Use of music recordings at Wichita State - FAQ


The use of music at an event can help energize an audience or set a certain mood for an event. However, there are certain laws and procedures that must be followed to use music appropriately at any event on campus.

What licenses does the University already hold?

The University holds licenses from BMI and ASCAP to cover the public performance of certain works of music, both recorded and performed, in certain situations and venues on campus. The BMI license does permit the playback of recorded music that is covered by their license at live events and venues open to the public at Wichita State University. ASCAP primarily permits the live performance of certain works by artists that they serve. In either case, the music recordings or works of music must have been legally obtained from an authorized vendor of the music.

What about streaming music services, such as Pandora, Spotify, Amazon or Apple Music?

While the University has licenses from BMI and ASCAP to cover the public playback or performance of certain works of music, music service providers have their own Terms of Serivce (or "terms and conditions") that must be followed as well. Pandora, iHeartMedia, Amazon and Spotify all include verbiage that explicitly state that their services are for "personal, non-commercial" use only. This excludes use of their services in most situations on campus.

What about using music in my class?

Music playback and performance within a face-to-face class is almost always permitted under fair use laws and most terms of service. This does not always apply to online courses, however, as the source of the music you are adding to your online class may have its own terms of service that may prohibit this. Please read the service provider's terms of service and check with the Instructional Design & Access team at the Media Resources Center if you need guidance for your online course materials.

Can I use music in my video or live streamed event?

If you are producing a video for the promotion of the University or its constituents, including informational, news reporting, or other similar videos, most works of music require a separate "mechanical license" for this use. You may use recordings that are licensed under Creative Commons (if credited properly), or if publishing a video on YouTube only, from YouTube's library of licensed music.

Even if music is being played back legally at an event venue, if the event is being live streamed on the Internet, the audio of that music may not be broadcast on the live stream without an additional license.

I have an event for which I would like to have some background music; what should I do?

The following methods are acceptable for use at live events, in descending order of preference:

  1. Play music from a commercially-produced and legally-obtained CD. Unless otherwise stated, most physical media--such as compact discs--may be used in accordance with the aforementioned ASCAP or BMI licenses. Personally "burned" or authored CDs with music from different recordings are not permitted, and are likely violating the license of the original recording media.
  2. Purchase music from iTunes or the Google Play store and play back on a laptop or mobile device. As long as the music purchased is covered by BMI, ASCAP, Creative Commons, or other license, this is typically a permissible use.
  3. The Media Resources Center maintains a small library of music that may be used as part of your event. Contact CMS at 978-3588 or
  4. To search the ASCAP catalog to see if the music you wish to use is included, visit:
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Article ID: 62883
Mon 9/24/18 10:14 AM
Wed 10/13/21 1:32 PM