Do I need a music licence to play music at work?

There are many laws and regulations that affect small businesses, and business owners need to be aware of these in order to comply with the law. Business owners are busy people and keeping on top of laws and regulations can be a difficult task to do when running a company and managing staff on a daily basis. One law in particular that catches many businesses out, is the use of music at work and if businesses need a licence to do so.

Music is easily accessible for everyone whether it’s on CD, radio or on a mobile device via Spotify for example, but do you need a licence to play this at work?

When you buy and download music for personal use, this has a personal use licence in a non-commercial environment. If staff use their own devices and headphones you won’t need a licence for this. However if you play music in a business environment, whether that be in a retail store, pub, restaurant or even a gym for all staff and customers to listen to then you’ll require a licence to do so.

This is known as a public performance and you’ll need a Public Performance Licence (PPL). This is issued by a performing rights organisation (PRO) which gives you the rights to play music to a wider audience. Without a licence your business is at risk of copyright infringement and can face legal action and appropriate fines. A big price to pay for your favourite song.


Is anyone exempt from music regulations?

Music played, even between two people on commercial ground is classed as a public performance and therefore requires the licence.


How do I get a licence?

This is quite simple to do. The UK’s music licensing companies merged together and created TheMusicLicence with the aim to make it more straight forward for companies to get their Public Performance Licence (PPL).

To apply for your businesses licence visit and apply online. The costs of attaining your licence depends on your type of business, number of employees, working days and times, where the music is used such as office areas, types of devices used and how you intend to use the music.


Who needs a licence?

You’ll need a licence to play either live or recorded music in public in shops, offices, hairdressers, cinemas, hotels, restaurants, pubs, sports grounds, gyms, social clubs and on UK public transport.

Although playing music in a venue or commercial environment is harmless, it does come with its own set of rules and regulations, which, if broken can come with some hefty fines. Historically there have been claims of bars paying up to as much as £19,000 for playing music illegally – this also included warnings of facing prison should offences continue to happen.

Businesses can of course, choose not to pay for a music licence but then must adhere to not playing public music such as a radio as this constitutes as breaking the law.

Jude Fletcher