Gallery Music System?

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
Founding Member
Nov 5, 1997
Suburban Central Ohio
For the past four years we have subscribed to a satellite music system. It never worked very well; a cloudy day would often foul the signal.

The local contract provider changed to XM and a new satellite in November, which resulted in a big improvement in signal quality, but their handling of the changeover was so poor that I decided to give them the boot.

The contract is up, the system is gone, and we're playing CDs now. We have a 6-CD changer, which requires two starts a day, and music from the same 100 or so CDs over and over again gets tiresome.

We enjoyed the turn-it-on-and-forget-it feature of the satellite system when it worked. $30 a month seemed fair, but I have not taken the time to compare costs for other alternatives.

Any suggestions?

And here's a side issue: I have heard that ASCAP or some other group will sue a business for royalties if their music can be heard by customers. Of course, music provided by a contractor would come with the royalties paid. Has anyone who plays royalty-unpaid music had experience with this threat?
This is a little different but we used one artist's music for a show we used to do in Cody Wy. We were told of the possible problems from using the music so we contacted him. He was fine with it and we gave Ian a plug each show and it worked out well. If you are running theme music you might contact the musicians as it could be a mutually benificial deal. Sell thier CDs also
I haven't but my friend who owns a restaurant has been threatened. He went with XM. I still wouldn't worry about it in a gallery although it is "illegal".

I have actually heard about the Musak guys being the whistle blowers in many cases. They go into a business they know is playing CDs. Then they offer to sell you their service. If you decline they turn you in. I don’t know if that’s a rumor or reality. In the case of my friend, XM did get a new customer that they wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the threatening letter.

Your CD player should have a repeat. When I play mine it select "random" then "repeat". It plays all day long. If I forget to turn it off at night, it still plays on.
I used a changer that held and played 100 CDs. The selection STILL got repetitious (to me, not the customers) but it helped to have the cuts played in random sequence so it didn't become so predictable.

Today, I would look for a changer that would play MP3 CDs. You could conceivably store and play 1000 hours of music, though it would be a major challenge for me to locate 1000 hours of music that would be suitable for a retail setting.

Then there's the potential for getting busted for two separate offenses . . .
I pipe my music from the Internet.

I have the choice from hundreds of stations (from classical to Jazz, easy stuff, rock, country, blues, 80s, 90s, you name it, it is there). And the quality is great.

ITunes (free) from Apple (works with PCs as well, you don't need a Mac) and it is free and gives you access to all those stations listed above.

Did I mention it is free?? The music too, and no royalties. One station I listen to, has absolutely no commercials and they play a great variety of music.

Don't let the name fool you, they play everything except hard rock and RAP:

It will also work without ITunes: Just click on "Listen" and you're up and running. A pair of good PC speakers will, of course, help a lot. But you can get those for around $50-60 these days, assuming you don't have them already.

I will never go back to radio and their frequent yakking or royalty-scams. Or to changing CDs every few hours.

PS: You can also import your own CDs into ITunes, create playlists / library, etc, set it to Shuffle and listen to your own music too. It sure beats any CD changer.

Anybody needs help with the above, you know where to find me.
We are pretty fortunate here. I have satellite at home, but went with cable tv in the shop. Not for the tv channels really (40 basic channels) but for the music. I have a choice of 20 different kinds, all commercial free, for $32 a month. I just wired both speakers in the gallery into the stereo inputs of the tv in the work area. Works great. I still use the cd changer once in a while when I'm in the mood for a particular style of music.

I had a really enjoyable time with my gallery music when I was a Northsound dealer. They sold a bunch of nature oriented CD's in all the different styles with the exception of rap which I had no use for anyway. (Sorta like the CD's you browse through while waiting for a table at Cracker Barrel!)

I had demo CD's of every sound that they published for about 8 years that I was a dealer with them, literally hundreds of CD's in classical, jazz, popular, rock 'n roll, instrumentals, Native American sounds, World sounds from Ceylon, India, Malayasia, etc., Christmas music, I mean everything that had to do with music was in their inventory at one time or another. Most of them were instrumental so you weren't distracted by the words of a song while you were trying to deal with a customer and I kept the volume down so it was not an overpowering sound in the gallery.

