Music in Classes: What are the Legalities?

There’s no question that playing current top hit music for a class is motivating, but is it legal?

Music played in classes is protected under ASCAP and other music licensing organizations. If music is played during classes as part of a for profit business, the teacher or the facility may be required to pay a licensing fee to ASCAP or other music licensing organizations. This applies to music that was purchased, downloaded or borrowed from a friend. The only music it does not apply to this is music that was specifically created for you or that is license free.

Barre classThe companies that produce music compilations specifically for use in a class or gym setting heed strict music laws and licensing requirements. For a music company to be able to use any original song in a fitness release, a license fee is negotiated with the record label that owns the song. Since this could potentially be cost prohibitive, not to mention that some labels will not even grant licenses for their more popular artists; several companies produce legal songs in which they hire talented artists to make a duplication of the original (a ‘cover’). The songs are typically set up with an even number of 8 counts and phrases, making it easier to choreograph a class and figure out the correct number of repetitions and exercises to fit the music.

Taking the time to work out what movements you want to put to music also makes you take the time to write out what you want to teach, in what order, the number of repetitions and which cues you might use. This preparation can help your teaching skills reach the next level as well as build your confidence. When you are prepared, poised and ready your class will know and they too will feel successful and more importantly, come back for more!

Here’s a sample of two Pilates movements on a simple choreography sheet set to music. The music is from Yes! Fitness Music ( and can be purchased on line through their Custom-Mixed music section. The song is “Stronger” at 128 bpm.

 8 Counts  Phrases  Exercise  Cueing  Counts
 8 x 8  2  Single Leg Stretch Knees over hips, shins parallel with floor  64
 8 x 8  2  Bridge Bend knees, hip distance. Palms up at sides  64

Now that you know the how to purchase license free music, it’s time to start looking for what ‘moves’ you and your classes. In future blogs – look for helpful hints on why music moves us and how it can help shape you as a teacher as well as benefit your students.

Do you use music in your classes now?
Is it background music or do you choreograph moves to the music?
What is the response from your students when you use music?