Do I need a music license?

Do I need a music license?


I'm trying to get to the bottom of a possible scam, but am struggling to get anywhere! We were contacted by cold-call about a Music Licence by PRS. They said we required a music licence if we play the radio in reception and if any of our demo DVD's had background music on them (even if they're official licensed products?)


PPL is a music entertainment service company licensing recorded music on behalf of over 3,500 record companies and 40,000 performers.

It was set up in 1934 by the record industry to grant licences for the broadcasting or playing of sound recordings such as CDs, tapes and records in public. Whenever recorded music is played in public, whether it’s on the radio, in a bar or club, a PPL licence is required.

When do I need a licence?

Under UK copyright law (the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988) a PPL licence is required when sound recordings subject to our control are played in public.  By ‘public’ we mean any event except a family or domestic gathering.  Many people ask, “If it’s my CD, why can’t I play it whenever and wherever I want?”  Owning a sound recording does not give you an automatic right to play it in public.

How much does a licence cost?

The cost of a PPL licence depends on how the music is being used.  For example in a dental surgery waiting room/reception area, the cost is a flat rate fee of £91.02 per annum excluding VAT.

Who should take out the licence?

PPL usually licenses the occupier of the premises if the sound recordings and the equipment are not rented.  If you hire a music system, juke box and/or sound recordings from PPL-licensed operators to provide background music, the operator or supplier should obtain the licence on your behalf.  If you are holding any other events such as discos, you yourself may also need an extra licence direct from PPL.  In some cases we can also license the organiser of an event.  All the people involved have an equal responsibility under copyright law to get a licence.  If anyone has any doubts about who should apply for it, they should contact us.

Do I require a licence to show broadcast TV in my pub?

With effect from 31 October 2003, UK copyright law was changed so that a PPL licence is technically required when sound recordings are played in public via a radio or TV broadcast.  However, due to the statutory process that PPL has to follow, PPL has not yet been able to update its Waiting Rooms/Reception Areas tariff (which is the tariff that applies to background music played in dentists' surgeries).  If a dentists' surgery is only playing recorded music via a radio or TV broadcast, it therefore does not currently need to apply for a PPL licence, but should be aware that it will require one in due course.

The advice on the DCMS website relates to premises that are licensed under the Licensing Act 2003. Under the Licensing Act a premises, normally a pub or restaurant etc requires an additional licence if they have what is known as regulated entertainment (Discos live music karaoke etc) but if they only have a television or radio or background music they do not need this additional licence. This is why the DCMS site says they do not need a licence but what they mean is a licence under the Licensing Act. Irrespective of whether they need a licence under the Licensing Act they may still need a licence from PRS and PPL.

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