Music While You Work


If you allow your staff to listen to music whilst working, the Performing Rights Society (PRS) has warned that you could be liable to pay a licence fee.
PRS is a not-for-profit organisation that licenses the public performance of music on behalf of its 50,000 composer, songwriter and music publisher members. It pays its members royalties for each time a piece of their music is played in public.
According to PRS, a tariff for music in the workplace applies to ‘the mechanical performance within the society’s repertoire as a background to work, meals, stand-down times and breaks at work’.
PRS is taking Kwik Fit, the automotive parts repair company, to court for violating musical copyright because it claims that the company’s mechanics play the radio loudly enough for it to be heard by colleagues and customers. In the view of PRS, this constitutes a ‘performance’ of the music, which requires the payment of royalties to the artists. PRS is claiming £200,000 in damages because Kwik Fit has refused to obtain the appropriate licences, claiming that the company has a policy banning the use of radios at its premises.
For those who allow music to be played at work, the situation is complicated by the fact that you may also need a licence from Phonographic Performance Ltd. (PPL). PPL collects and distributes airplay and public performance royalties in the UK on behalf of over 3,500 record companies and 40,000 performers.
The cost of a licence depends on how the music is used. For further information, see the PRS website at and the PPL website at

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