What is PPL and do I need a PRS Licence? These are just some of the questions you’re asking yourself if you’ve landed on this page. Fear not, we’ll explain everything.
When you’re starting a business, the music you play is probably going to be the last thing on your mind. You’ve got stock to order, relationships to build and marketing to plan – why on earth would the music worry you?
You may already be aware that some businesses need a licence to play music within earshot of customers. If you’ve landed on this article, then you’re wondering if you need a licence for your business. The answer is no – but only under certain conditions.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of music licencing and what your options are if you want to avoid paying for one.
PPL and PRS for Music – What’s the Difference?
Despite being commonly-used terms up to this day, PPL and PRS for Music merged into one standalone licence in 2018. This new licence is known as ‘TheMusicLicence’ and was an attempt to simplify the process of playing music at a business.
Originally, PPL was designed to give fees to the artist and recording company of the song, and PRS for Music gave money to the original publisher – hence the decision to pay all three in one go with TheMusicLicence.
When do I Need a PRS Licence?
Despite popular belief, you only need TheMusicLicence to play artists who TheMusicLicence / PPL / PRS for Music represent. If you were to play royalty-free music in your shop you wouldn’t need to bother paying for a licence.
Obviously royalty-free music doesn’t include the chart hits or allow you to play the radio, so it’s not an option for everyone. However, if you’re more interested in just having some music playing for the background then royalty-free music can be a great option to hear up-and-coming artists before anybody else gets to.
How Much does TheMusicLicence Cost?
This depends entirely on the size of your business premises in square meters and the nature of your business. Larger businesses tend to pay a lot more for their music licence, on the assumption that more ears will be hearing the music.
We ran a test and looked up the TheMusicLicence tariff for a small shop – under 100 square meters, which is the smallest size available. The quote came back at a whopping £368 per year. There are countless things that could buy a small business, and music isn’t the most exciting of the bunch.
For some people, this is just a cost of doing business. Others, however, don’t want to pay this fee at all – so what can be done?
What Alternatives to TheMusicLicence are available?
Aside from enjoying a silent shop, there are numerous sources of royalty-free music available. Full disclaimer: our royalty-free radio service is one such source and we’re rather proud of it!
Option One: Specialist Royalty-free CDs and MP3 files
You’ll find these all over the internet, Amazon and eBay tend to carry a lot of these. They tend to be a bit hit and miss, in my experience; for every good song you find, there’s another that sounds like lift music being played through a Gameboy.
The prices of these CDs vary a great deal, too. They can range from £2 on eBay to £50+ elsewhere.
Websites are also cropping up which allow you to download royalty-free MP3 files – these are generally more favourable because you can preview the music before paying for it. Often though, you’ll pay a high price per song and this route can get very expensive, very quickly.
Option Two: YouTube
YouTube can be a great source of royalty-free music if you go to the right channels / playlists. It’s a vast community full of creators, it’s quick-loading and provides nice visuals if you’re playing audio from a TV. There are some cons to using YouTube for royalty free music though.
- Ads will often run between videos, making it obvious you’re using YouTube. Worse still, you run the risk of an ad for your competitor playing.
- Playlists tend to run away after a period of time. The auto play feature means you might end up playing copyrighted music in your business, and if a licence officer happens to be paying a visit at this time you won’t have a leg to stand on.
- Royalty-free doesn’t necessarily mean profanity free. Unless you plan to listen ahead to every song in the playlist, you may well be broadcasting swear words to your customers – not an issue in a bar. Possibly an issue in a toy shop!
Option Three: Streaming Services
Again, full disclaimer: This is a service we provide, so we may be a bit biased. There are numerous benefits to streaming services, provided you’re using a good one: You just have to press play and let the service take care of everything else for you. This is perfect if you’re run off your feet regularly.
Streaming services tend to be a monthly fee, though many seem to cost more than TheMusicLicence does – which very much defeats the purpose.
Our PRS-free music streaming service offers you unlimited access to three different royalty-free radio stations – each with a different genre – and streams 24/7 every day of the year. We add new songs every week and they’re all checked for profanity. Sign up for a no credit card free trial to see for yourself. The best part? You’ll save £248 a year compared to the price of a PRS licence.
We’ve helped shops, restaurants, bars, salons and virtually every other type of retail establishment save some real money just by playing more interesting music at their business.
When you first landed on this page you were still asking yourself ‘do I need a PRS licence?’ In reality, no shop needs a music licence unless they want to play artists represented by PRS / PPL / TheMusicLicence.
We’ve covered some of the alternative methods you can use to save yourself some money as a small business owner. What will you spend it on if you opt to go the royalty-free route?