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Radio licensing FAQs 

  1. Who are PRS for Music?
  2. What is the difference between PRS and MCPS?
  3. What do the PRS and MCPS Licences cover?
  4. Why do I need a radio licence?
  5. Do all radio stations need to have both a PRS and MCPS licence?
  6. I want to set up a radio station, where do I start?
  7. What type of radio licence do I need from PRS for Music?
  8. I have a PPL licence, why do I need a licence from PRS for Music?
  9. Are there any other licences from PRS for Music that I will need?
  10. We are a registered charity; do we still need to have a PRS licence?
  11. We are a speech only station, why do we need a licence to play music?
  12. What is NBR?

Who are PRS for Music?

PRS for Music is the trading name for The Performing Right Society Ltd (PRS) and The Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society Ltd (MCPS). PRS for Music manages common activities, services both societies and is jointly owned by them. The MCPS-PRS Alliance in 1997 with the PRS for Music brand adopted in 2009. PRS for Music represent the vast majority of music composers and publishers in the UK and, by agreement with overseas societies, most of the world. We issue licences to allow the recording, public performance and broadcast of our members’ musical works for most purposes (in accordance with the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act) and collect and distribute the royalties due to our members.

What is the difference between PRS and MCPS?

PRS – The Performing Right Society - PRS works for composers, lyricists and music publishers, who are its members, to license the public performance and broadcast of copyright works, collect the licence fees, assemble information about the use of that music, and then distribute the royalties.

MCPS – The Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society
Acting on behalf of its composer and publisher members, MCPS negotiates agreements with those who wish to record music, ensuring the copyright owners are rewarded for the use of their music. It collects and then distributes the “mechanical” royalties, which are generated from the recording of music onto many different formats, including CDs, cassettes, and videos, audio visual and broadcast material.

What do the PRS and MCPS Licences cover?

The PRS licence collects licence fees for the public performance and broadcast of musical works.

The MCPS collects and distributes 'mechanical' royalties generated from the recording of music onto many different formats. This includes the storage of music on a hard disk or server for direct to air broadcasts.

What an MCPS Radio Licence typically covers:
A mechanical licence is required for the right to record MCPS members’ repertoire into:

  • Server or other hard-disk storage for subsequent direct-to-air broadcast
  • Non-programme material, but excluding station idents
  • Programmes produced by the radio station for broadcast on its own station
  • Broadcast of production music sound recordings

However, advertisements are excluded from the mechanical licence and must be cleared individually. Use of commercial music in a sponsored item is excluded, where a reasonable person would associate the music with the sponsor. Association can be deemed to exist, for example, where there is a small or no gap between a commercial work and reference to the sponsor.

Why do I need a radio licence?

Copyright is the right granted by law to the creators of original literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works to ensure that copyright owners are rewarded for the exploitation of their works.

Any person who, without the permission of the copyright owner, does or authorises someone else to do any of the restricted acts may be liable for what is known as primary infringement of copyright. In addition, a person may be liable for secondary infringement if he assists in copyright infringement by such means as handling or selling infringing copies.

Do all radio stations need to have both a PRS and MCPS licence?

Yes, all radio stations must have a PRS and MCPS licence to be a fully licensed station.

I want to set up a radio station, where do I start?

The first point of call for all radio broadcasts, whether short or long term, is Ofcom (this excludes internet only radio stations). Ofcom are the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Ofcom will be able to advise you on what type of licence you will need, for more details go to their website: www.ofcom.org.uk

What type of radio licence do I need from PRS for Music?

All of our radio licences correspond with Ofcom’s. Therefore if you are granted a community radio licence, you will require a community radio licence from PRS for Music. This is a list of the Radio Broadcast Licences:

Commercial Radio Licence

For commercial stations broadcasting on AM/FM and for all DAB, Satellite and Cable radio services.

Community Radio Licence

For all community radio stations that have been granted a community radio licence by Ofcom.

Hospital Radio Licence

For all Hospital Radio Stations broadcasting on any platform.

Long Term Radio Licence

For long term restricted services e.g. student radio, prison radio and army base radio.

Short Term Radio Licence

For short term restricted services, including events, festivals and test transmissions that last up to 28 days.

I have a PPL licence, why do I need a licence from PRS for Music?

PPL and PRS for Music are two separate collection societies and represent different rights of the music. PRS for Music represents the copyright of the lyrics and composition of the music and collects the royalties for the songwriters, composers and music publishers. PPL represents the rights of the actual sound recording and collect the royalties for the performers and record companies.

PRS for Music can not advise you about PPL licences, for more information about PPL, please go to their website: www.ppluk.com

What rights are administered by PRS, MCPS and PPL?

Rights required Commercial music Production music
  To Broadcast To Copy To Broadcast to Copy
The Musical Work PRS MCPS PRS MCPS
The Sound Recording PPL PPL MCPS MCPS

Are there any other licences from PRS for Music that I will need?

You may also require a ‘Limited Online Music Licence’ (LMOL) if you will be simulcasting on the internet with interactive options, such as a ‘Listen Again’ feature. To find out if you require this licence, please contact radiolicensing@prsformusic.com

You will also require a PPS (Public Performance Sales) licence from PRS for Music if you are playing music on your premises. A radio licence does not give you permission to play music or your own broadcast in your offices or studio.

Likewise, if you are broadcasting a short term RSL for an event, the venue or event organiser must have a PPS licence to broadcast your RSL. For more information on this, please call us on 0800 068 4828.

We are a registered charity; do we still need to have a PRS licence?

Yes, there are no exemptions for charity radio stations.

We are a speech only station, why do we need a licence to play music?

You will need a licence to cover music played in adverts, station idents etc. If 100% of the broadcast is speech without adverts or idents then you will not need a licence from PRS for Music.

What is NBR?

NBR stands for Net Broadcasting Revenue. The definition of Net Broadcasting Revenue is 85% of the gross valuable consideration (before any deduction of agency commissions or any other deductions) whether in money, or money's worth derived and received by the Licensee from broadcasts pursuant to this Licence including, advertising sponsorship, subscriptions, donations, barter and contra deals, and other revenue directly related to the programmes broadcast.

External cost directly and reasonably incurred by the licensee in producing sponsored Outside Broadcast events may be deducted, providing that if such costs exceed the value of the sponsorship revenue the value of the said sponsorship revenue shall be nil. The amount by which such costs exceed sponsorship revenue may not be set off against other non-sponsorship revenue.

Can't find the answer to your question? Then please email: radiolicensing@prsformusic.com

Contact radio licensing

Radio Licensing
Broadcast & Online Licensing
PRS for Music
2 Pancras Square
London N1C 4AG

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PRS for Music members:

For royalty queries about works broadcast on radio please raise a query

 
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