FAQs music licensing

Music always livens up a PTA event, but how can you make sure you're playing it legally? We spoke to PPL PRS to find out about TheMusicLicence

When do we need a music licence, and what does it cover?

If you're playing background music in schools and colleges for extra-curricular or entertainment activities, you'll usually need TheMusicLicence. It allows you to legally play all types of music for employees, children or visitors at your school through the radio, TV, other digital devices and live performances.

It means you don't have to spend your time and energy contacting potentially hundreds of thousands of rightsholders individually to get permission to play or perform their music in your business.

But don't we need a PPL and PRS for Music licence?

Previously, organisations had to obtain separate music licences from PPL and PRS for Music. However, they have now come together to form PPL PRS Ltd and launch TheMusicLicence.

TheMusicLicence is issued by PPL PRS and gives you permission to play and perform music that is subject to The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Different events and scenarios may need either PPL tariffs, PRS for Music tariffs, or both to be included in TheMusicLicence.

PPL PRS collects licence royalties from UK businesses and organisations on behalf of their parent companies, PPL and PRS for Music. PPL then distributes these music licence royalties for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers, while PRS for Music distributes music licence royalties for the use of musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.

Do we get the licence from our local council?

No, most schools should already have TheMusicLicence for their premises, issued to them through CEFM (Centre for Education and Finance Management). This covers the music usage for their non-curricular activities: for example, school theatre productions, race nights, festivals, fundraisers, PTA events, parties and fetes, provided all profits made during these events go entirely to the school.

How long is TheMusicLicence valid for?

The music licence issued to schools through the CEFM is a rolling licence. This ensures all schools are continuously licensed for their music usage. However, if the school is hosting one-off/single/casual events with music, PPL PRS can arrange for TheMusicLicence that will cover the duration of that event.

Will we need TheMusicLicence if our venue already has one?

If a school is hosting an event, any use of music by a PTA will usually be covered under the licence issued from CEFM, provided all profits made during this event go entirely to the school.

For events taking place in other venues away from the school, such as village halls and community buildings, it is the responsibility of the venue to ensure that it is correctly licensed for its music usage.

How much will it cost and who should apply?

The cost of TheMusicLicence depends on a number of factors, such as the type of activity and how you use music in your day-to-day operation. There are different tariffs available, which vary according to the different types of music use. It is the responsibility of the school or venue to ensure that the premises is correctly licensed.

Are there any situations when we wouldn't need a music licence?

TheMusicLicence covers virtually all commercially released music available - millions of songs and recordings, not just from the UK, but from around the world. However, if you play or perform music outside of PRS for Music's or PPL's repertoire then you may need an additional licence or permission from the relevant copyright owner(s).

Are other licences needed for an event featuring music?

In addition to TheMusicLicence, you may also need a temporary event notice or a premises licence for an event. This is issued by your local authority and gives you permission to provide entertainment on your premises. It may be subject to certain conditions, such as time restrictions or the number of people attending. For more information, visit gov.uk/temporary-events-notice.

Further information

For more guidance, visit pplprs.co.uk or call 0800 0720808. Always contact PPL PRS if you are unsure about whether you need TheMusicLicence.

The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.