Understanding music licensing
If recorded or live music is part of your event, you
will need a licence. Music licensing is intended to ensure that the
owners of copyrights on musical works are compensated for certain
uses of their work.
There are two different music licences that you will need to
ensure you are covered for:
- A PRS for Music licence
covers the musical compositions and lyrics when played in
- A PPL licence covers the use of recorded music
on behalf of record companies.
These licences ensure that royalties are distributed to the
musical artists you are listening to. The majority of the time,
both will be needed.
When organising an event, you must check whether the venue you
are holding your event has licensing for music. If the venue does
hold both a PRS for Music licence and a PPL, this will cover you.
If you are looking to buy music licences to keep your hall covered
for future events, both licensing authorities offer specific
discounts for not-for-profit groups:
- Community buildings: From 1 January 2012, PPL and PRS for Music
are operating a joint music licence for community buildings such as
village halls. This is being administered by PRS for Music and full
details (including prices) can be obtained through the PRS for
- Amateur sports clubs: Historically, many amateur sports
clubs did not require a licence from PPL when using
recorded music. Following a change in the law, amateur sports clubs
are now, in almost all cases, required to hold a PPL licence as
well as a PRS for Music licence. From 1 January 2014, PPL and PRS
for Music have introduced a new joint licence for eligible
amateur sports clubs which is administered by PPL.
- Charity shops: From 1 January 2012, all charity shops will be
licensed under PPL's existing Shops & Stores tariff but as a
discretionary licensing policy PPL will extend the concessionary
discount under that tariff to all small charity shops.
- Churches: A PPL licence for such uses can be obtained via
Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). Charges are
based on the size of the congregation and start from as little as
£21.68 for an annual licence.
PRS for Music:
- Events run by charity and community groups - we offer a
discount scheme for small charity and community events that meet
certain conditions. We also offer guidelines for charging carnivals
- Healthcare premises - we choose not to charge for some areas
within hospitals and clinics that use music during treatment. Other
healthcare premises such as GP and dental surgeries are not
eligible for this policy.
- Christian churches, church halls and Christian bookshops are
licensed on our behalf through Christian Copyright Licensing
International. Large ticketed events and any church that hosts more
than six concerts or recitals per year should contact us directly -
as should religious buildings of other denominations.
- Schools - our tariff for primary and secondary schools includes
music used by not-for-profit community groups with up to 40
audience members, at no extra charge to the school. If you are
holding a larger event in a school please contact us directly.
- Members' clubs and sports clubs - not-for-profit clubs that are
run by committees (such as working men's clubs, amateur sports
clubs and political and social clubs) require a licence under our
members' club tariff - Effective 1st August 2014 and
should contact us directly for more information.
Are other licences needed for an event featuring
- No TEN
licence is required for amplified live music and/or recorded music
if your event is held on local authority premises between 8am-11pm
and the audience is no more than 500 (the organiser must get
consent for the performance on the relevant premises from the local
- If your audience exceeds 500, a Premises Licence is required.
These can take up to two months to come through from the time you
submit your application. The cost depends on the non-domestic
rateable value (NDRR) of your venue (go to 2010.voa.gov.uk). The fees are on a sliding
scale from £635 down to £100. There is also an annual fee (between
£70-£350). A condition of obtaining a Premises Licence is that a
newspaper advert must be placed (allow around £250 for this).
Contact your local licensing officer as early as possible.
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