Frequently Asked Questions
On this page you'll find answers to many of the most commonly asked questions about our products, services, and policies. If your question isn't answered, simply contact us for assistance. Two cautions: First, if there is a discrepancy between an answer on this page and an official policy or contract document, the official policy or contract document governs. Second, the information on this page is general information, not legal advice. If you have questions of a legal nature, you should consult with an attorney of your choosing about your specific situation.
The GEM Series
What is the GEM Series product line?
For Professional Karaoke Jockeys, the set-up of choice for Karaoke shows has become MP3G files played back from a hard drive system. Unfortunately, until now, there has not been a legal source of Sound Choice MP3G files. As a matter of fact, in 90%+ cases, KJs with song files on their hard drive systems have obtained them illegally, either through buying them preloaded on a hard drive device or ripping them from their singer's CDGs or swapping files with other KJs or making multiple copies of their own libraries. The GEM Series has 6,000 of the most popular songs available on 30-song discs with MP3G files already ripped and ready to use. These are 320 kbps files for optimum sound quality and file size and include the metadata for easy organization of your song library.

What is a "possessory license," and how does it apply to the GEM Series?
A "possessory license" is the right to possess a product that you do not own for a specified time. We continue to own the physical discs you acquire in connection with the GEM Series License Agreement. We also retain possession of the discs assigned to you, on your behalf, as part of our Disc SafekeepingSM program. But you have the right to possess the media we send you on specific terms the license spells out—and we can't take that right away from you except for violations of the agreement. This is somewhat similar to a lease for an apartment, with the important exception that you have the right to renew that license every time it expires, as long as you are in good standing on the license.

Why are you licensing the GEM Series discs instead of selling them?
Licensing the GEM Series instead of selling it allows us some additional legal controls that help reduce the piracy of the content on those discs. Because we know who all of our GEM Series licensees are, if we discover someone who is using the GEM Series content who isn't a licensee, it is much easier to prove piracy. Our goal has been to make having the GEM Series as much like ownership as possible for the people who use them, while preserving our ability to stop malicious users from pirating the series.

What about the rights of other entities in these songs?
Our license covers our rights and no others. But other entities have rights in the GEM Series product—most notably, the music publishers who own the composition copyrights in the underlying musical works. We can't speak for them, so we recommend that you contact them if you're concerned. To our knowledge, however, no music publisher has ever sued a karaoke operator for media-shifting lawfully purchased music. The music publishers have gotten paid for the GEM Series discs (and you'll only be using one instance of that content), and they're getting paid for your performances (provided that your venues pay their ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC fees).

If I own other original Sound Choice discs can I shift those to a computer or hard drive?
Not without permission. Please see your license agreement for information about media-shifting other original Sound Choice discs.

Why is the GEM Series only available to professional KJs, DJs and Venues?
We are licensing (not selling) the GEM Series content directly to the end user in order to reduce the opportunity for piracy of the files. Each set of discs must be accompanied with the appropriate signed agreements in order for their use to be legal. The cost and size of the song packages lend themselves to the professional market only. We also find that the private enthusiast market has historically been a huge source for piracy. For those reasons, the GEM Series is available ONLY to professional KJs, who are our primary market for our MP3G files.

Does the GEM Series duplicate any Sound Choice music on other Sound Choice products?
All of the songs in the GEM Series have been previously released on various Spotlight CDGs. We began with what we thought were the 10,000 best songs (out of the more than 15,000 we recorded between 1987 and 2009) and then continuously whittled down the list based on being able to obtain the licensing and fitting them together into some sort of coherent list. For those who have already bought the Foundation and Bricks, the Diamond contains all 1,500 of those songs and an additional 1,500 songs.

The GEM Series is ideally suited for the legal hosts who would like to add on to their existing collection or start a new system or for the KJ who has been operating illegally and wants to get legal and avoid being sued. Some of the GEM Series sets are also used as the sets of discs offered in settlement of lawsuits.

