If you use, play or listen to recorded music in your business or organisation, the chances are you need a music licence.
Under The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, permission is needed from the relevant copyright holders – those people who create music – in order to play or perform music in public.
Obtaining TheMusicLicence gives you this permission, in relation to the vast majority of commercially available music. This ranges from grassroots and independent artists and composers through to the biggest names in the business.
It means you don’t have to spend your time and energy contacting potentially hundreds of thousands of rightsholders individually to get permission to play or perform their music in your business.
How is the cost calculated?
The cost of TheMusicLicence depends on a number of factors including your type of venue and how you use music in your day-to-day operations, whether that be for background purposes or specially featured entertainment.
Read more about how the cost is calculated.
What usage does TheMusicLicence not cover?
- TheMusicLicence gives you the right to play or perform music in public, including certain related ancillary rights. It does not give you the right to, for instance, broadcast music, make it available online or copy it on physical products such as CDs, DVDs or digital devices. These activities are licensed separately by our parent companies PPL and PRS for Music.
TheMusicLicence gives you the right to use music that PPL and PRS for Music license in the UK. Although this will cover the vast majority of commercially released music available, there may be some music which is not covered by TheMusicLicence, or for which you do not require TheMusicLicence. Examples include:
- Music in which the rights are held by someone who is not represented by PPL or PRS for Music in the UK. Whilst PPL and PRS for Music each represent many thousands of music creators, there are some music rights holders who choose not to license their music in this way. This is sometimes referred to as “copyright-free” or “royalty-free” music. To use their music, you may need to get permission from those rights holders directly or through a third party. Please note that music not currently covered by TheMusicLicence may become covered at a later date, if the music rights holder becomes represented by PPL or PRS for Music.
- Musical works which are specially written for dramatic performances, such as musicals, operas and ballets (also known as Grand Rights works). To use this music, you need to get permission from the rights holder directly, which is usually the music publisher.
- Music where the period of copyright protection has expired for both the song and its recording (and therefore no longer requires permission from the rights holder in order to play or perform it). Please note that copyright in a song may expire at a different time from the copyright in the sound recording.
If you believe you may be using music which does not require TheMusicLicence, please call us for advice and further information. If you wish to use music which is advertised as not requiring TheMusicLicence, you should take reasonable steps to ensure that the music is correctly licensed.
Discretionary Policies and Statutory Exemptions
- PPL and PRS for Music each separately operate a number of discretionary policies setting out circumstances in which, whilst legally entitled to do so, they choose not to apply a charge. Due to the specific nature of these policies they will be applied depending on certain music usages and business. There may also be situations where the law permits music to be used without requiring TheMusicLicence, such as where music is only performed or played for instructional purposes in an educational establishment.
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