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Is your business’s background music legal?

Mar 29, 2017 11:15:28 AM published by James Luck


  • Do you play tunes using Spotify?
  • Use an iTunes playlist?
  • Have the radio playing?
  • Enjoy playing someone’s CD collection?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above – and your business doesn’t have a valid licence from Spotify or iTunes AND the PPL and PRS for Music – you’re breaking the law and could be liable for a substantial fine.

Spotify and iTunes

Both Spotify and Apple confirm in their terms and conditions that their services are for your personal, non-commercial use which you promise to agree to.  So, technically, you shouldn’t be playing it.

PPL or PRS for Music?

Unsure whether you need a licence from the PPL or PRS for Music?

You’re likely to need both, if you play music in a public space.

  • PPL collects and distributes money on behalf of record companies and performers
  • PRS for Music represents songwriters, composers and music publishers

Ultimately, if you play music in public without a licence, you’re infringing copyright and – as the Government website points out – could be sued for damages.

What kind of penalties could you face?

If you play music without the right licence or licences in place, you’re opening your business up to hefty fines, bans or worse…

  • For example, the owner of the Newport nightclub the Birdcage was hit by a £20,000 fine – along with a suspended prison sentence – for playing music without a valid PPL licence in June 2015
  • And popular Swindon nightspot MECA was fined £2000 in December 2016 for a similar offence
  • Plus, the House of Hair and Beauty – a hairdressing salon in Preston – was given a £1,500 fine and banned from playing music for failing to have a valid PPL licence in July 2010.

How much does a licence cost?

The cost of the licences vary, depending on the type and size of your business.

To find out exactly what your licence will cost, you’ll need to register on both the PPL and the PRS for Music websites.

Feeling confused?

It should be simple, but unfortunately there’s a myriad of conflicting material in the public domain, which means many businesses are confused as to what they can play and which licences they need but we can confirm

  • You cannot play Spotify and iTunes
  • You need a PPL and PRS for Music licence

Make life easy with soundjack

Don’t worry though, we’re committed to cutting through the noise and making life as easy as possible for you.

  • We’re a fully licensed background music supplier
  • That means all the music on our system is licensed for commercial use

But to play that music legally, you’ll still need to get those licences but we can help you manage this process.

Got any questions? We’d love to answer them so get in touch at 0207 644 8880

Topics: Background Music, Music licences, Spotify, iTunes, PPL, PRS for music

Written by James Luck