TheMusicLicence: What are the alternatives?

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If you’re on this page you are probably asking yourself a couple of questions, such as ‘Are there alternatives to TheMusicLicence?’, ‘What music can I play without a licence?’, or ‘What is royalty free background music and is it more suited to my business?’

We understand that when it comes to your business you need to do your due diligence. This includes exploring and choosing the right music options. Currently the only alternatives to TheMusicLicence are royalty free music services, playing music that is out of copyright or to not play music at all.

However, just because there are alternatives out there doesn’t mean you should compromise on quality, risk copyright infringement or avoid playing music altogether.

From playing royalty free music to music out of copyright, you have some options. However, TheMusicLicence offers a vast, comprehensive repertoire of music for your business. It allows you to legally play music for employees and customers through the radio, TV, other digital devices, and also includes live performances.

Avoid playing music in the workplace

You can choose to not play music in your business and, as a result, you will not have to obtain TheMusicLicence. Although you may save on costs, not playing music may have an impact on your business. There are a number of benefits to playing commercially recognisable and loved music in your business.

According to our 2023 surveys, 87%1 of employees believe playing music creates a positive working environment and 82%2 of customers say background music in businesses creates a better atmosphere.

The benefits of music for your business:

Benefits for customers:

• Creates a better atmosphere
• Creates a more welcoming environment
• Reduces awkward silences
• Creates a more comfortable and relaxed environment
• Influences brand perception
• Encourages social interaction

Benefits for employees:

• Improved productivity, focus and motivation
• Better employee engagement
• Support with employee retention
• Positively impacts health & wellbeing
• Creates a team spirit
• Increases your business employability
• Creates a positive working environment
• Alleviates boredom

  1. We surveyed 500 people in the UK who are working in offices and workplaces currently playing background music. Survey conducted via Attest in January 2023.
  2. We surveyed 500 people in the UK to discover the impact of listening to background music when purchasing goods and receiving other services from various sectors. Survey conducted via Attest in February 2023.

Using royalty free and copyright free music

When you hear ‘royalty free music’ what do you think? It’s not uncommon for people to believe that royalty free music is free of charge, whereas typically there will usually be a fee involved.

To better understand royalty free music and why fees may still apply, you’ll need to know the difference between what royalty free music is and what copyright free music is.

  • Royalty free music – Allows you to use music without having to pay on-going royalty payments to the artist or rightsholder (for more information on what royalties are please visit and You will however usually have to pay a one-off fee or sign up for a subscription.
  • Copyright free music – This is where the artist or rights holder of the music has waived their ownership of the material, or the copyright has expired and the music work enters the public domain.

For instance, imagine you are searching for royalty free background music, and you have found a song you like. The song has a copyright owner, the owner grants you permission to use the song. They then provide you with a royalty free licence for a one-off purchase. You now have access to play one song legally with no copyright infringement claims. However, as you can see, the song itself is not actually copyright free. If you want to use more than one song you may have to do this multiple times, which can be time consuming.

Copyright free music, on the other hand, can be used without any fees and restrictions due to the rightsholder waiving ownership of the material.

In the rare case an artist or song is not included in PPL or PRS for Music repertoire and the rights holder has waived their rights to the ownership of the song, this would be free to use and a music licence would not be needed.

TheMusicLicence: Better choice of music

Why waste valuable time searching for unfamiliar music that may not suit your business when you can effortlessly enjoy all your favourite artists and songs with TheMusicLicence?

With TheMusicLicence, your business will have access to play virtually all commercially released music  – this includes your favourite artists, bands, composers and songs. This vast, diverse repertoire could enrich your customers and employees experience and add substantial value to your business.

Did you know over 57%6 of people that we surveyed agreed that playing popular, well-known music in workout areas, cafes and communal spaces creates a better atmosphere than playing royalty free music?

Whether it’s singing along to the lyrics or dancing to your favourite melodies, your most loved songs can bring joy and evoke memories, stir emotions, and create a sense of nostalgia. Our repertoire provides a reassuring backdrop that can uplift the mood and be a source of entertainment in your establishment.

By not having TheMusicLicence you won’t be able to play instantly recognisable music for your staff and customers due to not having permission granted via the copyright owners.

We understand that you want to provide your customers with the best experience at your business, that’s why TheMusicLicence allows you to have the flexibility and control as to how you want to present your business to customers and staff with our vast repertoire of music.

See our musical repertoire offering below:

Copyright organisation Members/artists Musical works

TheMusicLicence: Simple and easy to use

From what music you can play to how you can play it. Choose a system or platform that best serves your business.

If you’re using a royalty free music provider, usually, you will access music through digital platforms, including apps, computers, and other devices. However, it’s important to note that these platforms may not encompass other systems that will allow you to conveniently play and enjoy music. This includes radio and TV , live music and, in virtually all cases, physical formats like CDs, MP3s and other recordings.

Many businesses stream music, however, the adaptability and convenience of tuning into your favourite radio station whilst in your workplace, watching sports on your TV in your pub or hearing the warm character defining crackles of vinyl in your barber shop might not be available to you with royalty free alternatives.

