Lead Forensics
Prettys Solicitors Ipswich

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Music Licence - What is it and do I need one?

If your business wishes to play or perform music in a public place, permission is required to do so by the copyright holders. The copyright holders would be those who create, record and publish the music you want to play. Does this mean you need to speak to Adele if you want to play “Someone like you” or to Sam Smith if you play “Writing‘s on the Wall“?” Well no, as fortunately the large majority of music is managed by PPL and PRS under a joint licensing scheme known as “TheMusicLicence”. Previously, the PRS and PPL were separate organisations and so two licences used to be required.

As a business, you will therefore need to obtain TheMusicLicence which will grant you permission to play the vast majority to music. As an example, if your premises plays music to customers on a shop floor of less than £100sqm or less then the cost is likely to be around £317 (exc VAT) per annum. However, this fee can vary depending on your premises type and characteristic’s so always contact the PRS/PPL direct for an exact quote. The fee you pay in to the music licence is then distributed by PPL and PPS to the creators of the music you play, including the songwriters, composers and publishers.

TheMusicLicence is also separate from your entertainment licence, which is issued and regulated by your Local Authority and allows you to provide entertainment at your venue but may impose restrictions on the hours during which such entertainment can take place or the number of people allowed to attend.

What if you don’t have the licence?

Much like a TV Licence, it is your responsibility to ensure you are properly licenced. If you play or even perform music in public without first obtaining TheMusicLicence your actions could amount to copyright infringement under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 Act.  If you fail to have a licences when one is required, you could be liable to copyright infringement and receive a legal action from the artist, the producer or PRS/PPL on their behalf.

So what if you want to have a TV playing at your business and already have a TV licence?

Well, the TV licence only allows you to receive the broadcast signal for the television. You will still need to obtain TheMusicLicence if you are going to use the TV in a public place to allow you to play the music intertwined within TV programmes and adverts.

What if the music you wish to play is for the benefit of the employees only?

Usually, even if through the radio, you are required to obtain the relevant TheMusicLicence. Playing music outside the domestic setting, music will be classed as a ‘public performance’ and therefore even if it’s just for the employees benefit you will still need TheMusicLicence for the permissions required to do this.

What about music for a one-off event?

Even if you just want to play recorded music for a one-off event, such as a DJ night or Disco, you will still need to contact the PRS/PPL. They do have a Specially Featured Entertainment (SFE) tariff just for these types of events. 

Overall, the PPL and PRS have created an easy to use system for all to use, making the process to obtain a music licence for all businesses and workplaces smooth and simple. Please make sure that if you are playing music through a radio, TV or any other performance means, you obtain TheMusicLicence first.

For more information or to obtain a licence, please visit https://pplprs.co.uk/what-is-themusiclicence/.

If you need any advice on the regulatory requirements for your premises, contact the Commercial Property Team at Prettys by emailing CommProp@prettys.co.uk.

By Ellie Claffey and Rebecca Cleal

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