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Music Matters

When thinking about your establishment, are you thinking about the mood you want to create? In addition to your menu and decor, music can play an important role in creating an inviting customer environment. However, if you play music in public, you are legally bound to hold a PPL licence – even if the extent of your musical menu is limited to a few Christmas carols. PPL answers questions that often confuse operators when considering whether or not a PPL licence is required

1. Do all establishments need a PPL licence if they wish to play music?

If you play recorded music in public, including playing a radio or TV on your premises, you will usually be legally required to have a PPL licence. A PPL licence covers the use of recorded music, including background music in dining areas, adjoining bars and kitchen areas as well as on-hold music on telephone lines or music played via a jukebox.

2. Does this only apply for the radio? What if restaurants are playing their own CDs/ downloaded music?

Buying a CD or music download only allows you to use it for domestic purposes. If a business plays background music, whether it’s via CD, download, radio or TV, then a PPL licence is usually needed. This licence covers millions of different recordings and negates the need to obtain individual permission from all the different copyright holders and performers involved.

3. If a business has a TV on, does it need a PPL licence and a TV licence?

Man watching a TV

A TV licence (which is issued by TV Licensing on behalf of the BBC) is needed so that you are legally compliant to use television equipment in your business. A TV licence does not entitle you to use recorded music from PPL’s repertoire, which may be included within television broadcasts. As TV programming often includes the use of recorded music, a PPL licence is required when those programmes are screened publicly, be it for employees back of house or customers front of house.

4. How much is the PPL licence?

Cost depends on several factors, such as business type, size, activity and how you use recorded music. The fee for background music depends on the size of the area in which recorded music is audible. The fee for an establishment with an audible area of up to 400m2 is currently £130.51 per annum. If your establishment has an audible area of 50m2 or less and only uses traditional radio or television broadcasts you may be eligible for a concessionary fee of 50% of the above.

Applying for a PPL Licence

5. How do I apply for a PPL licence?

You can buy it online at Alternatively, call 020 7534 1070 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday for advice.

6. Where does my licence fee go?

A PPL licence ensures that performers and record companies are being fairly paid for the use of their music. After the deduction of running costs, all of PPL’s licence fee income is distributed to PPL’s diverse membership, which includes major record labels and independents as well as well-known performers and session musicians. The majority of PPL’s members are small businesses. PPL does not retain a profit for its services.

7. What happens if an establishment needs a PPL licence but does not get one?

The business may face legal proceedings. A court can order the business to pay its outstanding music licence fees plus PPL’s legal costs and issue a court order banning the business from playing recorded music until all outstanding amounts have been paid in full. PPL will only take this action as a last resort and will always give businesses a reasonable opportunity to obtain a licence (or resolve any queries or concerns regarding their licence or their need for a licence) before doing so.

8. If I have multiple restaurants, do I need multiple licences?


9. I already hold a PRS for Music licence. Do I still need a PPL licence?

In most instances of recorded music being played in public, a music licence will be required from both PPL and PRS for Music. PPL collects and distributes licence fees for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers, while PRS for Music collects and distributes for the use of musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. Further information can be found at and

Tune in to music

Phil Burroughes, MD at ImageSound, advises on how best to harness the power of music for your operation.

Play music that reflects the time of day

By altering your music tempo, you can alter the atmosphere. You may choose a slow tempo in the morning for easy listening, an up-tempo style at lunchtime and an intimate mid-tempo vibe in the evening.

Play music that reflects the occasion

Whether it’s a celebratory event, festive holiday or just business as usual, you can select suitable genres that reflect different occasions and enhance your guests’ experience.

Allow customers to be more interactive

Phil Burroughes, MD at ImageSound, advises on how best to harness the power of music for your operation Play music that reflects the occasion Whether it’s a celebratory event, festive holiday or just business as usual, you can select suitable genres that reflect different occasions and enhance your guests’ experience. Technological developments mean customers have the ability to be more interactive than ever. It is now possible to offer customers the option of selecting songs from playlists, giving them the choice to match the music to their own moods. This level of interactivity can drive engagement (whether that be via word of mouth or social media) and ultimately dwell time, encouraging customers to stay that bit longer.

Consider your staff, not just your customers

While music can boost the atmosphere, drive footfall and dwell time, it also plays an important role in motivating your staff. Research has shown that staff can be more efficient and productive when the right music is played. We work with venues where higher tempo tracks are used when staff are readying the restaurant, and where back- of-house staff get free reign of music in the kitchen.

Music matters

Remember that you have invested in your restaurant – from buying the right style of furniture, hiring the best staff and sourcing the optimum ingredients – so make sure you spend time getting your music right to ensure you create the best atmosphere possible both for your customers and staff.

ImageSound is a leading supplier of business music, retail radio and on-screen media solutions. The company is based in the UK with offices in Dubai, Florida, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.



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