With royalty free background music you’re likely to choose your music via genre or environment on your digital platform. This may sound convenient; however, these premade playlists may not always align with your desired atmosphere and limit the control you have over the ambiance you wish to create for both your customers and employees.

Cost comparison

What’s the cost comparison between royalty free background music and music that is covered by TheMusicLicence? Well, this may surprise you, but the cost is a lot closer than what you might think and will be dependent on the royalty free music supplier.

Firstly, the cost of TheMusicLicence for a particular business or organisation depends on a number of factors, such as, square meterage, number of employees, or venue capacity and the ways you use music. In most cases, it will be similar for royalty free music suppliers. If you have multiple premises this will also be taken into account.

If you are playing music in your business without a licence or avoiding paying for a music licence due to the cost, we encourage you to reach out to us. We are here to help you find a suitable solution. By collaborating with us, we can identify the areas of your business that would greatly benefit from the introduction of music. Additionally, we offer the option to spread the cost of TheMusicLicence by setting up a Direct Debit and paying in convenient instalments. Check out TheMusicLicence cost page for more information on our pricing.

  1.  An office or workplace with up to four employees could play music for £121.77 providing music is not audible to customers or other visitors to the premises. (+VAT) per year. Cost examples subject to change from March.
  2. Survey of 250 people conducted in Nov 2022 for music listening preferences of gym goers via Attest.

TheMusicLicence vs Royalty Free Music

Whilst royalty-free music may appear more affordable in some cases, TheMusicLicence offers a repertoire of well-known artists and songs along with flexibility in your application to play music. Below are some key benefits and limitations to each option, allowing you to make an informed decision that aligns with your specific needs and goals.

Feature TheMusicLicence Royalty Free Music
Play PPL and PRS for Music repertoire music
Possibly (depending on the scope of the service)
Play music streaming services
Possibly (depending on the scope of the service)

TheMusicLicence: Supporting music creators

We understand that you want those who are involved in creating the music you enjoy to be fairly paid for their hard work and talent. This includes performers, record companies, songwriters, composers and publishers.

After our business costs, all the music licence fees we collect go back to PPL and PRS for Music who then process, allocate and distribute royalties every quarter to the music creators they represent. In comparison, royalty free music providers typically distribute funds back to music creators at an undisclosed rate.

If you want to understand more about where your royalty payment go you can check out PPL and PRS for Music’s annual royalty distribution at &

Get TheMusicLicence

Discover how music could help you to turn it up and make your business even better!

Please contact us or complete our Get TheMusicLicence Form to arrange a quote.

Call us on 0116 290 0525

(8am-6pm, Monday-Friday)

TheMusicLicence FAQs

  • What music can I play with TheMusicLicence

    Obtaining TheMusicLicence gives you permission to play the vast majority of commercially available music. This ranges from grassroots and independent artists and composers through to the biggest names in the business

    PPL and PRS for Music represent millions of musical compositions and recordings from UK artists and music creators. They also represent international artists and music creators through over 100 affiliated societies, that all operate under reciprocal agreements, in over 150 different countries around the world.

    The royalties collected are passed to the relevant overseas society who will in turn pay the artists and music creators. So, if the international music is covered by a reciprocal agreement, you will require TheMusicLicence.

    You can use the PPL and PRS for Music repertoire searches to see what music is covered.

  • How can I play music in my business?

    You can play music in your business in different ways. Whether it’s playing background music for your employees and clients via digital devices or by tuning into the radio. You can play music in the following ways:

  • Where do the proceeds go?

    After our business costs, music licence fees are distributed to those involved in making music via PPL and PRS for Music.

  • What music can I play without a licence

    There are certain circumstances under which you will not need to obtain a licence to use music in your business. Your music usage may not require a licence and in some situations you will not require a licence where members have chosen to waive their rights. These scenarios are as follows:

    Where there is an exemption in UK copyright law which permits the use of copyright music without the consent of the rightsholder.  Information on the exceptions to copyright can be found on the UK Government’s website.

    When your music use in very specific circumstances is covered by a PPL PRS non charging policy.

    When you choose to play royalty free or copyright free music only.

  • What is the difference between copyright free and royalty free music
    • Royalty free music – Allows you to use music without having to pay ongoing royalty payments to the artist (for more information on what a royalty is please visit
    • Copyright free music – This is where the rightsholder to the music has waived their ownership of the material, or the copyright has expired, making it free to use in public.
  • Who are PPL and PRS For Music?

    PPL and PRS for Music are both collective management organisations. They issue licences and collect royalties for certain uses of copyright-protected music, on behalf of their many hundreds of thousands of members. They then distribute those royalties to members.

    PPL represents record companies and performers for the use of recorded music, while PRS for Music represents songwriters, composers and music publishers for the use of musical compositions and lyrics (for both recorded music and live performances).

    PPL and PRS for Music set up PPL PRS Ltd to offer a single joint music licence, on behalf of them both, for playing and performing music in public (see ‘What does playing music ‘in public’ mean?’).



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