Licences

Music Licences PRS/PPL

Simply owning a record, tape or compact disc does not give the automatic right to publicly perform it.  To use commercial sound recordings in a club’s premises two types of licence are required:

  • Performing Rights Society (PRS) – who work on behalf of the music composers.
  • Phonographic Performance Licence Limited (PPL) – who work on behalf of the UK record companies.

Both of these organisations own entirely separate copyrights and both licences are required where sound recordings are used in public.  A private performance is limited to where an event is held strictly within the family or domestic circle.

PPL works on behalf of nearly 1,500 different UK record companies which mean that they control the public performance and broadcasting rights in some 13,000 labels.  Member companies include all multi-nationals, independent and small specialist producers.  PPL’s covers all areas of music and probably encompasses over 95% of all sound recordings commercial available in the United Kingdom, including imports and compilations.  If you use sound recordings in public then you are legally obliged to obtain a licence from PPL.

The PRS is an association of authors, composers, publishers and other owners of musical copyright established to protect and enforce their rights both in the UK and abroad, to restrain unauthorised use of their work and to collect fees for permission to perform such work in public.  The fact that no charge for admission is made to a musical function, or that at a concert artists give their services free, does not relieve the club from liability for any breach of performing right.

The cost of these licences will vary from club to club depending on its size and the frequency sound recordings are used.  Generally the PRS licence is considerably more expensive than the PPL licence.  The cost of the licences increases if the recording is not simply used as background music but for featured attractions to the premises and as a dance.  In such cases the cost of the license increases with average attendance and hours of use of the recording.  The licence will also increase according to the number of televisions, jukeboxes, CD players etc in the club.