UK’s performing and composition rights societies will tell you that if you are playing music in your business you will need to pay them for its use.
Or so they would like you to think.
Businesses using music for public performance in the UK have more choice than some realise. In actual fact, MCPS (used to be PRS) and PPL are not the only source of gaining legal access to music to play in your business in the UK.
Where an artist has a library of music they have created, all original compositions, that they fully own the recording rights and the composition rights, they can choose not to contract with MCPS and PPL for royalty collection.
The choice artists have is more diverse than just signing to PRS and PPL.
Alternatives exist (as in the case of Melody Pods) for collecting music used as background music in business locations. Additionally, with the increase in media consumption via the Internet there are a number of opportunities to earn royalties via video and music streaming platforms for which there are a number of options, although the collecting agencies tend to contract directly with the service provider rather than each artist.
So what does that mean for businesses wanting to play music in their business?
Well, you need to be sure that you identify the artist who’s music you are playing.
You need to be sure that the artist has either established a waiver from a national performing and composition rights society or societies (in the USA), or hasn’t registered at all in other countries and so is free to decide who else to sign to collect performing & composition rights on their behalf for that specific piece of music.
Alternatively, let a music service provider do all that, get the right music to your business and ensure all licenses are covered and are much cheaper than the expensive traditional option.
So yes, it is a bit too much to be checking every piece of music you play, which is why you need an established service provider who sources and contracts each artist, ensuring they have contracted and wavered or not registered their tracks with a performing rights society.
Not only that, UK business have grown an opinion that the societies themselves have a ‘strong arm’ approach to dealing with any business that isn’t using them to pay artists for music in business. Normally, societies find that businesses are actually unaware of their need to pay for licenses for the use of music so this is what they expect and perhaps why they have a reputation for assertive / assumptive approaches to businesses playing music not licensed by themselves. In addition, the societies come across many businesses that have chosen to license with alternative suppliers of legally licensed music such as Melody Pods.
Normally, what the alternative suppliers will provide is music that makes it painfully clear to the collection societies that they have no rights. For example, only using artists with music located in the USA that has waivered their rights for a company and/or channel or where an artist is located anywhere else in the world whom have no contract with a performing or composition right society. In these instances, the UK societies have to accept the artist’s choice as to how to manage their music use related earnings. Unfortunately it seems whilst there has been waiver documentation in the past in the UK, it seems this is ignored which can cause the business owner unreasonable distractions from their day time work.
A friend of my own had a stroke a few hours after coming off the phone from PPL so I know well how much intentional and inconsiderate pressure can be added to the working day to hard working businesses owner who hasn’t done anything wrong.
The law is clear as it stands today, as are the contracts. The society representatives assume if you are playing music you are doing so illegally if you have no contract with them. However the society’s representatives are often unaware of the alternatives where artists can waiver their collecting services (for USA based artists), or have no contract with them or any other collection agency in the first place. This often results in an ongoing stream of demands and implied intents by the societies to take non-payment further, even though a business may provide invoices, licenses and waivers.
Eventually the letter, red notices and debt collector letters stop coming but it isn’t fun for the business owner along the way.
Of course, if you are using other music not supplied by Melody Pods you will need to look to who ever supplied you with that music for your rights to play without paying the societies in the UK. Additionally, if you have played music before subscribing to Melody Pods you may still owe the societies outstanding licensing fees.
So whilst UK societies in some cases refuse to acknowledge an artist’s legal right to manage their copyrights and assign someone else, other than the society we at Melody Pods have designed our music library so that if you are in the UK there is a slight difference in the music choice that will be available to you. This ensures that no UK artists signed to the societies for other types of license are being used by you (even though they have a legal right to do so).
Whilst I speak to many customers who feel this is unfair on those UK artists, and that they as businesses shouldn’t need to answer the UK society’s probing questions about who they are using and what music is being played, we believe by providing this information it will simplify the issue of any outside body interfering and making a nuisance of themselves at the cost of your time and effort.