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The Licenses Needed to Play Music in a Business

Music is played across many types of businesses to create a desired atmosphere, entertain customers, put people at ease, and much more. But what a lot of businesses don’t realise is that they must obtain the necessary music licenses to do so legally.

With the rise of venues simply using consumer services like Spotify or Apple Music, licensing companies are now cracking down.

Compulsory Music Licenses for UK Businesses

In the UK, it is a requirement that you obtain licenses from both PRS for Music and PPL to play music in a business. This is the same for both retail and hospitality venues - who are ultimately gaining from the music by providing a better experience for customers - and for venues that don’t generally receive visits from customers, such as office environments. For the latter, employees are counted as customers when it comes to licenses, and it is still an infringement of copyright to play music without these in place.

Firstly, a PRS for Music license is required to ensure that the creators of the music you’re playing - songwriters, composers and publishers - receive the appropriate payment for their work. PRS works on their behalf to collect and distribute money from the use of their musical compositions to them. It’s also worth noting that a PRS for Music license covers live performances too, should you ever hold these at your venue.

Similarly, your PPL license ensures that the PPL organisation knows to collect and distribute money for the use of music on the behalf of the performers and record companies - securing the payments they deserve for their hard work!

The cost of these licenses varies depending on factors such as the type of venue and its capacity. To find out more and get a better idea of the cost for your sector, visit the PRS for Music and PPL websites.

Consumer Music Platforms

Once you have your PRS for Music and PPL licenses in place, you can now play radio, CDs and live music at your venue all day long!

What you must still consider, however, is that music streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music or Pandora are only intended for consumer use - not for businesses. These platforms do not cover the mechanical rights that allow someone to create and distribute copies of the music. Therefore, while broadcasting a homemade playlist through a sound system may seem like an easy option, this is still illegal.

In fact, using a consumer music streaming platform in a business is considered a criminal offence, for which a business owner could face several years in prison if found guilty. For this to be taken to court, any person simply has to provide sufficient evidence.

In addition to the quality and technical advantages obtained, this is one reason why many businesses turn to a professional background music provider like Startle for their solution.

Professional Background Music Providers

With a professional background music subscription to a service such as Startle Music, the mechanical (copying) rights will be included. These protect the rights of songwriters, composers and publishers for the reproduction of their music, whether as a physical product, for broadcast or for online use.

A subscription of this type is a safe and simple way to not only guarantee you are legally complying, but to benefit from better quality, more function, data capture and marketing opportunities over the equivalent consumer services.

In order to secure a high-quality, legal music system for your business, do your research and decide on what it is you want to achieve with your background music - this will help you to find the right solution for your brand!


Whatever your chosen music solution, when all of the necessary rights are properly taken care of, you can enjoy fully legal music and entertain customers in your venue without the worry of a visit from a licensing organisation.

If you have any further questions or need assistance on the subject of music licensing, feel free to Contact Us!

Alternatively, visit the Startle Music page to learn more about Startle's flexible music solutions for businesses.