Please note, copyright law is technical and uses terms and concepts with which most people are not familiar. PRS for Music tries to explain the legal requirement in clear terms for its customers. Please refer to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 for full details or seek independent legal advice.
The cost of your Music Licence can depend on various factors:
View more detailed information, including tariffs.
To find out if you need a licence and to get an accurate quote, please call us on 0800 068 4828.
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Although you may have other licences, a Music Licence is an entirely separate legal requirement to your TV Licence. A Music Licence is required regardless of any other type of licence you may own.
A TV licence permits you to receive certain broadcast signals. It is not concerned with copyright material or public performance rights.
View more information on other licences.
PPL is the representative body for record companies and performers. PRS for Music represents composers and music publishers.
Although you may have other licences, a Music Licence is an entirely separate legal requirement to your PPL Licence. A Music Licence is required regardless of any other type of licence you may own.
PRS for Music licenses the public performance of original musical works however performed (live or otherwise) on behalf of the composers, writers and publishers of music. Entirely separate to this, PPL licenses the public performance of sound recordings on behalf of record companies and the musicians on the recording.
Public performance includes music performed by playing TV and radio channels, including copyright music heard as part of advertisements, theme songs and channel ‘ident’ music. Sports and news channels normally include some music use.
PRS for Music has been licensing music use since its formation in 1914.
Any good business advice service will be able to advise you on the requirement for a Music Licence.If you require further information about your licensing requirements and copyright law, you could visit www.businesslink.gov.uk or www.ipo.gov.uk.
The UK Intellectual Property Office was formally known as The Patent Office.
PRS for Music has been licensing music use in offices and factories for decades, since after its formation in 1914.
A test case in 1943 upheld PRS’s right to license public performance in the workplace. In the Court of Appeal cases in 1943, Ernest Turner Electrical Instruments Ltd v PRS and PRS v Gillette Industries Ltd, the court concluded that "workpeople are an audience". It was held that in both cases the performance of PRS music was in public and the employer’s appeals were dismissed.
We advise any businesses using music in the workplace in any way to contact PRS for Music to discuss their requirement for a licence. PRS for Music will help you ensure that you have the right licence in place to lawfully perform and authorise the performance of our music in your premises.
In certain limited cases, at our discretion, PRS for Music may assess that no licence fee is payable.
If you are the only person working on a premises (lone worker), and music is not audible to anyone who visits the premises (such as your clients), then PRS for Music does not charge a licence fee.
It’s always best to contact PRS for Music and discuss your music use to be sure that a licence fee is not payable.
We advise any businesses using music in the workplace in any way to contact PRS for Musicto discuss their requirement for a licence. PRS for Music will help you ensure that you have the right licence in place to lawfully perform and authorise the performance of our music in your premises.
In certain limited cases, at PRS for Music’s discretion, PRS for Music may assess that no licence fee is payable.
If you, or other members of your family, are working in a defined workspace in your own home, PRS for Music does not charge a licence fee. However, if you make music available to colleagues or clients visiting your home, a licence fee may be payable.
PRS for Music cannot and does not differentiate based on the ‘employment status’ of music users. A Music Licence will generally be required to authorise all public performances of music.
The ownership of equipment does not affect the requirement for a Music Licence. If our music is performed in public, a Music Licence is required. The premises owner or business owner may be legally liable for any unlicensed public performances of copyright music that take place on the premises.
We advise any businesses using music in the workplace in any way to contact PRS for Music to discuss their requirement for a licence. PRSfor Music will help you ensure that you have the right licence in place to lawfully perform and authorise the performance of our music in your premises.
Where music is used in the workplace by individual employees or workers solely by means of Personal Portable Devices (such as MP3 players) with headphones PRS for Music does not charge a licence fee. Any music must only be audible to the employee or worker to whom the Personal Portable Device belongs through a headset attached to that device and not to any other individual in the workplace.
Studies have shown that music can provide many benefits when used effectively in a business. For example, in the workplace music can increase staff productivity and boost employee morale.
Read more about the benefits of music in the workplace
As with any licensing requirement, it is the responsibility of the music user to understand and meet their legal obligations.
Within the UK, everyone is required to comply with copyright law (as defined in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988).
If music is used in your premises, it is your responsibility to ensure that the correct licences are in place so that you and/or any person working on your premises can perform copyright music in public lawfully.
A music user, such as the proprietor of a business, requires a copyright licence covering the duration of copyright music use in their premises. Music users can choose to stop using copyright music on their premises and will not require a copyright licence once performances have ceased. However, they may be required to pay a licence fee to cover any copyright music use to that date.
Copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (and other intellectual property). It allows an original work to be considered a property that is owned by somebody. The framework for Copyright Law is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 ('the Act').
In music, copyright begins automatically once a piece of music is created, and documented or recorded (eg. on video, tape or CD or simply writing down the notation of a score).
If you own the copyright you possess the sole authority to:
In the UK, music copyright generally lasts for a period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies. If the music originates from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), the copyright lasts for as long as the music is protected by copyright in its country of origin, provided that the length of time does not exceed 70 years.
If you want to pay your PRS for Music invoice you can visit prsformusic.com/payments
or call PRS for Music Payment Hotline: 0345 300 70 90
Alternatively a cheque payable to Performing Right Society Ltd can be sent to the address below. Please write your account number on the back of the cheque and enclose the payment slip from your invoice or statement.
PRS – PAYMENTSPO BOX 4575WorthingBN11 9AR
Some PRS for Music account teams can take payment over the phone, if you choose, but this is entirely optional for customers. If you wish to pay by cheque, you may do so. If you have any concerns, do not provide your details and call our Customer Service team on 0345 309 3090.
If you want to pay your PRS for Music invoice, you can pay over the phone by calling:
PRS for Music Payment Hotline: 0345 300 70 90
Or a cheque payable to Performing Right Society Ltd can be sent to the address below. Please write your account number on the back of the cheque and enclose the payment slip from your invoice or statement.
PRS for Music never insists that you make payment over the phone. Some PRS for Music teams can take payment over the phone, for your convenience, but this is entirely optional for the customer. If you have any concerns, do not provide your details and call our Customer Service team on 0345 309 3090.
Also see Do I have to give my credit card details over the phone?
PRS for Music has received a report, as yet unconfirmed, that some people not connected with PRS for Music are claiming to be from PRS for Music in order to gain access to premises. PRS for Music staff always carry ID and you can call and check any details through our Customer Services team on 0345 309 3090.
Filmbank is a totally separate organisation to PRS for Music. A Filmbank Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL) is legally required for film screenings outside cinemas and the home, other than where an exception applies (such as certain educational uses).
You may also need a licence from MPLC. Whether you need a Filmbank or MPLC licence depends on which film you are screening and which market sector your business operates in. Please contact Filmbank or MPLC to confirm which licence you need to obtain.
Contact Filmbank on 0207 984 5950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Contact MPLC on 01323 649 647 or email email@example.com
The Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC) is a totally separate organisation to PRS for Music. The MPLC Umbrella Licence ® is legally required for film screenings outside cinemas and the home, other than where an exception applies (such as certain educational uses).
You may also need a licence from Filmbank. Whether you need a MPLC or Filmbank licence depends on which film you are screening and which market sector your business operates in. Please contact MPLC or Filmbank to confirm which licence you need to obtain.
Contact MPLC on 01323 649 647 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Contact Filmbank on 0207 984 5950 or email email@example.com
It is the music user’s responsibility to ensure they have the correct licences in place before using any copyright material. The higher royalty rate helps cover our costs of identifying and contacting businesses and organisations using music without a licence.
Most of our tariffs have a higher royalty rate, which applies if the music user has not obtained a licence before starting to play music in their premises or at their event.
The higher royalty rate is the standard rate plus 50%, and applies to the first year of the licence only. The higher rate is not a statutory fine.
The higher royalty rate may be applied whenever the user has not applied for a licence in advance. For a limited period, the higher royalty rate is being waived in the following circumstances (note: does not apply to corporate customers with five or more premises or licences for events):
PRS for Music reserves all its rights, including the right to change its policy from time to time with regard to the application of the higher royalty rate.
Where a music user has refused to obtain a licence and continues to use our music and we have to take further steps to protect our rights, the higher royalty rate will be applied to the first year of licence.
It is the music user’s responsibility to ensure they have the correct licences in place before using any copyright material.
If you have been using music without a licence, you may be liable to make a payment to cover the years you have been using music without a licence (up to 6 years based on the Limitation Act).
If a music user voluntarily contacts us to arrange a licence or, when we contact a music user for the first time to arrange a licence and the music user agrees to take out our licence:
For a limited period, charges for prior years use are being waived in the following circumstances to assist music users to get their licences up to date (note: does not apply to corporate customers with five or more premises or licences for events):
PRS for Music reserves the right to claim charges for up to six years of prior use and the right to change its policy from time to time with regard to the application of charges for prior years.Where a music user has refused to obtain a licence and continues to use our music and we have to take further steps to protect our rights, we will pursue payment of royalties to cover all years that music has been used (up to 6 years).
