The right to perform music in public is called Performing Rights.  The Performing Rights are part of the copyright law that lay claim that a payment must be made to the Composer, Lyricist and Publisher for the music performed.

If a performance takes place in a public place and the audience is not within the limited circle of friends and family then a performances is considered “public”.  This includes restaurants, concerts, nightclubs, TV and radio broadcast, cable/ satellite television and radio, internet, or any transmitted performance of a song.

The payments collected for Performing Rights are typically collected by Performing Rights Organizations or Rights Societies.  In the United States there are three organizations; ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.