By defining an additional requirement to be compliant with Sound Choice's policies, the GEM Series provides the professional KJ a level of protection against being pirated by their own employees and something they can use to prove they are legal. If they want to sell their business they can pass along the GEM Series discs (with certain limitations) as part of that sale.

Can I license an individual GEM disc?
No. The discs are licensed in specific sets.

Can SC demand the return of the discs?
For license agreements entered into before June 30, 2017:

We can only demand the return of the discs if you violate the terms of the License Agreement or if you choose not to renew at the end of the term.

For license agreements entered into on or after June 30, 2017:

Your license agreement includes Disc SafekeepingSM, so the discs will remain in our possession at all times, tagged with your license information and set aside and stored in our warehouse.

Will you take into account possible business name changes of shows by hosts that bought your discs?
Yes. If you change your business name or method of organization (LLC, Partnership, etc.), just contact us and we'll be glad to change our records.

Why is there a renewal fee after three years?
After three years, you are required to pay a maximum $50 annual fee to renew your license. This fee is needed to continue the GEM series license as a license rather than an outright sale. The fee will not exceed $50 per year, and one fee covers the entire system.

Prior to June 2017, GEM series licenses were for five years and had a three-year renewal. We have shortened the license term to ensure that we stay in closer contact with our licensees.

What if I want to sell my business and keep my computer equipment?
You may not transfer possession of the original GEM Series discs (if any) or the computer on which you transferred the songs to any third party unless (i) you have our written permission to do so, and (ii) you complete and return a "Certificate for Transfer of Possession of Licensed Media." The third party must also execute the then-current version of the Agreement with Sound Choice as a condition of the transfer. In the event of a transfer, you must remove the GEM Series songs from any computer or hard drive to which you have shifted that content unless the transfer of the media is part of the transaction and we give prior written approval for the transfer to the third party.

What do you mean by not splitting the set?
All songs on all discs in a set under a corresponding Proof of License Sticker must reside together on the same hard drive system. They may not be split up so as to subdivide the set, load part of the set onto one Non-Original Medium and part of the set onto another Non-Original Medium, or divide the set for transfer to multiple recipients. For further clarification and the avoidance of doubt by way of example, all songs on Discs numbered 10001 thru 10100 and commonly referred to as The Diamond must remain together on the one Non-Original Medium which will have the corresponding Proof-of License Sticker affixed to it; all songs on Discs numbered 10181 through 10190 and commonly referred to as Sapphire 1 must remain together on one Non-Original Medium which will have the corresponding Proof-of License Sticker affixed to it, etc.

I live in Canada; can I license the GEM Series up here?
Yes, the GEM Series can be licensed in both the United States and Canada, as well as the territories and possessions of either country.

I don't live in the United States or Canada. Can I license the GEM Series?
We may consider licensing the GEM series to you for use outside the United States or Canada. Please contact our Customer Care department to discuss your options. We are committed to supporting the legal use of our music anywhere people want to enjoy it, so we will work with you to find a solution.

Do I need any Performance License to put on a show?
If you are hosting a karaoke show (where other people come up and sing to your collection of karaoke tracks) and you are doing private events (weddings, birthday parties, church social events, corporate parties, etc.) you do not need further licenses to use GEM Series content. If you are hosting an event in a publicly accessible venue such as a restaurant or bar, the venue is supposed to have performance licenses issued from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, which would cover your playing there. These organizations generally do not license individual operators, but instead get their fees from the venues where you play. You should verify with the venue owner that these fees have been paid before agreeing to play a show there.

I have a GEM series license and a HELP license for the same system. Are there any special considerations?
You might be asking this question because the GEM series license, by itself, requires you to delete any Sound Choice® tracks for which you don't have an original disc, while the HELP license permits you to have and use Sound Choice® red-logo tracks even if you don't have an original disc.

If you have a GEM series license and a HELP license for the same system, the HELP license supersedes the clause in the GEM series license that prohibits the possession and use of non-1:1 tracks on that system.

The bottom line is that in that situation, it's OK. Please contact Customer Care if you have any questions.

