Everything you need to know about playing music in restaurants


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Playing music in restaurants
Do you know the laws on playing music in your restaurant? Read PPL's sound advice on how to comply with music licensing laws.

When a diner enters your restaurant they come with an appetite for your food and for the experience you can provide. Music has the ability to create a fantastic atmosphere that contributes to a fun and enjoyable experience. By getting the ambiance just right, restaurants have the ability to ensure customer satisfaction, gain repeat business, build loyalty and generate positive word-of-mouth marketing. Before you press the play button in your restaurant, what are the questions you need to ask?

Do I need a music licence?
If you play recorded music in public, including playing a radio or TV on your premises, you will usually be legally required to have both a PPL and a PRS for Music licence. By purchasing the correct music licences, businesses can play recorded music to their benefit, whilst being confident that they are legally compliant.

PPL and PRS for Music offer music licences – which one do I need for my venue?
In most instances of recorded music being played in public, a music licence will be required from both PPL and also PRS for Music. PPL collects and distributes licence fees for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers, while PRS for Music collects and distributes for the use of musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.

Does this only apply for the radio?
Buying a CD or music download only allows you to use it for domestic purposes, such as listening to it at home for private enjoyment. If a business such as a restaurant plays music, whether it’s via CD, download, radio or TV, then PPL and PRS for Music licences are usually needed. These licences cover millions of different recordings and negate the need for a business to obtain individual permission from all the different copyright holders and performers involved.

Where does it cover you to play music?
PPL and PRS for Music offers a number of different licences depending on the type of use of music in restaurants. Licences are available to cover background music in dining areas, adjoining bars, kitchen and staff areas as well as licences for special events such as discos and DJ presentations and licences for hold music on telephone lines or music played via a jukebox.

Where does my licence fee go?
PPL ensures performers and record companies are being fairly paid for the use of their music. After the deduction of running costs, all PPL’s licence fee income is distributed to PPL’s diverse membership, which includes all the major record labels, thousands of independent labels and tens of thousands of performers and session musicians. Similarly, after the deduction of running costs, PRS for Music ensures songwriters, composers and music publishers are paid fairly and efficiently. There are a number of methods to track the music being played in different environments such as censuses on business, tracking radio play, downloads and streams. This allows us to distribute as accurately and efficiently as possible and in 2016, PRS for Music covered over four trillion lines of usage.

How much is the PPL licence?
The cost of your licence will depend on several factors, such as business type, size, activity and how you use recorded music in your venue. For example, the fee for background music within a restaurant will depend on the size of the area inwhich recorded music is audible. The fee for a restaurant with an audible area of up to 400 square metres is currently £133.12 per year.

How much is the PRS for Music licence?
The cost of your licence will again depend on several factors, such as business type, size, activity and how you use music in your venue. For example, the fee for background and featured music within a restaurant will depend on the seating capacity of the area in which music is audible. The fee for a restaurant with a seating capacity of up to 30 using only a radio is currently £128.13 per year. If your restaurant has an audible area of 50 square metres or less and only uses traditional radio or television broadcasts you may be eligible for a concessionary fee of 50% of the above.

How do I apply for a PPL and PRS for Music licence?
You can purchase a PPL licence for your venue easily online at​. Alternatively you can speak to a PPL customer service advisor on 020 7534 1070​ between the hours of 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday to discuss the most appropriate music licensing options for your business. For PRS for Music licences, please visit​ or​ call 020 7580 5544.  

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