Do I need a licence to play music in my business?

There are many regulations and laws that small business owners need to be aware of and one that we see many fall foul of is not having the correct licences to play music on their premises, writes Mandeep Kaur, a commercial lawyer at Tallents Solicitors in Newark.

Small business owners can be particularly vulnerable when it comes to meeting all the legal regulations required, which is why having a supportive commercial lawyer on hand can be very useful.

Business owners have so many daily demands on them: keeping customers and employees happy, keeping HMRC happy and paying their bills and taxes on time, that sometimes, it’s easy to overlook perceived smaller, yet still important legal requirements, which could easily see them charged with a crippling fine.

Are you playing music in your business?

One such area that often catches small business owners out is the playing of music on their premises.

With the advent of digital music, it’s so easy now to play music that you’ve bought and downloaded from iTunes, or to stream music from Spotify or Apple Music playlists so that your employees or customers can better enjoy the environment that they are in.

But this is a legal minefield for businesses who may not realise that they need a music licence to do so.

 When do I need a licence for music to be played in my business?

When you buy and download music, then you are actually purchasing a licence for personal use in a non-commercial environment. This means if your employees listen to their own downloaded music on their headphones in your offices, but the music is not broadcast or played in public, then you, as a business owner, do not need a licence.

However, it is illegal to play music to your employees or the public in a commercial environment (office premises or a shop, for example), whether it’s via a phone system, radio, disc, TV or a Bluetooth speaker.

As this is now considered to be a public performance, then you will need a Public Performance Licence (PPL) from a performing rights organisation (PRO), which grants you the relevant copyright to play the music to a wider audience.

Without a music licence, you are infringing copyright if you play live or recorded music in public and as such, you could be sued for damages.

How do I get a music licence?

This is quite straightforward; the UK’s two music licensing societies have joined forces to create TheMusicLicence and make it easier for businesses to get a PPL for the playing of, or performance of, music in a public environment.

Go to PPLPRS.co.uk and you can apply online. The costs will vary depending on the type of business you have, how you intend to use the music (for example as hold music on your phone system) and the type of social activity the music is used for. If you have any queries, then our commercial lawyers at Tallents can help you with your application.

Please call 01636 671881 to arrange an appointment with myself or one of our commercial solicitors to discuss your business’s music needs.

At Tallents Solicitors, we understand all of the legal issues that small businesses face on a day to day basis and we are here to help make the process of staying on the right side of the law much easier. If you have any concerns, then our commercial law specialists at Tallents can advise and support you.