What you need to know about playing music in your hospitality business

By Sarah Mitchell

- Last updated on GMT

Follow this checklist before you hit the play button. Thinkstock.
Follow this checklist before you hit the play button. Thinkstock.

Related tags: Music

Music has the ability to create an atmosphere that can contribute to a fun and enjoyable experience in your restaurant, hotel or pub, but before you hit the play button, follow this checklist from Sarah Mitchell at PPL to ensure you're going about it the right way. 

Do I need a music licence?

If you play recorded music in public, including playing a radio or TV on your premises, you will usually be legally required to have both a PPL and a PRS for Music​ licence. By purchasing the correct music licences, businesses can play recorded music to their benefit, whilst being confident that they are legally compliant. 

PPL and PRS offer music licences – which one do I need for my venue?

In most instances of recorded music being played in public, a music licence will be required from both PPL and also PRS for Music. PPL collects and distributes licence fees for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers, while PRS for Music collects and distributes for the use of musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. 

Does this only apply for the radio?

Buying a CD or music download only allows you to use it for domestic purposes, such as listening to it at home for private enjoyment. If a business such as a restaurant plays music, whether it’s via CD, download, radio or TV, then PPL and PRS for Music licences are usually needed. These licences cover millions of different recordings and negate the need for a business to obtain individual permission from all the different copyright holders and performers involved. 

Where does it cover you to play music?

PPL offers a number of different licences depending on the type of use of recorded music in restaurants. Licences are available to cover background music in dining areas, adjoining bars, and kitchen areas as well as licences for special events such as discos and DJ presentations and licences for hold music on telephone lines or music played via a jukebox. 

Where does my licence fee go?

PPL ensures performers and record companies are being fairly paid for the use of their music. After the deduction of running costs, all PPL’s licence fee income is distributed to PPL’s diverse membership, which includes all the major record labels, thousands of independent labels and tens of thousands of performers and session musicians. 

How much is the PPL licence?

The cost of your licence will depend on several factors, such as business type, size, activity and how you use recorded music in your venue. For example, the fee for background music within a restaurant will depend on the size of the area in which recorded music is audible. The fee for a restaurant with an audible area of up to 400 square metres is currently £130.51 per annum. 

If your restaurant has an audible area of 50 square metres or less and only uses traditional radio or television broadcasts you may be eligible for a concessionary fee of 50 per cent of the above. 

PPL licences are available to buy online at​ or by calling 020 7534 1070 between the hours of 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday. 

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