What is Disc Safekeeping?
Disc Safekeeping is a program we began offering in June 2017. Rather than shipping GEM series discs to you, we store the GEM series discs you license in our warehouse, on your behalf. You will be assigned specific disc serial numbers, and those discs will be set aside in our warehouse and not otherwise used.

Instead of sending you discs, we will send you a USB drive that contains the content of the discs you licensed. (You should treat that USB drive like an original medium.)

One of the benefits of Disc Safekeeping is that you do not have to engage in the time-consuming task of copying the content of 200+ discs to a hard drive for use in your shows. With appropriate playback software, you can begin running a show literally 5 minutes after receiving the USB drive.

Please review the license agreement for important details about the Disc Safekeeping program.

HELP Licensing Program
Why do I need HELP?
Professional karaoke operators and venues use SOUND CHOICE®-branded karaoke tracks to put on karaoke shows. If you play from original SOUND CHOICE® discs, that's fine—you don't need this program. But you need our permission if you play SOUND CHOICE® tracks from a hard drive or some other non-original medium. HELP is one way to get that permission.

Why do I need permission to play Sound Choice® tracks from a hard drive or other non-original medium?
We own the Sound Choice trademarks. When you "rip" tracks from an original disc to a hard drive (also known as media-shifting), you're making a copy of the tracks and putting our trademark on them. The law gives us the right—and the obligation—to control that activity.

I bought all my Sound Choice discs. Why do I have to pay you again to media-shift my discs?
You're welcome to use the original discs you bought. If you want to use media-shifted tracks, you'll need a license from us, whether that's through our Certification program or HELP.

What tracks does the HELP Program apply to?
Your HELP license covers any of the more than 16,500 "red logo" tracks recorded and published by Sound Choice between 1987 and 2009. You can tell whether the HELP license applies to a track by examining the logo that is displayed when you play it. If the musical staff of that logo is red (in its original form), you're covered. The HELP license does not cover the GEM Series tracks (which have a blue logo and are marked "Pro Series") or any tracks produced as part of our new production series (which will have a green logo).

Where do I get the tracks I'm going to use?
The tracks you use come from original Sound Choice-branded CD+G discs. The HELP program does not grant you the right to obtain tracks from other than original discs, but our program does not require proof of disc ownership or 1:1 correspondence. Where you source the tracks you use is up to you. Bear in mind obtaining tracks other than from original discs may constitute copyright infringement, which you commit at your own risk.

What license do I need?
If you're a karaoke operator, meaning that you own one or more karaoke rigs that you use (or can use) to play shows at multiple locations, you need a HELP Operator License.

If you're a venue that owns its own karaoke system, you need a HELP Venue License.

If you're a venue that hires outside operators to put on karaoke shows where Sound Choice®-branded music is played, you can either (a) hire only operators who have a valid license to play Sound Choice tracks (HELP, GEM, or Certification), or (b) get your own HELP Blanket License, which covers any operator you hire.

How much do licenses cost?
HELP Licenses are now subject to market-based pricing. That means that the prices vary depending on the market where you're operating. In order to generate a price for you, we'll need some information about your company, as well as the ZIP code where you operate. Discounts are available for pre-paying your license fees.

Regardless of your license type, you can lock in your pricing for up to 30 months based on the commitment term.

Why do you charge different prices based on markets?
Economic conditions in different markets are different. A license fee that's low for one market may be astronomical in another. Charging different prices in different markets allows us to account for those differences.

How do you draw the markets' boundary lines?
Market boundaries are drawn, with some exceptions, based on the dominant city in the area and its surrounding territory. Most operators service only a very small geographic area—usually within 50 miles of their home.

My service area overlaps two different markets. Do I need two different licenses?
Not necessarily. We can customize a license for you based on your specific needs. To get a custom quote, just contact Customer Care.

What happens if I get a show that's outside my designated market?
If that happens, we can modify your licensed territory to include the area you need. There may be a small additional charge depending on the pricing for the additional market area—but there may not be.

Do I need multiple types of licenses?
Probably not. If you run a mobile entertainment business AND you also separately own or manage a venue that features karaoke, then you might be interested in multiple types of licenses.

