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.
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