They (Northsound) closed their operation right after the turn of the century but I still played all their CD's, 5 different each day, and had almost 2 month's worth of CD's without repeating a disc!

(Cool, I never used that term "after the turn of the century" before, has a really timeless ring to it, eh??) :cool:

Originally posted by Jay H:
...I have actually heard about the Musak guys being the whistle blowers in many cases. They go into a business they know is playing CDs...

When the technician came to remove the equipment from my store, he asked if I planned to continue playing CDs. Without thinking through my reply, I rather abruptly suggested he need not be concerned about that. So, I expect a visit from ASCAP any day now.
They turn you in for what????
I did not know playing a CD was illegal????
I must not be understanding something here!
We use "off the air" radio directly connected to speakers.

Agency: 151/American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers
Phone: (800) 505-4052
Agency Home Page Web Link:
Activity: Retail Store/Shop
Comments: Licenses the right to play music in the store.

The State of Idaho provides this info to all new businesses to consider... the technical requirement is "If it is 'off-the-air' broadcast, no ASCAP licensing required. Anything else, CD, Muzak, Satellite, etc... it's a business decision for what an owner is willing to do.... like defensible tax deductions. When questioned, sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.

What Jay H says has validity regarding the Muzak police. We have a state statute that says if they enter an establishment for policing purposes, they must immediately identify themselves as such.

All that said, employee work areas can be an exception for CDs and other audio.
I can’t imagine any problems with satellite radio and a “royalty” fee.

It would seem to me to be like those disclaimer/warnings you hear at the end of a Red Sox game i.e. “any rebroadcast … blah, blah, blah … is strictly prohibited”.

In these cases, they are trying to ban you from charging others for watching the game, sort of like a bar in which the TV is constantly running. The bar doesn’t have to pay the Red Sox as long as they don’t charge their customers specifically for the privilege of watching.

I may be wrong, but can anyone who has satellite radio quote from their contract?
Originally posted by trapper:
They turn you in for what????
I did not know playing a CD was illegal????
I must not be understanding something here!
My thought too, Trapper! Does this apply to instrumentals, vocalists, what? I'm not trying to sell their CD's out of my shop, or give away anything illegally downloaded or burned.

The thought just occurred to me that the music played at Michael's was all "approved" by whatever powers that be, that if we put on a different CD other than the approved ones during business hours, Michael's could be sued. We thought maybe there were subliminal messages in there ("Work harder! Harder!") and that was just their excuse so folks wouldn't walk into a store that might be blaring rap or something awful.

So I just got a little relief knowing that I may not be in danger of litigation from Beethoven or Mozart.

Or could I?? :eek:
Stupid huh? Beethoven probably doesn't want royalties but the orchestra that recorded your CD DOES! I wouldn't worry about it so much but from I have heard, yes you are in danger of litigation Val.
We're using Apple ITUNES as well, which has a library equivalent to about 45 CDs. The old cd changer was getting tired, and the cd's worn. We're doing this on the Wizard PC, which doesn't seem to mind. We ran an audio cable from the Wizard's sound card to the stereo receiver AUX IN, where the CD changer used to plug in. The result is that the music is digital quality and plays through the gallery ceiling speakers.

It has been running 24/7 for about 6 months now, other than periodic reboots and windows updates. The receiver is on a timer, the pc is always on.

One advantage is that there is no pause/delay/transition between songs, because it mixes them together smoothly.

One disadvantage is that we cant do anything on the Wizard PC that would have sound (online games, etc), because it gets broadcasted to the gallery/retail area of our shop. ha ha

The muzak police do exist, but usually the callers are meant to sound threatening from someone who wants to sell you a system. They'll get you for music on hold, too, or playing a public radio station in your store or phone system.

You can get comercially licensed music from any of the digital satellite companies, online through the internet, with a digital player device, or from your local cable company.