What happened to the Venue Blanket License?
We've combined the previous Venue and Blanket licenses into one license type. Venues now use the same Venue License whether they own their own karaoke systems or hire someone to come in.

We changed this because there was a lot of confusion among venues about which license they needed. The resulting program is simpler and easier to understand.

Are there any quality restrictions on the tracks I use?
Yes. If you use MP3+G format, your MP3 files must be encoded at a minimum bitrate of 192 kbps. You may also use WAV or AIFF format (both of which are "lossless"). The tracks you use cannot have any perceptible audio dropouts or graphical defects, and if you discover any, you must replace those tracks or remove them from use. You must also provide "professional"-level services and use equipment that is appropriate for the venue where you are playing. You'll need to certify that you're doing so. We are developing a specialized tool that will allow you to check the encoding of your MP3 files.

Do I have to pay by credit card?
A major credit card (Mastercard, Visa, Discover) is required for monthly billing. Unless you indicate changes to your setup before your autobill date, we'll continue to charge your card each month based on the previous month's setup.

For prepaid licenses, we can arrange to accept a check.

I'm putting a new rig into service. What do I do?
Simply log on to your account and order a second HELP license.

I'm taking a rig out of service. What do I do?
Please contact Customer Care to discuss the various options for suspending or canceling your system. We want to help.

If I take a rig out of service mid-month, do I get a partial credit or refund?
No. Monthly plan fees cover each month or fraction of a month. There are no credits or refunds for the unused portion of the month. (We will not actually cancel your license for that rig until the end of the month.)

Do I have to log in each month and pay?
No. We'll bill your credit card for the amount due each month. If you need to change your credit card, just contact Customer Care.

I'm a Sound Choice Certified KJ. Do I need a HELP License?
If you're a Sound Choice Certified KJ, you may continue to operate under that program indefinitely. However, you may find it useful to switch to the HELP License to gain trademark licensing for additional tracks or rigs.

What if I need to terminate my contract early?
All HELP Licenses carry a minimum commitment of at least 6 months. If you need to cancel early, there is a $30 Early Termination Fee for each month remaining in your obligation at the time of cancellation. Our goal is to be reasonable and to take your circumstances into account. If you need to cancel, please contact Customer Care for assistance.

I live in New York (or I operate in New York). Can I participate in the HELP Program?
Yes, the HELP program is available to New York residents. Slightly different terms apply to New York residents.

I live outside the United States. Can I participate in HELP?
Yes. Please note that the HELP license program is governed by U.S. law. You should check the laws in your jurisdiction to determine whether there are any additional requirements necessary for you to operate legally.

I have a GEM series license and a HELP license for the same system. Are there any special considerations?
You might be asking this question because the GEM series license, by itself, requires you to delete any Sound Choice® tracks for which you don't have an original disc, while the HELP license permits you to have and use Sound Choice® red-logo tracks even if you don't have an original disc.

If you have a GEM series license and a HELP license for the same system, the HELP license supersedes the clause in the GEM series license that prohibits the possession and use of non-1:1 tracks on that system.

The bottom line is that in that situation, it's OK. Please contact Customer Care if you have any questions.

What is certification?
Certification is the process by which karaoke operators who wish to use non-original media to produce commercial karaoke shows obtain our permission to use the SOUND CHOICE® trademarks, service marks, and trade dress, as well as other intellectual property rights we own. Certification is an integral part of our Media-Shifting Policy.

Who needs to be certified?
Karaoke system owners who use media other than original SOUND CHOICE discs to play tracks that bear the SOUND CHOICE trademarks, service marks, or trade dress must be certified in order to avoid being sued for infringement of Phoenix's intellectual property rights.

What does it cost to become certified? Why is there a charge?
Your initial certification costs $250.00 for each system you wish to certify. This charge offsets a portion of the cost of conducting the certification audit.

Recertification is optional, but if you request it, the cost is $100.00 per system previously certified. Recertification costs less because there is less work to do on our end.

