PPL and PRS licenses are required by any organisation who play music in a public place this includes pubs, clubs, bars, hotels (even if the music is also only played in staff areas which includes the radio in the kitchen).
Two companies administer and collect fees relating to public performance of music:
- The Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) collects royalties for the performers of music
- PRS for Music (PRS) collects royalty payments for the composers and writers of music
PRS and PPL have the full backing of the law in their business of setting tariffs, assessing individual premises and collecting any fees or royalties due. Not being properly licensed can lead to prosecution and substantial fines.
How much a pub is charged will depend on several factors including the type of performance, the size of the venue, if admission is charged etc.
The money PPL collects is distributed to musicians and performers and PPL have set charges for thing such as TV’s, radios, juke boxes and video players. PPL also applies charges for music and performance events such as karaoke, discos, live music events including folk nights, open mic nights and in certain circumstances impromptu performances.
If you rent a juke box, then the PPL will collect their fees from the rental company. You should ensure your rental company has the correct details for you and that they are paying the fees. The PPL licence for a juke box does not cover all events and equipment it only covers the juke box.
To find out what you should be paying to PPL click here
PRS for Music (formerly the Performing Right Society) collects royalties for the performers and the fees they collect are far greater than the PPL according to figures released by both companies.
You are responsible for paying their fees and they have sliding scales used to calculate what fees you should pay them these include such factors as if you charge admission or not, the size of the event the location of the event and so on. Factoring in the costs of PRS and PPL licences to entertainment programs is essential to ensure they are profitable
(Click here to download a copy of PRS tariffs for pubs). There are additional fees due depending on your use of music and other media covered by PRS visit their website for full and up to date details by clicking here
Both companies employ compliance officers who go around the country checking that premises are complying and paying their fees as required. They often rely on informants, check the press for music or events adverts including trade papers, check the web, use information from games machine companies and their own records of premises activities. PRS may also make appointments to come and watch some performances being held at your venue if you are a PRS licence holder, to check your licence is set at the appropriate level.
PRS also charge for TVs in the bar, staff areas (and guest rooms if you offer accommodation), and for any audible music or video rounds in quizzes.
If you think it’s worth trying to avoid having either of these music licences, think first about what it might cost if you are caught playing music without the proper licence in place. A Cumbrian venue was prosecuted in February 2014, the PRS bill of £21,000 on unpaid fees was further inflated by the judge awarding £60,000 costs against the venue. Having to suddenly find £81,000 would break most businesses!
Top Tip – if you take on a pub that has offered live music or karaoke etc in the past and you do not intend to continue with this licensable activity contact PRS and PPL to ensure your records are updated and you are being correctly billed.