I have a Sirius satellite system at my shop. At the end of the day I can take it with me and play it in my car and home.
They have a package for businesses. You can check it out on their web site

I have had both XM and Sirius and like the programing MUCH better on Sirius.
I used to run a weekly festival during the summer for a local chapter of the Jaycees and dealt with ASCAP all of the time. Even your local tavern has to pay ASCAP fees for bands and/or the juke box. Yes they will come after you if they find out what is going on. They tend to be a good organization but lets remember what and who they represent.

They represent artists and make sure they get the money that they deserve. Many here would never misrepresent an artist who paints but would not think of denying a musical artist the royalties that they deserve. Mr Mr Kettle.

Some have mentioned Satellite Radio, all of the companies (XM, Sirrius) do offer a program for businesses and that is what you should be using.

All in all it comes down to ethics and values. Sure, I don't like having to pay for music, but it's the right thing to do. It doesn't matter if it is a starving visual artist or a multi- millionare musical artist, they deserve to get paid for their work.
This has got to be the strangest conversation I have ever heard. Music police..what a weird concept that is. Someone is definitely pulling our leg right??
Seems to me these idiots are hurting themselves.
Like I am going to go out and buy another cd for the car and one for the living room and I won't ever let any guest listen to it...No difference than me having to go out and buy another for work...weird! At work most of the time it is us who are listening from beginning to end anyhow.. I mean I love to see our customers come in but if they hang arounfd that long,,geesh!
I just don't get this..You gonna buy another print for the shop and then another for the backroom??, or are you ginna look at the one from both rooms or while you go from ine room to another. What I am hearing you all say is you can;t do this??or are there different rules for music and another for prints
I play my own music / CDs on my own PC, using my own speakers for my own enjoyment.

If a customer happens to hear what's being played, well that's collateral damage.

Tough for the ASCAP Gestapo...
Tim, I think you’re being a bit of a realist.

An artist should be paid when a second party makes a profit off their work. Certainly a radio station makes a profit off of the music and even the tavern’s revenue is increased with the play of good music.

However I think it’s a stretch to think that we owe any significant royalty over the CD royalties for a playing some background music in a frameshop. I know what you’re saying as far as it being the “law” but that doesn’t make it right. In some cases (including this one) it’s a great big pile of crap!

Well I say that assuming the royalties are over $2 or $3 dollars a month…. I would think that would be a fair reimbursement for an artist whose music is being played in some frameshop. Who knows maybe that is all ASSCAP would want. Who’s going to call and get a “price check?”
I have a 300 cd changer and I am very happy with it. We sometimes listen to one cd after the other and we sometimes listen to its random selections. I borrow cd's from the library for variety and I have friends who send me mix discs. I have yet to get bored with it (although I do have to rearrange the discs- it seems the machine gets itself into a rut, don't ask me why) and I have been using it for 3+ years.

The stereo and speakers are located in the workshops (I ran wires and installed speakers in the basement where my saw is...) though and not the public/showroom area of the shop. There is no music played in the showroom, but you can sometimes hear it very faintly there. If I were playing music in the showroom, I would use a service so as not to have to worry about doing something underhanded.

edie the steppingonnotoes goddess
Like the goddess, I have a 300 disc player. I got mine used on eBay for about $100 with shipping - like new in the box.

The newer ones play MP3 discs as well.

You can set up groups and assign each disc to a group, such as Holiday, Jazz, Elevator, etc. and play straight through or random within that group, or straight through or random on the whole system.
HOw would you compare a CD changer to having an Ipod w' a speaker system for the store?
When I worked at the big M they had a fine levied against them for piping in the radio. They did not want to comply with the fee needed to continue to play the radio or pay for a muzak service so they chose stone cold silence. All radios and sound systems were removed from all the stores. Including even having a radio to listen to in the frameshop, it didn't matter if it was not heard by the public. Wow, what a fun working environment that was. Nothing to muffle the sounds of crying children. Nothing to fill their heads with as they waited in tediously long lines to check out or place an order. Nothing to fill our minds with as we dealt with these unsoothed people. It was also the same time they decided to change the apron colors from nice calming green and blue to the angry color of<font size=7><font color=red>red</font size></font color>. The color that incites bulls to gore.....we were just sitting ducks waiting to be picked off by the guests. Not unlike a quail "hunt" attended by our illustrious second in command. All held captive helpless with no desire to fight our wings clipped and easy targets just sitting waiting to be picked off one by one by the <strike>drunk</strike>angry <strike>shooters</strike> shoppers.