I only use manufacturer's original discs in my shows. Do I need to be certified?
No. However, since there are some benefits associated with being certified, we offer certification to original disc-based hosts on an equal basis with other hosts.

What does certification entail?
The first step in getting certified is to apply for certification. More information is available here. The application requests information about your business and operations and about your disc holdings and systems. There is a fee for certification.

Once your completed application is approved by Phoenix, we will conduct an audit of your computer system(s) and original media.

When it's time for your audit, we will examine your discs and computer systems, and your discs will be marked in invisible ink (visible under blacklight) with a special code that prevents your discs from being loaned to others for their audits.

Most audits are conducted remotely using Skype. More details are available on our certification page.

How long does certification last?
Your initial certification is permanent. However, your certification can be revoked if you don't stay compliant with all of the requirements for certification.

Your certification does not need to be renewed, but we do offer a recertification program that allows you to obtain an updated certification date that will display in our online system. You may find an updated status helpful in your marketing efforts. It's up to you.

I'm a Tennessee resident. Can I be certified?
Yes. Tennessee residents can now be certified.

I'm outside the U.S. Can I be certified?
Yes. Certification is open to karaoke operators outside the U.S., as long as it is permitted under the laws of their home countries. All transactions with us are conducted in U.S. dollars, and any disputes will be governed by the laws of the United States (North Carolina specifically).

What are the laws or rules governing the transfer of CDG song content to a computer?
We understand the desire to make life easier by shifting all your song content (i.e., not running from original discs) to a computer and running your shows from a laptop. Unfortunately, this format/media shift from CDG to MP3G files on your computer is not an authorized right that is granted to karaoke producers in their CDG licenses from the publishers. For that reason, karaoke producers cannot in turn grant you full rights to make this shift.

In some countries that have a rights society that represents all copyrighted works—for example, the United Kingdom and Australia—there is an available license that grants the right to shift. In the UK, it's called a "Pro-Dub" license and costs approximately US$320 a year. In Australia, the cost to do this is nearly USD$0.15 per song! In the case of Karaoke, since the rights societies do not represent or collect for the karaoke producers, the karaoke companies must be paid on top of these fees. However, in the US, such permissions would need to be obtained from each publisher for each song, since there is not an organization that represents all songs for karaoke.

In the US, copyright and trademark laws govern the rights of intellectual property owners, and the net effect is that permission must be obtained from all rights holders to be "in the clear." There are some limitations, including "fair use," but the commercial nature of the activity weighs against the application of those limitations.

If you have questions about your specific situation, we encourage you to speak with an attorney who practices intellectual property law.

What is Sound Choice's policy on transferring songs off the original disc and onto a computer or other machine?
For the GEM Series, our policy is spelled out in the GEM Series License Agreement, which is provided on the GEM Series page.

For other Sound Choice-branded materials, please see our Media Shifting Policy Page.

What is Format Shifting?
Format shifting is copying content from one technological format to another. Examples of Video formats are AVI, DivX, MPEG-4, Quicktime, WindowsMedia, Xvid. Each of these formats is further complicated by having a different codec associated with each format. A Compact Disc Plus Graphics format song (commonly referred to as CDG or CD+G) is technically a red book standard audio format with the lyric information "hidden" in the R thru W subcodes. The song content exists on the CD as a "track." On the other hand, the MP3 Plus Graphics format is basically a CDG file that has been format shifted to enable playback on a computer system rather than an audio disc player. It consists of the digital audio file compressed to the MP3 standard audio format and the R-W graphics data stored in a separate file. When played back through an appropriate software program both files are read simultaneously and synchronized to provide the audio and lyric playback. As such, the song content resides on a storage media as two separate files or one zipped file and can be easily transferred as digital files.

What is Media Shifting?
Media shifting is moving a file from one physical media to another. For example moving a file from a USB memory stick (one form of media) to the hard drive of your computer (a second form of media) is "media shifting". In the specific case of moving content from a CDG disc to a hard drive on a computer, the user is both format shifting AND media shifting. However, in the case of moving the Sound Choice MP3G file from the original GEM Series disc to your hard drive, you are merely media shifting the song content, since the original paired file format is maintained.

