FAQs music licensing

Music livens up a PTA event, but you may need a licence to play it legally. We spoke to Alexandra Carr at PPL PRS to find out about TheMusicLicence

What is a music licence?

A music licence ensures that people who create music are paid for their work when it is played for the public rather than for personal listening. It means an organisation such as a school or PTA doesn't need to contact each individual rightsholder to get permission to play or perform their music.

What does TheMusicLicence cover?

TheMusicLicence gives the holder permission to play and perform music that is subject to The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Any background music played in schools for extra-curricular or entertainment activities for example, school theatre productions, race nights, festivals, fundraisers, PTA events, parties and fetes will usually need to be covered by TheMusicLicence. It allows a school to legally play all types of music for employees, children or visitors through the radio, TV, other digital devices and live performances.

Who issues TheMusicLicence?

TheMusicLicence is issued by PPL PRS which collects licence royalties from UK businesses and organisations on behalf of their parent companies, PPL and PRS for Music. PPL then distributes these music licence royalties for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers, while PRS for Music distributes music licence royalties for the use of musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.

Should the PTA apply for TheMusicLicence?

No, most schools should already have TheMusicLicence for their premises which will cover PTA activities provided all profits made during these events go entirely to the school.

Does the licence cover music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music?

TheMusicLicence does cover the use of music streaming services, however you also need to check that the streaming service you choose allows PTAs to use their service. Spotify and YouTube music streaming services state in their terms that the service is for ‘personal, non-commercial use’ only, meaning you cannot use them to play music at public PTA events like fairs, or even a school disco that is not open to the public. Apple Music and Amazon Music do allow PTAs to use their streaming services for both in-school and public events, provided the music is accessed through a legitimate account. This can be a personal account and doesn’t need to be one set up by the PTA.

How long is TheMusicLicence valid for?

The music licence normally issued to schools is a rolling licence. This ensures all schools are continuously licensed for their music usage. However, if the school is hosting one-off/single/casual events with music, PPL PRS can arrange for TheMusicLicence to cover the duration of that event.

Will we need TheMusicLicence if we use a venue that's not the school?

For events taking place in other venues, such as village halls and community buildings, it is the responsibility of the venue to ensure that it is correctly licensed for its music usage. Ask about licensing when you book your event.

Are there any situations when we wouldn't need a music licence?

TheMusicLicence covers virtually all commercially released music available – millions of songs and recordings, not just from the UK, but from around the world. However, if you play or perform music outside of PRS for Music's or PPL's repertoire then you may need an additional licence or permission from the relevant copyright owner(s).

Are other licences needed for an event featuring music?

In addition to TheMusicLicence, you may also need a temporary event notice (TEN) or a premises licence for an event. Read our Temporary Event Notice FAQs for more information.

For more guidance, visit pplprs.co.uk or call 0800 0720808. Always contact PPL PRS if you are unsure about whether you need TheMusicLicence.

The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.