MusicStream, pioneer of royalty free music solutions for business, is calling for hospitality trade bodies and media to help with education around music licensing obligations an options, following the recent legal action by the PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited), which led to a Plymouth salon owner being fined£2,000 for playing licensed music in public without the requisite PPL licence.

MusicStream Director, Neil Boote said, “When it comes to the law, unfortunately in this case, ignorance is no defence, so let’s make sure owners and managers understand their obligations, and the options open to them.”


MusicStream highlights the following ‘9 things businesses should know about Music licensing.’

1. 2 rights do make a song – In the vast majority of recordings that you hear on the radio, on a CD or on iTunes, there are 2 key copyrights. One in the song or composition often called the publishing copyright the second in the specific recording of that composition, the recording copyright. E.g. there is only one publisher of the song ‘My Way’ but thousands of different recordings and recording labels / artists holding a recording copyright.

2. For your ears only – When you buy a CD or a download from iTunes, you have effectively bought the right to play the music for personal use only. Some of what you pay covers the recording royalty and some the publishing royalty as well as VAT, iTunes profit margin and other costs.

3. Two’s company, three’s maybe a public performance – To have the right to play your CD or download in public you must have a specific licence for public performance, which is recognised as a different type of usage in law. Even in an office environment, where music is played to office staff only, and not customers, a licence is required.

4. It takes 2 to Tango – In the U.K. the P.R.S. issues licences on behalf of the publishing companies and their composers and songwriters, and the P.P.L. does the same for the recording companies and their artists. So you need 2 licences to play a recording in public.

5. Live performance is different – For live venues and live performances, where no recording is played, a licence is needed only for the song or publishing right i.e. a PRS licence.

6. It’s not just what you play but how you play it. Spotify, Napster and iTunes are each licensed by the copyright owners, to offer their music for personal use only. So strictly speaking these services should not be used for public performances.

7. Understand the alternatives – Music created by musicians and composers not registered to the PRS or PPL, is considered royalty or licence-free. There is a growing catalogue of high-quality, licence-free music available, which if used exclusively for public performance on premises, avoids the requirement for PPL or PRS licences. MusicStream’s licence-free digital music service is one example.

8. Do the right thing – If you opt for licensed music make sure you get the appropriate licence. The particular PRS and PPL you need, varies by business sector, size and usage. For example occasional live performance can be covered per event whereas most licenses run annually.

9. Don’t risk a fine –  If you are caught playing registered music without a licence you risk hefty fines that can be back-dated. There have been numerous high profile and costly cases in recent years


MusicStream is the first royalty free digital music service designed specifically to provide background music and related control features for retail and hospitality businesses .

The MusicStream service was conceived to meet a growing demand among disgruntled retailers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, spa and salon owners, for a credible licence-free alternative. Many businesses are unhappy with the high cost of prs and ppl music licences overseen by the Performing Rights Society (prs) and Phonographic Performance Limited (ppl), in the U.K.. MusicStream enables them to legally avoid the ppl and prs licence cost.

MusicStream’s founders have been composing, producing and marketing royalty free music, for several years. This musical expertise underpins the service’s groundbreaking licence-free music catalogue, which spans a wide range of genres, styles and tempos, currently comprising over 400 hours of high-quality music. The music is expertly programmed into a wide range of playlists, accessed and managed via the MusicStream Player software which works on any compatible Windows PC / laptop, Mac or Android device. An average of 3 hours of new music is added to the service every month, sourced from a growing network of music-makers across the globe.

On average businesses save 70% of current music costs, because with MusicStream they no longer need a ppl licence or a prs licence. For a large retail chain these savings can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum.

The MusicStream service allows the playlists to be edited and scheduled to customise the audio experience. Multiple outlets can be managed from one central point or managed locally, as preferred, and the service even allows customer and staff messages to be scheduled and played out.  Music can be zoned so different playlists play to different floors, departments, treatments rooms, lounges, pool areas etc.