day that you want fondly remembered. But your music? It can literally make or break your event. Don’t take chances with a playlist that may or may not work. Your guests – will remember it!
My advice is to book early with your chosen DJ firm. This gives you so much opportunity to discuss any and all concerns you may have in advance, you will surely get the day you’ve been dreaming of. You should never take a chance by cutting corners on your primary entertainment. If you do have a concern about cost, most all professional DJ services ( like us ) will have a payment plan in place, and several options of how you can make your payments in a timely fashion that works for you.
I encourage you to reach out to us any time to discuss your upcoming event. Have a fantastic week! :)
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