It's important to remember that media-shifting is copying.

Please summarize the Media Shifting Policy.
We'd prefer that you read the full Media Shifting Policy. Briefly stated, however, the Media Shifting Policy (MSP) requires compliance with four conditions:

  • 1:1 ("one-to-one") correspondence, meaning that for every media-shifted karaoke track (Sound Choice® or Chartbuster Karaoke®)on a given medium such as a computer hard drive, the operator owns and maintains possession of a bona fide original karaoke track on its original medium, on a one-copy-for-one-original basis;
  • that the original media that form the basis for 1:1 correspondence are placed "on the shelf," i.e., not used for any purpose at all;
  • that the operator notify us that he or she has media-shifted karaoke tracks; and
  • that the operator submit to and be certified as having passed an audit of the operator's systems to verify complete compliance with the MSP.

The basis of our authority to require compliance with the MSP is our right to control the commercial use of our federally registered trademarks and, as to some tracks, our ownership of copyright in the synchronized audiovisual work represented by and in the sound recordings associated with those tracks.

If an operator complies with all four conditions of the MSP, then that operator is granted permission from us, co-extensive only with our rights in the subject matter, to use the media-shifted copies to provide commercial karaoke services.

If an operator fails to comply with any of the conditions of the MSP, then none of the media-shifting the operator has conducted is permitted, authorized, or tolerated by us.

What is meant by "1:1"? Is it the same thing as the Media Shifting Policy?
KJs have come to incorrectly use the term "1:1" as a shortened summary for our Media Shifting Policy, whereas, in actuality, it only describes the part of the policy that refers to the requirement that you must maintain a "one-to-one" relationship of legally owned original discs for each new copy of the song files transferred to a new non-original media. THERE ARE ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS TO BE IN COMPLIANCE with our Media Shifting Policy, so don't be misled into believing that only having a 1:1 correspondence is sufficient to avoid infringement.

Chartbuster Karaoke®
Is it true that you now own the Chartbuster Karaoke® trademarks and associated trade dress?
Yes. We formally acquired the Chartbuster Karaoke® federally registered trademarks and all associated trade dress on November 11, 2015. If you check the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, you can verify that we are the owner of those registered marks.

How can you own trademarks on a product another company made?
Trademarks are a form of intellectual property rights (similar to patents and copyrights) that can be transferred between entities as long as certain rules are followed. Companies buy and sell their brands frequently, even among direct competitors.

Do you own any copyrights in the Chartbuster Karaoke catalog?
Yes, we have also acquired the copyright in thousands of historical Chartbuster Karaoke tracks, and we do enforce our rights in those tracks.

Are you planning to sell the Chartbuster back catalog? What about new material?
We offer past Chartbuster tracks, discs, and other media for direct purchase from our website from time to time. However, these items are limited and will by no means constitute the entire back catalog. We may also make selected new tracks available under the Chartbuster brand.

How can I buy Chartbuster discs and other media?
You can buy some Chartbuster media directly from us. You are also welcome to buy any legitimate original Chartbuster media in the "secondary" (used) market. eBay is a popular source for buying and selling used discs and other media. But be careful, because not everything that's available in secondary markets is original. There are many unscrupulous dealers. You should avoid purchasing hard drives preloaded with Chartbuster tracks from anyone, unless the hard drive was originally sold by Chartbuster.

Digitrax Entertainment offers many tracks that use the Chartbuster masters, as well as new material, in single-song downloads and subscription formats.

What is your media-shifting policy for Chartbuster Karaoke® media?
The current Media-Shifting Policy for Chartbuster Karaoke tracks is the same as for Sound Choice tracks:

(1) Media-shifting is not allowed without our permission.
(2) To get our permission, you must:
  • Own, possess, and not otherwise use Original Media that correspond, on a 1-original-to-1-non-original basis, to all of the Non-Original Media that are in Commercial Use. This is known as "1:1 correspondence."


