Why Do I Need A PPL Licence?

Like many people, you’ve probably heard of PPL (once known as Phonographic Performance Limited) and you’re a little unclear as to why you actually need it or should use it. Isn’t it just another licence fee that you have to pay? Is it even legally required?

How does PPL work?

Founded in 1934, PPL collects royalties on behalf of performers and record companies who have their music played in public. Without the PPL licence, to legally play music in public, businesses would need to contact the performers and record companies individually asking for legal permission to play their music in public. This, of course as you can imagine, can be a very time-consuming job to do… It’s a far simpler solution to pay a PPL licence fee which permits you, the licence holder, to play any music within PPL’s repertoire. This covers the vast majority of recorded music that is available in the United Kingdom.

PPL collects the money from all of the licencees in the UK and calculates the amount which the PPL member (performer, record company, etc) has earned, and distributes the earnings to the PPL members deducting tax and running costs. The royalty amount is affected by things like how often a single recording has been played in public and the estimated size of the public audience who have heard it. And, of course, is divided between the rights holders and eligible performers as per the PPL distribution rules. The performer royalties can then themselves be divided between the listed performers on the recording, and is usually based upon the artist’s contribution to that recording or some other private agreement.

When you apply for a PPL licence, you will have to answer a few questions about your business, including:

  • the sort of activity that takes place at your business
  • the size of the area in which the music will be heard
  • how will you be playing the music to the public

All of the above points and more will factor in to how much your business’ PPL licence will cost, so that you only pay for what you need to.

Why do I still need a PPL licence with soundjack?

Although soundjack allows businesses to play background music to the public and includes “dubbing fees” as part of the licensed background music service, you may still be required to pay PPL and PRS fees to cover you for playing the music provided by the soundjack service in public. soundjack are a PPL licensed background music supplier, so we can cover the cost of paying royalties to the artists, publishers and record labels through our fully licensed commercial audio system, similar to how someone might pay for a CD or MP3 of a song. However, we cannot cover businesses for the playing of the recorded music to the public, which is where the site needs to pay the PPL SITE licence – this covers the site for playback – whereas we cover the track for making a copy on the playback device. We are licensed to include all of the music within PPL’s music repertoire on the soundjack background music system. By using an audio system that is not PPL licensed, you may be participating in copyright theft. This includes most domestic playback system and services such as iTunes MP3 players and Spotify, neither of which are PPL licensed.

Although you do have to pay a licencing fee, depending on how you use the soundjack service, you could make back the costs of the PPL licence charge plus profit!

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