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Licensing music FAQ 

When do I need to obtain a music licence?
If you play music in your business, or want to include it in your product, you need clearance to do so from the owners of that music. PRS for Music represents the owners and can get you the clearances you need. We provide access to the world's music in the most efficient way.

If you want to check the repertoire covered by MCPS and/or PRS please visit ISWC's database: http://iswcnet.cisac.org 

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How much does a licence from PRS for Music cost?
Licence fees are really competitive. The cost will be determined by how you intend to use the music. Visit our Music for business FAQs to find out more.

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Do I need a PPL licence as well?
PRS for Music administers the performing right in musical works such as songs or instrumentals. Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) licenses similar rights, but in relation to copyright ‘sound recordings’ rather than original musical works.

So, if you play CDs, tapes or records you may also need a PPL licence as well as a licence from PRS for Music. PPL represents record companies and performers. PRS for Music represents composers, songwriters and music publishers. 

Obtaining a licence from PRS for Music ensures that royalties are paid to those that have written, composed and published the music, while obtaining a PPL licence will ensure that royalties are paid to the artists that have recorded the music and the record labels that own the recording.

If you are unsure of your responsibility please do feel free to contact us for advice.

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Does it matter what music I use, or how it’s played?
PRS for Music controls more than 10 million songs, so if you’re using music it’s highly likely to be music within copyright and within our repertoire. However, if the music is out of copyright or royalty free, you do not require a licence. If in doubt, please check. 

Whether you play music through the radio or TV, on a CD or DVD or are having karaoke or live performances, you need a music licence.

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Do I need a music licence if I already have a TV licence?
A TV licence permits you to receive certain broadcast signals. It is not concerned with copyright material. If you play copyright music in public by any means, you are likely to need a music licence. PRS for Music licenses the public performance of music that is included on TV, such as theme tunes, adverts, film scores and TV programme music.

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I want to use a specific piece of music to promote my business or use in an advertising campaign. How do I get permission for this?
You would need the permission of the publisher to do this. PRS for Music can help identify who this might be. Get in touch with us for further help.

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Where can you obtain sheet music?
PRS for Music does not sell or hold any catalogues of printed sheet music, so we are unable to help you with these enquiries.

To locate sheet music please use the Music Publishers Association's Printed music enquiries hotline on 0906 163 1998. Calls are charged at 60p per minute.

Further information

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When am I exempt from getting a licence?
Please visit our 'Do I need a licence?' page to find further information on when there is no legal requirement to pay for music usage and information on our non-charging policies.

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What other licences might I need?
If you are using music publicly then it is likely you will require a licence from PRS for Music and a PPL licence. If you are hosting an event it’s best to check with your local authority who will be able to advise on any further licences required.

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How does PRS for Music go about licensing businesses?
We will contact organisations that do not have a licence from PRS for Music to see if they need one. We don’t always know if an organisation needs a licence without asking. We may contact a business by post, email, telephone or in person. If we need to meet with you in person, we will always contact you first to make an appointment. 

When we carry out licensing campaigns, we will always send you a letter first. We also place details of our current licensing campaigns on our website with additional information to help you. If you receive a telephone call from us without having received an introductory letter first, you can ask for this information to be sent to you before talking to us.

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What happens if I don’t get a music licence?
PRS for Music takes all reasonable steps to ensure those playing copyright music in public are made aware of the need for a licence.

We have representatives around the UK who visit public premises to assess potential licensing requirements, and we regularly contact businesses to help ensure they are not infringing copyright.

Failure to obtain a licence for the use of music in public may result in civil action against you for copyright infringement, and you may be liable to pay damages and costs.

Under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, a licence from PRS for Music is required by law to play music in public.

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What is a public performance?
Music is deemed to be performed in public when it is played outside what is regarded as the domestic circle or home life. This includes live and recorded music performances, or music from TV and radio, in premises as diverse as concert halls and corner shops.

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Who can I contact if I have a complaint?
If you have a complaint about our public performance licensing, please see our complaints procedure in our Code of Conduct.

If your question isn’t answered here please visit the Music for Business FAQ’s  

View our production music FAQs

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