Current information about the payouts can be found here.

Distribution of royalties in category M (Entertainment Music Playback)

Industrielle eingerichtete Bar.

Music fills the tills – including those of GEMA members 

Nowadays music is played in many public places – ranging from bars, cafés and restaurants to hair salons, supermarkets and retail shops. Even in waiting rooms, there is often background music playing. Much is known about how music increases sales and creates a pleasant atmosphere. This is yet another reason why the creators of this music should receive a fair share of the revenue they help generate. This is where GEMA comes in: We distribute licence revenues from public playbacks of music – whether from physical media or on the radio – in different distribution categories, including category M.

Entertainment Music Playback easily explained

The letter “M” in the name of this distribution category stands for what is known as the mechanical right. To today’s ears, this may sound like a word from another time. What it means, though, is that music is not performed live but played back on some technical device, e.g. on a music system or radio.

Music users, such as hair salons or supermarkets, have no obligation to report to GEMA what music they played. Nevertheless, to allow the revenue to be distributed as fairly as possible, the distribution in other categories is referred to as a basis. For example, part of the mechanical revenue is distributed in distribution category R (Radio) while another part is distributed in distribution category M based on live performances in category U. We have specific usage reports for both these distribution categories – and it is only logical that what gets played on the radio and who gets to perform live is played back in public places.


Distribution in other categories of playback use

It is important to note that the royalties for playbacks in discotheques are distributed in a separate category (distribution category DK – Music Playback in Discotheques), as are royalties for playbacks of serious music (distribution category EM – Serious Music Playback).

Entertainment Music Playback at a glance


Where the royalties come from:
​​​​​​​Most of the royalties come from the retail sector and from restaurants, bars, hair salons, etc. who, as users of music, pay a fee for playing background music (tariff M-U). Part of the revenue is also generated from music playbacks at cinemas (category T – Sound Film) and from playbacks of audio-visual recordings.

How royalties are distributed:
Due to the absence of usage data, royalties must be distributed by reference to other distribution categories. Given that a radio is played in most cases, we distribute 60% of the royalties received in distribution category R (Radio). 40% of the royalties is distributed as a supplement in the live-performance categories U and UD, based on the assumption that music that is played back, for example, at shops is also performed live.

No usage data:
​​​​​​​Given that users of background music have no obligation to report to GEMA what pieces of music they have played, we have no usage data on file.

How to request direct distribution

Direct distribution may also be possible in certain circumstances, for example where a work is used only in a particular context (e.g. pieces of sound art or department store theme tunes), but has to be specifically requested. If you want to request direct distribution, please email us at

Important dates and deadlines for you

Declare works in time: 
All works should be registered to GEMA at the latest upon release, preferably using our online work registration service. Please bear in mind that your work must be registered on or before 31 January of the year following its use to be taken into account in the annual royalty pay-out on 1 June.

Distribution cycle over the year:
1 July: Distribution of supplements in distribution category M (special provision of § 129 of the GEMA Distribution Plan: “COVID-19 M supplement”)

1 November: Credit adjustment in distribution category M and direct distribution upon request (according to § 130 of the GEMA distribution plan)

Time limit for claims:
Claims regarding the distribution of main royalties must be made within 9 months of the distribution date (i.e. by 1 March of the following year). The claims period for all other distributions in this category is 3 months. For more detailed information about how to do this and what you need to know, please refer to the claims section of our website.

The deadline for submitting requests for direct distribution is 30 June.

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