How Can I Legally Play Music In My Business?

Background music in a store or business can help transform it, whether by creating a certain mood, encouraging customers to enter, or keeping staff motivated and happy. 

Music is a powerful tool in defining your brand and creating a welcoming atmosphere, but did you know that to play music in your business legally, you must have a music license? Failure to comply could result in a hefty fine for your business or even prosecution, so you must hold a valid music license before you play any music in your store.

This blog highlights why holding a music license could benefit your business, whether you run an office, store or bar. Read on to find out how to obtain one, how much you can expect to pay and how this little investment protects your business and benefits the music industry.

Table of contents: 

Can I play copyrighted music in my small business?

Do I need a license to play music?

How much does a UK music licence cost?

Why do I need a music license for my business?

Where does the money go when I pay for my business’ music licence? 

I’ve got my licence, am I now able to play music at my business? 

Can I play copyrighted music in my small business?

You can play copyrighted music in your business, whatever its size, as long as you’ve obtained a music license. 

Music copyright law concept. Headphones and judge gavel background

The music licensing system exists to protect the artists, songwriters and producers that create this music to ensure they are paid fairly, which is why you must have a music license for your business or premises if you intend to play copyrighted music legally. 

You can, however, play royalty-free music without a licence, as Creative Commons Licences cover this.

Do I need a license to play music? 

If you’re planning on playing copyrighted music in your business, then the chances are you’ll probably need a license. 

Businesses that need a licence are those that play recorded music in a public space, those that stage live music events in public, those that play live and recorded music and those that use sound recordings for theatrical production. 

A female singer is interacting with the crowd while a man plays an acoustic guitar.

The licence is called the Music Licence, and you can get yours from PPL PRS, the UK’s music licensing agency. You can also find out whether your business needs a licence; if it does, you can get a quote on the price. The price is determined by your venue size, how the music is used and the business sector you’re in. 

Here are some examples of the types of businesses requiring a music licence:

  • Shops
  • Beauty salons and hairdressers
  • Hospitality venues: pubs, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, hotels and guesthouses 
  • Sports grounds, gyms and other fitness facilities 
  • Factories and offices 
  • Cinemas, theatres, bingo halls and casinos 
  • Churches and halls
  • Social and members’ clubs 
  • Public transport 

How much does a UK music licence cost?

The cost of a music licence for business depends on the sector, and once this is defined, the licence costs depend on different tariffs. The process is designed to specifically consider the features of your business and what the music will be used for. 

A radio receiver and a cup of coffee on a wooden nightstand in the morning sun.

To find out how much a licence will cost for your business, you’ll be asked to provide information such as the square footage of your business, how many employees you have or, in the case of a live performance space, your venue’s capacity. You’ll also need to be able to provide details on how you intend to play the music, whether that’s live or via a streaming service. 

You can read more about costing examples for varying business types on the PPL PRS website. Still, as an example, a small office with less than four staff will pay just 33p per day for their licence, whereas a fitness instructor hosting multiple classes will pay around 73p per day. 

Your licence can be paid for a year in full or via monthly direct debit and remember, you’ll even need one if you only intend to play music for one evening. 

Why do I need a music license for my business? 

You need a music license for your business to play copyrighted music because you’ll be breaking the law without it. It’s against the law to use music without gaining permission from its owner, whether from the artist or the record label to which they are signed. 

If you continue to play copyrighted music without a licence, you could face a hefty fine of anything from £100 to £1000 or even be prosecuted. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to acquire your music license today!

Where does the money go when I pay for my business’ music licence? 

The sole purpose of music licensing is to ensure that artists aren’t left out of pocket regarding their hard work and talent.  

female singer performing on floodlit stage at large indoor concert

Music Licence and PPL & PRS take out their business costs; the remainder is distributed throughout the artists they represent.

PPL is responsible for the rights of over 130,000 performers or those with the rights to recording, whereas PRS for music looks after 160,000 songwriters, music publishers and composers. PPL and PRS collect the money owed to their artists via the music licensing setup. 

By paying for your licence, you are not only protecting your business, but you’re also allowing your favourite artists to make an honest living. 

I’ve got my licence, am I now able to play music at my business? 

Absolutely! Once you’ve paid for your music licence, you can legally play music straight away and will be covered for an entire year before your music licence needs to be renewed again.

So, now you’ve got your licence in place, why not update your background music system to make the most out of your business’s sound?

Shop for background music speakers and systems at Prebeat

At Prebeat, we’ve got an extensive range of background music bundlesspeakers and accessories to help you make the most of your sound. With industry-leading brands such as  Adastra included, we’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for discreet ceiling speakers that won’t upset the aesthetic of your business premises or something more elaborate, such as a 100v line audio system.

Explore our background speakers today, or contact us for help finding the right background music system for your business.  

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