Have you have a call from PRS or PPL asking for payment of the use of music in your business? Its a bit of a shock at first we agree. Read on to find our what PRS or PPL won’t fully explain about your position if you are playing music, and what options you have for your next steps.
MCPRS (Previously PRS) and PPL are royalty collection agencies in the UK for collecting the royalties for the use of the composition and performance of a piece of music in public places (amongst other uses) respectively.
If you have played music from the radio, an Internet radio, from a CD that has commercially available music (e.g. chart music, famous bands and artists) then these organisations have been contracted to collect royalties for various uses on behalf of the owners of the music composition and performance (the recording in this case).
So, if you have played this music, you are liable to pay for the use. Purchasing the music in the first place only provides you with the right to use the music for your own personal use and with a small group of personal friends.
It’s not meant to license you for use in your place of work, in your office, or garage or in your cafe or restaurant for example.
I’m not here to tell you if this is fair or not, just to explain how copyright in this instance, works. So please don’t ‘shoot the messenger’
Collecting earning for copyright owners for the songs they own is a core right within the law of copyright and you will find the protection of ownership of copyright covers many types of assets someone can own. Many copyrighted things are intangible, such as the written word (a story for example) or a film. But what does this have to do with you?
Essentially if you are using someone’s copyright you will need to agree legal terms for the use of that copyright. In terms of using music, instead of gaining thousands of agreements with music owners, you can go through a licensing agency or society to gain a blanket agreement. So if it wasn’t clear before, I hope this has helped clarify this. If you are using music in your business today there is likely (but not always) someone that you will need to gain permission from for using that music in your business.
But if you switch off your speakers today and stop playing this music you do have a choice as to what to do in the future and some options are far cheaper than using the performing rights society’s blanket licenses. Here are some options.
You have a number of choices.
- You can stop playing music and pay no one. Yes, OK that may be not really an option but you do have the choice to stop playing music altogether,
- You can find a friendly local artist and pay them for music that they agree you can use with no extra performing or compositional rights required to pay (royalty free). The artist will have needed to ensure they have not asigned the rights for collecting royalties for that use in your business to an agency or society. If they have, you will still be liable even if the artist is unclear of the duplication.
- You can use a royalty free service provider such as Melody Pods,
- You can continue to use commercially available music in your business and pay PPL and MCPRS
So, point three needs more detail. A royalty free music service provider will provide you with music that has no extra royalties required to be used in a business location (public location).
Not all ‘royalty free’ music providers offer this as some other royalties may be assumed in their description so be careful.
However, true royalty free means that no royalties, whatever, when ever and however are due on the use of the music, to you, who has purchased a license from them.
So you don’t own the music, meaning you don’t own the copyright, but you do own a license, which is a right to use the music in a specific way.
So in Melody Pods’ case, we license our artist’s music royalty free for use in background of businesses and public places to the person purchasing the license.
Specifically in the UK we ensure that artists included for the UK market are via the USA and have wavered or not registered their music for collection for when it is used as background music in business environments. MCPRS and PPL acknowledge this for US based artists but not UK artists sadly, so we remove UK artists from our catalogue offered to UK clients.
We offer our service on a monthly basis to businesses to enable them to play our music in their locations for a fee that includes the licensing of all the music they choose and delivered into their locations to play using our music player app.
They can choose and change the music they wish any time they would like and just pay on a monthly basis for its use. We also offer an Internet radio service that means you can just stream if you don’t want to download.
If you would like more advice or ask more questions please get in touch with the form below and we will be pleased to help you.
Please note: If you need the exact legal detail or legal advice on using music assigned to a performing or composition rights society you are best advised to seek legal services. This post is not intended to replace legal advice.