Yes, in addition to the United Kingdom, PRS for Music does issue licences for performances of its music in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This is authorised by legislation specific to those islands. Please contact us if you need further information about this.
If you are visually impaired and wish to receive our documents, such as our terms and conditions, in large print, please speak to one of our advisors who will be able to send you the information in your preferred font size.Please call our customer service team on 0800 068 4828 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
Music is performed ‘in public’ when it is performed outside what could be regarded as the domestic circle or home life. This includes music performances – of live and recorded music or music from TV and radio – in premises from concert halls to corner shops.
For example, the composer’s audience in a workplace would be people at work, whether in an office or staff canteen, a factory or the kitchen of a restaurant. A workplace is obviously not a domestic environment and therefore a Music Licence is required if our copyright music is being used.
The term 'our music' refers to the music controlled by PRS for Music.
The majority of copyright music from the UK, and around the world, is controlled by PRS for Music in the UK. This includes everything from advertising jingles to entire symphonies.
A Music Licence grants you the legal permission to play millions of songs, saving you the time and money needed to gain permission from the music creators directly.
When a music-creator becomes a member of PRS for Music, they give us exclusive permission to license the public performance of their works. Therefore, you can’t get a licence to play those works from anyone else.
A licence from PRS for Music covers the majority of copyright music being played, but there is some music which is not covered by your PRS for Music licence, or for which you do not require a PRS for Music licence.
A licence from PRS for Music does not cover:
If you believe you may be using music which does not require a PRS for Music licence, you can call us for advice and further information about the music which is covered by our licence. If you wish to use music, which is advertised as not requiring a licence from PRS for Music, you should take reasonable steps to ensure that the music is correctly licensed. Please note that some music which is not controlled by PRS for Music may become controlled by PRS for Music, if the rights holder assigns their rights to PRS for Music or one of our affiliates at a later date.
The composer’s audience isn’t just people sat in an audience at a formal concert. Their audience includes anyone listening to their music outside the domestic circle or home life.
There is no statutory minimum of people required to constitute an audience. However, in some cases, PRS for Music does not charge a licence fee to workplaces with a single (lone) worker.
PRS for Music currently has over 40 tariffs applying to different types of premises and events. The tariffs take into account the nature and extent of music use in different premises and events.
PRS for Music and its members can determine the fee for their licence. However, wherever possible, we agree our charges with national trade associations or representative bodies from particular sectors.
In addition, PRS for Music tariffs and the terms and conditions of its licences are subject to referral to and scrutiny by the Copyright Tribunal.
Yes. Whenever our members’ copyright music is played outside the domestic environment, a licence from PRS for Music is required. Please visit our charity and community page for more information.
In fact, one of the most important cases, which set copyright precedent, concerned a Women’s Institute meeting, where a performance was given by members to other members of the group (Jennings v Stephens 1936). The court decided that this was a public performance. From that judgement it emerged that, for copyright purposes, every entertainment should be regarded as public unless it takes place within the domestic circle or home life of the audience. The judgement made it clear that, for example, the following considerations are immaterial: the nature of the premises and audience; whether admission is free or conditional upon payment of an annual subscription; whether the audience is limited to members of a club or other organisation; whether the performers are paid or unpaid and whether they are members of an organisation.
Until January 2011 Sections 67 and 72 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 exempted third sector organisations from a requirement to hold a Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL) music licence in certain circumstances. These exemptions did not apply to PRS for Music licensing and no longer apply to PPL licensing.
For more information about PPL licensing the not-for-profit sector please visit ppluk.com or contact the organisation on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firstly, don’t worry. As a charity or community premises, if you contact us now, we’ll sort out your licence and we’ll waive any outstanding charges for prior years.Normally, if you have been using music without a licence, a higher royalty charge applies in the first year of your licence. This amounts to the standard charge plus 50 percent. You may also be liable for charges for music used in prior years. However, we are currently offering a special arrangement for charity and community premises to allow them to get their licences up-to-date. If you contact us now, and assuming we haven’t contacted you previously about a licence, we will waive the higher charge and any outstanding charges for previous years. Conditions apply so please contact us for more details.
If you are having real financial difficulty, please let us know. We will assess your charges and discuss payment options with you.
We know that some of our customers may need extra support to understand what may seem like complicated information. Please make us aware of your needs, and we’ll do everything we can to help. For example, if you find it difficult to download web documents, we can send them to you by post.
Please note, this information relates only to the public performance of music, as covered by a public performance music licence. Other uses of music, such as copying, broadcasting and online use, require other licences. We recommend that music users obtain professional and business advice for details of extent of their licensing requirements.