That lasted for a year and then they reinstalled CD players with an approved set of CD's. Everybody had to sign something saying they would never play anything not approved, ever. It was like a breath of fresh air, I tell ya......Celine Dion and her ilk never sounded so good.....ahh yes, good times!
Jay, I can't quote you a price but I would imagine that it would be less than 100 a year from my past experiences.

I was in charge of a weekly concert series each Friday during the summer and had to pay according to what paid attendance was. If i remember correctly, with attendance of approx 50K, my yearly dues were around 500/yr.

I know that in a retail enironment, they can't charge by paid attendance but since it is background noise instead of a concert, it can't be much.

The simple, and right way to do it is to subscribe to a service that is designed for businesses and let them deal with the paperwork and ASCAP fees.
I find it rather amazing that so many here are ardent defenders of copywrite for 2D artwork yet seem to have no problem violating copywrite for musicians.

When you buy a song on CD or any other medium you're buying a limited license that specifically excludes public performance. Regardless of your attempts to rationalize, your store is clearly a public place so if you play without paying license fees you're violating copywrite law.

Frankly, I don't care if you choose to break the law and steal from the artists. People do it every day in a myriad of ways and it's really none of my affair. What bugs me though are the attempts at rationalization and propogating false and misleading information.

So if a customer comes into my shop while I am in my office listening to a cd for my pleasure, and the office door is opened and he over hears it..then what??
I disagree whole heartedly with the concept of leasing it...I bought it..paid good hard cash for it and it's mine and as such I will do what I want with it. Burn it..sell it at a garage sale..listen to it at the shop..bring it to the car and listen to it, with passengers and even play it at home with guests..Sorry's mine.Same with a picture...I am not going to buy another print to look at in the privacy of my own home and take it down every time a guest comes in..I can see situations where this might become sticky...but that depends on whether I paid for it..To me stealing is only whern you haven't paid for something. Got any idea how many times a customer has asked " whats that song playing " They like it and then go buy it! How come I don't get any money out of that deal? I sold the artist by letting them hear it. Yet I got no commission.
oops posted 2x..sorry about's a hot item for me, but not that hot..ha!
while I am at it however let me ask about the library..How come I can borrow a cd from there and listen to it in the company of others? We often will
go to the library and get music..cheaper that way.
I don't copy them cuz I never paid for it in the first place, but I sure do listen to them at home and at work..???
Originally posted by Steph:
HOw would you compare a CD changer to having an Ipod w' a speaker system for the store?
Well, I think you have to be under 30 to operate an Ipod, don't you?

Seriously, it's more a matter of personal preference. The biggest advantages I can think of to a changer are that you are getting full quality sound (uncompressed) and it may be easier to use for people that weren't raised on silicon. Also, and I'm not sure on this, but I think that with an Ipod you'd still have to use an amplifier to get comparable audio volume out of it. An obvious advantage to an Ipod is that you can take it with you, and it's going to be the same where ever you are, and the playlists are probably a lot more flexible.
Originally posted by Steph:
How would you compare a CD changer to having an Ipod w' a speaker system for the store?
  • The IPod is easier to walks away by itself!</font>
  • If you lose / misplace your IPod (see above), it will be a pain to get your music back.</font>
  • You'd need special contraptions (IPod holder / charger, with speakers perhaps) to play your music.</font>
Except when I am at the pool, my IPod sits in a drawer gathering expensive dust!

Playing it in a car? Major PIA...
Originally posted by Paul N:
Playing it in a car? Major PIA...
Plugs right in to my wife's Element.

For a couple hundred extra you can even use the built-in stereo controls...

I imagine pretty soon auxiliary audio inputs will become fairly standard fair.
Originally posted by Paul N:

Playing it in a car? Major PIA...
$40 Radio Shack. Little unit called an I-Rock. little fm transmitter that plugs into the headphone jack of any stereo device. I'm using it to stream music off the 'net and play it through the shops radios (I got 2 seperate stereos right now, 1 for upstairs and 1 for down).

