Streaming Music is Illegal at Paid Events? Wait, what?

Streaming music…

What if the music your DJ is playing starts to buffer during your first dance? I’ve personally seen it happen to a DJ recently.

This is a serious possibility at your wedding or event where the DJ is streaming music, which is ILLEGAL to the tune (no pun intended) of a $250,000.00 fine and or up to 5 years in jail. For streaming music? Yep!

Those of you who know me or have hired me, know that I would do nearly anything to make my clients happy. This is the Wedding Couple’s big day and I will bend over backward to make their wedding and reception awesome. Superb musical entertainment is my specialty. It’s what I do; what I pride myself on providing to each and every client. I will play the music that you want to be played; however, I cannot break the law to satisfy whims.
Go ahead and gasp. After all, who would ask me to do such a thing, right? No client would ever do that. If you asked any couple getting married, they would swear the same thing. So what am I even talking about?
In this day and age, media is easier than EVER to get ahold of, especially illegally. Well, my point is this, truthfully, I am asked to break the law at receptions on a regular basis. Now, mind you, my clients are awesome, and most of them do not understand the intricacies of the law when it comes to “pirating” and “ripping” music at paid entertainment events. That is the point of this blog. To educate a little and to remind couples of the laws pertaining to music at venues.


DJ, music, wedding, Virginia beach dj, streaming music

I get requests all the time, by various members of the wedding party or guests, to play Youtube videos. I’ve also had brides ask me to play certain songs and send me the Youtube link. I even have guests or clients ask me to plug in their cell phone to play a video over my DJ system. I can’t play Youtube and for that, I am truly sorry. At least legally. Look, you have hired me to play at your reception. This makes your reception a paid event. DJ’s are paid to serve you, there in comes the law. Did you know that Youtube videos are tracked? They are! Google Analytics uses LunaMetrics to track Youtube script to see which videos have been copied, cloned, forked, or borrowed more than once. IP addresses are recorded and traced to fish out illegal activity. Did you know that you have to go through a purchasing process before you play a Youtube video at a paid event? You do! Without proof of that, I cannot play those videos. Even if you have the purchasing proof, I highly recommend that you leave the Youtube video on your phone where it belongs and not play it at your reception. Why? Because the quality is horrible due to the lower bitrate. Also, commercials are spliced in and the sound is known to drop out in areas. That all just translates to a tacky presentation at your reception.

DJ, music, wedding, Virginia beach dj, streaming music

Please do not bring me a CD or another form of hard copy music that has been illegally “ripped” from another online source, and ask me to play it at the reception. First, I don’t even use CD players any longer as everything is now digital and I don’t see it going back anytime soon. If your music is copied off of a private source and not paid for, it is called “ripping” or “pirating” and is regarded as copyright infringement. Even if you copy it from a CD or digital source you own and give it to me, that’s called redistribution. In the U.S., our copyright law says that making a copy of an original song without consent from the copyright owner is illegal. If you choose to do that for your own personal use, then that is up to you alone, however, a reception is a paid venue and I can get into a lot of trouble with the law if I play ripped songs. Copywriters are getting more serious about this and cracking down on this harder than ever before.
DJ, music, wedding, Virginia beach dj, streaming music

I went to a wedding vendor event (this is where the wedding industry gets together and hangs out because we’re usually busy on the weekends lol) recently and watched the paid DJ streaming music the whole event on an iPad using Spotify. Many DJ’s get wrapped up into streaming music via Spotify for a music source. This is illegal at a paid event and states so in Spotify’s own Terms and Conditions of use under section four of their terms. To simplify the legal terms, it stated that the Spotify Service and content are the property of Spotify or Spotify’s licensors. They grant you limited, non-exclusive, revocable licensing to make personal, non-commercial, entertainment use of the content. You have to agree that you are using the content for your own personal, non-commercial use. But isn’t using the music for your wedding a personal use? Nope. Not if you are paying for entertainment.

DJ, music, wedding, Virginia beach dj, streaming music

Some DJ’s are streaming music using Pandora at paid events. Even if you do subscribe and are under their premium service, this goes for any paid media service i.e. Spotify, Google Music, Amazon Prime still cannot play streaming music for their wedding guests at a paid event. It says so in their Terms and Conditions, in section 6.

Illegally streaming music is not only breaking the law; it is also just really bad manners. To play music at a paid event legally, you have to be under a copyright law. You need to have a license to publicly perform music. I am a professional DJ with that license and I don’t use the above illegal practices. I purchase everything that I have and use. I pay for those music rights. If I don’t, then I can be put under a heavy fine by the court system.

As an example of what I am talking about, recently in a federal appeals court, the California bar had to pay out $200,000 for playing only eight songs without copyrighted permission. Yikes! Moreover, I have a friend in my industry, in my market who paid a fine of over $20,000.00 he didn’t have because he used a song without permission. He didn’t know it was illegal, but they didn’t care. To add insult to injury, not only can I be fined but I could also be subjected to up to five years in jail, all over illegal streaming or piracy. No, thank you! Let’s keep it legal, shall we? We all want your wedding to be a day and night to remember. Let’s not have to remember it because of an arrest made at the reception due to illegal activity! Let’s just not go there. Instead, let’s celebrate your love the right way and face a future bright with promised legalized freedom!

Posted on December 13, 2016 in Destination Weddings, Entertainement, Fun, Hampton Roads Wedding, Line Dance, Places, Professional Wedding DJs, Sandbridge Wedding, Uncategorized, Virginia Beach Wedding, Wedding Ceremony, Wedding Day, Wedding DJ, Wedding Entertainment, Wedding Reception

Share the Story

About the Author

I started to DJ weddings about 15 years ago. After my first two years, I decided to open my own DJ company. So here I am now, Hey DJ with 13 years of business ownership behind my name. I love every day of it! Virginia Beach's Premier Wedding DJ Service with a TWIST of Awesome!

Responses (4)

  1. Name (required)BOB SMITH
    November 16, 2017 at 10:38 PM · Reply

    You do realize that the FCC would never ever show up at a private event. Wedding included. I am not condoning the use of any illegal tracks, just stating the obvious.

    It is true that any streaming music would be at a lower bitrate and that is unacceptable for any event. However, some sites like Spotify will allow you to download the track with a paid membership which will prevent “Buffering”.

    Keep it legal!

    • Hey DJ Bobby
      November 26, 2017 at 2:44 PM · Reply

      You can never be sure if or where the FCC would show up. Just stating the obvious. At the end of it all, it is still illegal (whether or not the FCC shows up) to stream media content to gain monetary value. I’m not going to restate the points in the blog, but I do thank you for reading and for your response.

  2. Dj Tim
    June 2, 2019 at 8:20 PM · Reply

    Great article and true, same in the UK same laws. So many DJ’s just aren’t aware of the implications and I know several that think they compliant because they do subscribe to the premium services of Spotify and Tidal.
    I’m fortunate that started years ago so built up my collection but even then the original music was cd and when moved to laptop I had to buy a PRS License to convert my cd collection to mp3 even though I had paid the original higher price to start with using the correct Dj official cds !! Yet I’m competing against guys who haven’t a legal tune in their collection ! At least I can do my gigs without the worry of being raided it’s just not worth the risk

    • Hey DJ Bobby
      July 9, 2019 at 11:37 AM · Reply

      Yeah or DJ your gigs knowing that you won’t have internet issues or choppy sounding songs. Nothing worse than hearing a song that sounds like it is coming out of a tin can.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top