  • Apply for and receive Chartbuster Karaoke Certification, which includes an audit of your computer system(s) and original media.
Certification is available at no charge for those operators who exclusively use bona fide original Chartbuster Karaoke media (i.e., without media-shifting).

I was Chartbuster Certified by the original company. Do I need to get certified again?
We believe that all of the certifications that were issued by Tennessee Production Center, the company that originated the Chartbuster Karaoke brand, are now expired. If you are in possession of an unexpired certification document, and that document has an expiration date in the future, we will recognize it until the expiration date. If it has no expiration date, you will need to be re-certified.

I'm in Canada (or another country other than the U.S.). Can I be certified?
Yes, certification is open to anyone. However, we do not have the resources to conduct in-person audits in non-U.S. locations, so a remote audit will be your only option.

Does the Sound Choice® HELP License apply to Chartbuster Karaoke® tracks?
No. The HELP license only applies to red-logo Sound Choice tracks.

Can I buy a HELP-style license for Chartbuster Karaoke® tracks?
No. We will not be offering that type of program.

What happened to the Chartbuster Karaoke Registration Program?
Chartbuster Karaoke Registration was discontinued and replaced with our new Chartbuster Karaoke Certification Program. Operators who joined our registration program before it was discontinued will continue to be recognized as such. We encourage all registered operators to upgrade to the new certification program.

Sound Choice Entertainment
How do I become a part of Sound Choice Entertainment?
Becoming a Sound Choice Entertainment karaoke jockey requires advanced skill as an entertainer, access to reliable, high-quality sound equipment, and at least basic knowledge of sound engineering principles (primarily speaker setup and sound management for your PA). Preference is given to existing licensees, but participation is by invitation only. If you're interested in becoming an SCE operator, please contact Customer Care.

How do I hire SCE to put on karaoke shows at my venue, corporate event, or private party?
Contact Customer Care for assistance. For special events, please provide as much lead time as possible so that we can do what's necessary to make your event a success. For regular, repeating venue gigs, less notice may be necessary, depending on whether we have an existing SCE operator in your area.

Safe Harbor for Venues
What is a karaoke venue?
A "karaoke venue" is a physical location where karaoke is played for commercial purposes. Typical karaoke venues include bars, restaurants, service clubs and halls (like American Legion or VFW posts, Chamber of Commerce halls, Shrine temples, or Knights of Columbus, to a name a few), wedding chapels, dance halls, nightclubs, and the like. Street fairs, community events, and block parties can also be karaoke venues, if there is a commercial purpose. A "commercial purpose" means that the karaoke host is being paid, or the purpose of the karaoke show is to attract paying customers for another enterprise, or the karaoke show is being used as (or as part of) a fundraiser.

Can I really be sued for infringement that happens on my premises?
Karaoke operators that use pirated material are committing infringement of our intellectual property rights in the Sound Choice marks. It cost millions of dollars to create the accompaniment tracks that karaoke operators use and to build up the Sound Choice brand. When a host uses Sound Choice materials without paying for them, that host may be violating the law. If you own or run a venue and you hire a host who infringes our rights, you may also be held liable for the host's activities.

Depending on the situation, you may be held directly liable based upon your participation in or promotion of the infringing activity, or you may be held to be vicariously liable, which applies if you knew or should have known about the infringement, you had the right to control the activity (such as by allowing or refusing the host access to your venue), and you benefited from it.

What are the penalties?
For copyright infringement, a court can impose damages of up to $150,000 per infringing song. For trademark infringement, the court can impose damages of up to $2 million per mark infringed. Of course, the actual award depends on a number of factors.

You can't sue me. My karaoke host is an independent contractor.
As far as the law is concerned, that usually doesn't matter, as long as you participated in or promoted the infringing activity, or if you knew or should have known about the infringement and benefited from it.

