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In 2016 the UK copyright bodies the PPL and the PRS announced they would join forces to issue a combined copyight licence for the users of music, such as pubs and restaurants. Under current laws, a separate licence must be obtained from each of the PRS and the PPL in order to allow performance of music in any licensed premises.
New combined PPL & PRS licences
for Community Radio
UK Music Performance copyright
When a business plays recorded music in public, in most instances a licence from both organisations is legally required. Whether you are a huge entertainment complex, or a hairdressers that has the radio or TV playing, or just have 'music on hold' facility on your telephone, that is deemed to be "using music" as its enhancing your customers' experience. At least one licence, and usually two, is needed for any use of music in business.
The rights to play music are administered in the UK by three bodies; the PPL, PRS and MCPS, although the last two combine their licencing and collection rights.
Performance Rights Society
If anyone else wants to use the work, especially in a business where they might benefit from it, the owner can decide whether they want it to be used and be paid for their use of it.
In practice 99% of musicians DO want their work used, and paid for. To put agreements in place for each play would be a nightmare, as there are so many broadcasters or other users and even more creators. For this reason 'blanket' licences are issued by collection agencies such as the PRS or PPL.
Recorded music is also used by many businesses to attract customers.
In most other countries, the copyright owners of music and lyrics have agencies who collect copyright fees.
In the UK the PRS act for composers and authors while those who hold the copyright of the actual sound recordings are represented by PPL.
For many years each levied their charges or licence fees in different way and always collected them separately.
"Both our organisations firmly believe that the proposed joint venture will be a positive development for both our customers and our members (the owners of recordings)," said Peter Leathem, the CEO of Public Performance Ltd. The CEO of PRS agreed and said that he felt the move will significantly simplify music licensing in the UK.
These businesses are also required in most countries to pay a royalty fee for the music they use. Radio stations must pay for their use of music, just like bars, clubs, restaurants, gyms, etc.
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The new PRS / PPL licence for community radio stations came into effect on 1 January 2017, for Ofcom-licensed AM and FM operators. Both PRS and PPL are committed to simplifying music licensing for their customers and this new joint licence represents the first joint initiative for the radio broadcast sector.
Previously, not-for-profit community radio stations were required to purchase two separate licences from PPL and PRS for Music to cover the inclusion of music within their broadcasts. By offering a joint licence, PPL and PRS for Music have further reduced the administration associated with licensing music rights for the community radio sector.
The joint licence is administered by PPL on behalf of both organisations and community radio stations can apply for and purchase their licence online via PPL’s website. In addition, as well as covering a station’s AM or FM broadcast, the optional right to license internet simulcasts and / or small scale DAB simulcasts is included within the joint licence.
Joint PRS / PPL licence
(new in 2017)
The new joint PRS / PPL licence for community radio stations can be obtained via the PPL website
If you have any questions about this licence, call PPL on +44 (0)20 7534 1422 or email ther community radio section on
The fees payable under the Joint Licence for Community Radio are the greater of the minimum annual fees or a percentage of the advertising and sponsorship revenue that the station generates each year. Details of the headline terms and applicable fees are available in the joint licence summary or in the full PPL and PRS for Music Joint Licence for Community Radio agreement.
Music Copyright basics
The laws of copyright are often described as complicated, but in reality they are pretty straight forward. The laws of almost every country say that, if you create something, such as a painting, a music recording, or a book, then you OWN it. The owner has the right to decide how and where it's used, which includes how to charge for its use. Letting anyone else hear it, or perform it, are known as rights, royalties or copyrights.
What's the difference between
PPL and PRS for Music?
PRS for music - collects royalties on behalf of performers and record companies,
PRS for Music - collects royalties on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. When a radio station includes recorded music in its over-the-air or online broadcast.
Until 2017 a seperate licence from both organisations was legally required. In 2017 this changed and a combined or joint licence became available.
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