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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 public.
  • 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:

Joint licences:

  • 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 Music website.
  • 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.

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 and parades.
  • 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 music?

  • 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 authority concerned).
  • 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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