How can I tell if my host is legal or not?
The easiest way is to join our program and let us do the checking. The following features usually indicate piracy:
  • Having more than 30,000 karaoke tracks, especially if the host is new to the business
  • Having "every song you can imagine"
  • Playing Sound Choice tracks from YouTube*
  • Downloading Sound Choice tracks on demand*
  • Playing Sound Choice tracks with poor sound quality or messed-up graphics
  • Playing Sound Choice tracks with a hard drive without being a Sound Choice Certified KJ or HELP Licensee
  • Working for less than about $150 per night (varies by market) or for beer and tip money

It's important to remember that not everyone who fits these criteria is a pirate (except the ones marked with an asterisk (*); those activities are always acts of piracy), and not everyone who doesn't is a legal operator.

I paid my ASCAP/BMI/SESAC fees. Aren't I covered?
Keep paying those fees, because they cover important rights belonging to music publishers. But none of those fees go to us, so paying them will not keep you out of a Sound Choice lawsuit.

Aren't you just trying to make more money?
You bet. It cost a lot of money to make the karaoke tracks we sell and to pay for the rights to do so. We make money by selling CDs to karaoke hosts and enthusiasts. When people steal instead of buying, it's not fair to us, to the songwriters we pay royalties to, or to our customers, who spend their hard-earned money to do what's right. But it's not just about making money--if it were, would we create a free program to help you stay legal?

How will you use the information I give you?
We will use the information you provide us about your venue to verify who you are, so that when we bring an enforcement action in your area, we keep you out of the lawsuits we file. We will use the information you provide us about your karaoke host to verify that the host is operating legally--or, if not, to help that host get legal and square with our policies. We may also use all of that information to notify you about developments in the karaoke industry that you might be interested in.

How much does this program cost?
It's 100% free for you and 100% free for your hosts (although hosts may incur charges to get legal). All that's required from you is a few minutes of your time.

How do I sign up?
You can register online at this link. If online registration isn't available, please contact Customer Care for assistance.

What happens after I sign up?
As part of your registration, you'll list the karaoke operators you use or plan to use. We take it from there by checking out your operator's licensing status—and if there's a problem, we'll let you know so that you can take appropriate action. Any time you add a new operator, you'll need to let us know.

What if I own/run more than one venue?
You'll need to register each location through your account.

Do hosts need to register for this program?
No. We will contact the host using the information you provide. You should inform your host that you're using this program so that they will expect our call.

Can you guarantee I won't be sued?
Yes and no. If you follow our instructions, we guarantee that Phoenix Entertainment will not sue you for copyright or trademark infringement based upon the actions of any host you inform us about, with one exception. If we determine that the host you've hired is an infringer and we are unable to resolve our dispute with the host, we will notify you. If you continue to use the services of that host for more than 30 days after our notification, we may sue you for infringement occurring after that date.

Also, we cannot guarantee that another company, such as a competitor of the Sound Choice brand, will not sue you, even if you are in our Safe Harbor program. Therefore, you might wish to verify with your host that he/she has legally purchased music for their entire library and have them prove it.

I own my own system. Should I sign up for this program?
No. This program is only for venues that hire hosts who bring their own music. If you own your own karaoke system (and therefore supply your own music), you can contact us for help in getting and staying legal. Even if you think your system might not be legal, it's better to contact us first to fix the problem rather than waiting to be sued.

I'm a karaoke host. Can I sign up for Safe Harbor?
No, we no longer register hosts through our Safe Harbor program. If you use Sound Choice® tracks in your shows, you should consider joining one of our licensing and compliance programs, including HELP, the GEM series, or Sound Choice Certification. Even if you're an original disc user, you can join the Sound Choice Certification program for free. Joining a licensing or compliance program gets you a free listing in our Licensee Directory.

If you use Chartbuster Karaoke® tracks in your shows, the only options are to use original media or to get Chartbuster Karaoke Certified, because we do not offer other licensing or compliance programs.

If one of your venues signs up for Safe Harbor, and you aren't already in one of our programs, we will contact you to check your compliance status.

What happened to the Chartbuster Karaoke Registration Program?
Chartbuster Karaoke Registration was discontinued and replaced with our new Chartbuster Karaoke Certification Program. Operators who joined our registration program before it was discontinued will continue to be recognized as such. We encourage all registered operators to upgrade to the new certification program.