Licensing music

We can help you find the right licence for your business, organisation or production company. Whether it's for a local business or national TV channel, we have a range of licences to suit your music use.

Using music in your business

If your business is playing music for the benefit of your customers or employees, you must have a music licence. This includes music that is:

  • part of a TV programme
  • on the radio
  • played from CDs, downloads or streaming services
  • played by a DJ
  • performed live

A PRS for Music licence is additional to any government licence you have set up for your business. Even if you weren’t aware of this when setting up your business, you are still legally responsible for obtaining a PRS for Music licence.

What is a 'public performance'?

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.

When does Copyright begin?

In music, copyright begins automatically once a piece of music is created, and documented or recorded (e.g. on video, tape or CD or simply writing down the notation of a score).

What rights does a Copyright owner have?

If you own the copyright you possess the sole authority to:

  • Copy the music
  • Issue, lend or rent copies to the public
  • Perform, show or play the music in public
  • Communicate the music to the public (i.e. broadcasting it via TV, radio, Internet etc.)
  • How long does Copyright last?

In Malta, Cyprus and Gibraltar copyright generally last for a period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies. In Bermuda and The Bahamas this is 50 years.

Music on your TV or radio

TV and radio broadcasts often contain our members' music, so you'll need a PRS licence if you're using a TV or radio at work.This includes digital streaming and on-demand programmes. Even if you already pay your TV provider or pay for a TV licence, you'll still need a PRS for Music licence. 

Recorded music

If your business plays any type of recording in a public or staff space, you'll need a PRS for Music licence, including any music that's played by a DJ, downloaded or streamed.

Live music

Even if you pay a band or singer to perform, and even if they are one of our members, you will still need a PRS for Music licence. 

Your first-year licence

It is the music user’s responsibility to ensure they have the correct licences in place before using any copyright material. Some of our tariffs apply a higher royalty rate for the first year to customers who have been using music without a licence. This higher rate  helps to cover our costs of identifying and contacting businesses and organisations using music without a licence.

How tariffs are set

PRS for Music tariffs are structured to ensure they can cater for all types of businesses and performances. These tariffs cover anything from licensing a large club to a small hairdresser. Each one is tailored to cater for the needs of a particular business sector. The main aim when setting a tariff is to ensure that our charges for music played or performed in public are fair to both the music creators and our customers. For example, we don’t charge the same fee for music used in a small venue compared with a football stadium or arena.

If you play music without a licence

If you choose to stop using copyright music on your premises, you will not need a licence from this moment on. However, you will still be legally required to pay for any previous use of copyrighted music.

If you need a licence, please get in touch so you can discuss this with your local PRS licensing representative. Their details are below.

What music does a PRS for Music licence cover?

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:

  • Music which is out of copyright. Please note that music, where the original composition is out of copyright, may be performed in a copyright arrangement and, in this case, a licence may be required. Details about the arrangement are normally available on the musical score or with the music recording you have purchased.
  • Copyright music where the rights holders have not assigned or licensed the performing rights to PRS for Music or to one of our overseas affiliates (whose rights we represent and control in the UK). To use this music, you may need to get permission from the rights holders directly, or the rights holder may have given a licence to a music service provider.
  • “Copyright-free” music where the music is in copyright but the rights holder does not require the user to obtain any additional licence. This is most common where copyright material is used for educational purposes.
  • Music which is specially written for dramatic performances, such as musicals, operas and ballets (also known as Grand Right works). To use this music, you need to get permission from the rights holder directly, which is usually the music publisher.

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.

Using music in TV, radio and film

If you're a broadcaster or producer and would like to use our members' music, you'll need a licence. Please contact your local representative for the territory where you're intending to broadcast or produce your work from.

Releasing music products

If you're reproducing our members' music and making this available to the public, you'll need a licence. This includes the production of CDs, DVDs, downloads, on-demand content and digital streams. Please contact your local representative for the territory where you're intending to release.

PRS managed territories