Got it so I could play CDs in the car for the kids. Also can plug it into a walkman to play my tapes in the car because the car tape player is trashed.

When I finish my move to the "new" shop I'll use the IRock at home on the TV. Then when I walk TV at night I won't have to worry about strangling myself with the headphone cords!
I have noticed that XM for personal use costs about $13 per month, but for commercial use -- like in a store -- it's $29 per month. I guess Sirius is similarly priced.

Our previous deal included a satellite reciver on the roof. To those of you who use satellite radio in your stores: How is the reception? Our unit is in the middle of a masonry building with a steel roof and steel-stud walls on both sides.
Jim -

Because XM uses tons of repeaters, you can get very good reception in most places. For personal use, I have one hooked up in my basement. I just ran the antenna across the ceiling and to a basement window. Perfect reception. There is a strength meter on most receivers. You will be able to tell how good your signal is by looking at the strength meter. The only thing with XM is they promote themselves as being commercial free, but they do not hesitate to run promotional announcements about themselves between songs. In my opinion this is not commercial free, but they get around that by saying they are only letting listeners know about other channels, etc. Good luck.
Originally posted by Bob Doyle:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Paul N:

Playing it in a car? Major PIA...
$40 Radio Shack. Little unit called an I-Rock. little fm transmitter that plugs into the headphone jack of any stereo device. </font>[/QUOTE]Been there done that. But the signals disappear VERY often and you're limited to 4 frequencies!

The best solution is when it plugs right into the system itself. But with a very expensive Bose system that has no way to do that, my IPod is a cute pink little thing sitting near the dashboard!
I loaded Itunes onto a computer and loaded it up with every cd that I have and a bunch more I bought online.

I have over a weeks worth of music (literally, it tells you) on my pc and wired up speakers around the store and it works great.

It's all the benefits of an ipod (which I have and love) without any fancy players.

As for copy rights, stop being silly! I paid for my music and if I want to listen to it at work I will. Artists get paid by music stations who in turn are getting paid by advertisers who get paid by us. Circle complete and I still get to listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn at work.

Nuff said.
Originally posted by JbNormandog:
...As for copy rights, stop being silly! I paid for my music and if I want to listen to it at work I will. Artists get paid by music stations who in turn are getting paid by advertisers who get paid by us. Circle complete and I still get to listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn at work.

Nuff said.
Not exactly. I like your phraseology, but the circle is not complete.

True enough, there's no way ASCAP could visit every small business, make a cease-and-decist demand, and threaten a lawsuit. I doubt they would do that, even if they could.

On the other hand, they do respond to complaints. The LongHorn Steak House in front of my store was playing a football game on the TV in their bar a few weeks ago, and perhaps someone in the dining room found the hubbub distracting and made a call to ASCAP. The repesentative appeared last week, identified himself, and "informed" the manager about the legal definition of re-broadcasting, which calls for royalties to be paid. They have to actually witness a violation in order to take action, so that was only a "friendly visit" to make sure the manager knows they will be watching.

If an ASCAP representative ever happens to darken your door, to talk about music audible in the public area of your business, you would be well advised not to call his demands silly. The law is on his side.
I had my satellite receiver in my office on my desk (little smaller than a hockey puck). On really overcast days the receiver would loose its signal. I moved the receiver to the roof and now I don't have any problem.

Now that I have high speed internet at work, now I can listen to one station in my work shop, and a more mellow station over the computer in the gallery.
The monthly fee includes access to the website for the same price.
I paid for my music and if I want to listen to it at work I will.
You are absolutely right.

It's only when your customers get to listen to it that you might run into problems.
Originally posted by Ron Eggers:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> I paid for my music and if I want to listen to it at work I will.
You are absolutely right.

It's only when your customers get to listen to it that you might run into problems.
</font>[/QUOTE]I love such discussions!

How different is this when you're in your Ferrari convertible, or Beetle convertible, playing your own music.
Anybody you pass by will hear it. If you're at a traffic light, many more will hear it. Should one pay for this kind of public music??

