What’s the difference between PPL and PRS for Music?

PPL vs PRS for Music

PRS for Music – Performing Rights Society for Music.. PPL – Phonographic Performance Limited


But what’s the difference?!

The UK music licensing industry is headed up by two major companies: PPL and PRS for Music, both coming from humble beginnings, their task was to ensure a fair deal for all that produce, write and manage music – from the performers and record companies to the songwriters, composers and publishers.

It used to be the case that there were two separate music licences for this, one called a PPL licence for the music artist and recording company and one called the PRS licence for the original publisher of the song, however since 2018, PPL and PRS have come together to create one sole licence called TheMusicLicence. What this means for the consumer is one contact, one invoice and ultimately – one licence.

So from PPL & PRS to ‘TheMusicLicence’ now?

Having listened to you, their consumer, PPL and PRS understood that consumers want a more straightforward approach to buying the licence necessary to play music legally in public, resulting in the two companies coming together to form PPL PRS Ltd – a joint venture that offers only one double-up licence, called TheMusicLicence, instead of the previous two that you had to seek separately from the two companies.TheMusicLicence logo

The two companies, PPL and PRS for Music, still exist and haven’t completely merged together as one organisation, but have more formed a partnership between the two. The two organisations will continue to distribute the fees that they collect through TheMusicLicence to those who make, create and distribute music. This licence, as is was PPL and PRS for Music, is still a necessity and a requirement for any business or public domain that wishes to play music in ‘public’, thanks to copyright protection that protects everyone in the hierarchy of music production.

Though rare, exemptions do exist, and there are many situations in which you wouldn’t need TheMusicLicence, examples include:

  • *if the music is used for educational purposes, such as during a lecture or as a teaching example.
  • *if you already have permission from the copyright holders – for example, if a local band have personally submitted their self-published EP to you for playing in your shop.
  • *if you are only briefly playing music in a shop to ensure that equipment is in working order.
  • *if you are a lone worker at your workplace and have no other person on the premises.

But for commercial music that is within the control of PPL and PRS (nearly all of it), being verified for TheMusicLicence is an important cornerstone to the legality of playing music in your venue in public.

If you’re looking for additional information on how to acquire TheMusicLicence or our very own legal background music provider, you can browse our most recent blog post – A Brighter Future for Background Music Law.

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