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City of Cambridge

Annual Entertainment License

License

Saxophone Players

Annual Entertainment Licenses are issued by the Cambridge License Commission and governed by Massachusetts General Law ch. 140 sec. 181, sec. 183A and Cambridge Regulations. The process length for an Entertainment License is approximately four to six weeks.

You will need to obtain an entertainment license under the following circumstances:

Entertainment Licenses under M.G.L. c.140 183A: You will need this license if you are a holder of a Common Victualler or Alcohol License, and feature any kind of "concert, dance exhibition, cabaret, or public show of any description A "public show of any description" would include dancing by patrons or performers, recorded or live music, use of an amplification system, a theatrical play or exhibition, a film, a floor show or light show of any description, or any other kind of dynamic audio or visual show, whether live or recorded.". M.G.L. c. 140 183A.

Entertainment Licenses under M.G.L. c. 140 181: You will need this license if you offer "theatrical exhibitions, public shows, public amusements and exhibitions of every description" and you charge an admission fee, or if "after free admission, amusement is furnished upon a deposit of money in a coin controlled apparatus" M.G.L. c. 140 181.

Entertainment Licenses under M.G.L. c.140 177A: You will need this license if you offer an "automatic amusement device", which is a coin-operated amusement skill game such as a pinball machine or video game.

The ENTERTAINMENT LICENSE FEE SCHEDULE breaks out the annual cost of the license depending on which types of entertainment is provided by the establishment. 

The application process:

Applications for entertainment licenses may be obtained at the License Commission, 831 Massachusetts Ave or ONLINE.

It is recommended that establishments apply for their Common Victualler (if applicable) and Alcohol License (if applicable) simultaneously with the Entertainment License so they can all be heard at one Public Hearing.

A person filing an application for an entertainment license must complete the application and file it with the License Commission. They may be also be required to file other documentation along with the application. For example, most venues must file a License Premises Inspection Approval Form before a license is granted showing that the venue is safe for the public, and how many persons may enter at a given time. In addition, applicants are often required to file a Certificate of Use and Occupancy, corporate papers, a deed or lease to the venue, and other permits necessary to their operation. When an applicant obtains an application from the Licensing Division, they are told which specific documents they will need to obtain, and where they need to go to get them.

The Licensing Division may decide to hold a hearing on an application. All of the Licensing Commission hearings are open to the public. 

The Licensing Division may elect to place certain conditions on an entertainment license before issuing it. Licensees are, of course, required to adhere to all conditions placed on their license. The Commission also issues regulations that all licenses must adhere to. 

Tips and FAQs

Does my business need to apply for an Annual Entertainment License?

If your business plays music or has a television, you would need to apply for an annual Entertainment License. Additional services that would require your establishment to have an Annual Entertainment License include but are not limited to: 

  • Disc Jockey 
  • Karaoke
  • Dancing by Patrons
  • Live Band Music
  • Juke Box
  • Trivia
  • Billiard, Pool or Sippio Tables
  • Bowling Alley 
  • Video Games machines, including Pinball 
  • Readings 
  • Theatrical Stage
  • Cinema Screen
  • Live Show

How to I Apply For A One-Day Entertainment License?

Please see detailed instructions on the I want to apply for a One-Day Entertainment License Page. 

Do I need to Notify Abutters when applying for this license?

Applicants for an Entertainment License must receive approval from zoning and notify abutters for all entertainment except background music and televisions. 

Last Updated: 3/27/2017 | Provide feedback on this page

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