How different is this from playing your own music while you work, on your own PC speakers and a customer walks in??

I would love to see such a case go to a jury and see the music Gestapo with eggs all over their faces.
The difference is that in any type of commercial business, background music is there for the enjoyment of anyone who is in that business, it is part of the atmosphere and the shopping experience.

When someone is driving down the street with the music loud enough that others hear it then that person is just annoying or deaf. I will be the first to admit that I have been accused of being annoying and deaf!

The music being played on a PC, not a public address system. It is not piped all over the store.

That's why they call it a PC, a Personal Computer, which happens to come with speakers. Any audible music to my customers is collateral damage.

It is all very subjective. And the music industry knows a jury might see it differently. That's why they threaten to sue and many people are quick to pay and settle. I would go to court over this.

It is not like we're downloading illegally and giving it away over the Internet to millions of people; that's where the industry will always win, rightfully.

I agree wholeheartedly with you on all counts but this is simply one more example of how our society has taken a concept and tried to turn it into a money making operation through the manipulations of the legal system in my humble opinion.

It seems that you can't blow your nose anymore in certain circumstances that somebody doesn't want to take issue with you in a court of law! The crafty lawyers will give their case a peek through a "free consultation" and then, if there is any glimmer of hope of cashing in on some thread of legalese, they will go to court with the plaintiff on a contingency and play Perry Mason for a day or two. I really believe that it is akin to some of the stuff you see on X-treme TV where these guys get so bored with the normal way of doing things that they push the envelope until the challenges become so ridiculous and difficult that it is a badge of honor to meet that next hairbrained challenge!

OK, I guess I need some sugar or something to get my motor started this morning so I will go and rummage through the fridge now.

Originally posted by Paul N:
How different is this when you're in your Ferrari convertible, or Beetle convertible, playing your own music...How different is this from playing your own music while you work, on your own PC speakers and a customer walks in??

I would love to see such a case go to a jury and see the music Gestapo with eggs all over their faces. [/QB]
Pointing out the lunacy of a law may be fun, but that will not change the law. Paul's "music Gestapo" knows the limits of their laws, and probably would not be caught in facial eggs.

Moreover, some may get the idea that it is OK to disregard a law they feel is unjust, which seems to be JbNormandog's approach. That may create a costly scenario, if enforcement comes along.

Copyright law about music rebroadcasting is similar to the law about print art. While law seems to say it is illegal to modify a print in any way without permission, it would be silly for a copyright owner to claim a framer's dry mounting or trimming of an open edition, decorative-only print is a violation. On the other hand, canvas transferring without permission clearly is a violation.

That said, I guess most will continue to quietly violate the law, and lose little sleep worrying about the penalties of enforcement, which may never happen.
I never said it makes sense.

Trying to apply logic and reason to the law always makes me think of an organic chemistry final in college. I thought I could reason my way through organic chemistry.

That's the day I became a geology major.
Steve T: thanks for the Sirius link. Thinking about getting one of these for store and in-car useage. Which model did you decide on?

StepH: Using my 30 gb Ipod Video with a simple line-out connection--abut $10 from Radio Shack--hooked up to my in-store receiver. It does OK--have some decent Klipsch speakers mounted in four locations in the wall--but also looking to see what Sirius can do. In all honesty, the Ipod is tricked out, guts changed and modded, amped with a separate amplifier, and would rather save it for gym/home/gardening stuff.

Psted this on anothr forum, re: wht I was looking for, when in reality wanted this thread instead.

Any info regarding satellite radios would be helpful. Reading Amazon reviews and the like and have narrowed it to Sirius Plus I can see playing Stern in the store when the old ladies come in!!!

O and about the royaly/ASCAP issue: isn't this why we're paying for the service? A form of licensing? Maybe that's why the commercial.retail fee is higher? OK I'll pay it. No problemo
I have an odd question... how many years back falls under copyright?

I play my mp3 player in my shop plugged into the self powered Sony speakers I bought for my original Discman in the late 80's. I play a variety of music but have a real weakness fot the music of the 20's and have quite the collection of it. This topic makes me wonder how far back ASCAP goes.