Chapter 9:Registering your music with PRS/PPL – Why?

Completely separate organisations, PRS for Music and PPL generate licenses for different sets of rights in the use of music. They work to protect the integrity of those who hold rights for the use of recorded and live music in public performances, meaning that the copyright owner of the music is entitled to revenue whenever the song is played in a public capacity.

In order to play music in a public space, you have to be licensed by both PRS and PPL in order to legally listen to the music.

The difference between the two is quite straight forward and is as follows:

PRS License

A PRS license refers to the use of lyrics and composed music on any public platform, which includes:

  • Radio
  • CDs
  • Television
  • Live Performances
  • Internet
  • Film

The license stipulates that a public performance consists of playing the recorded music in an area that is not deemed a domestic environment. The audience for the performance only needs to consist of one person; if the performance occurs in a public space, then one person is all it takes.

PPL License

A PPL license refers to the use of recorded music on behalf of the rights of a record company and a performer in a public area. Devices which can be used to emit the music include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Radio
  • CDs
  • Television
  • Laptops

The license again covers the same criteria as the PRS license and an audience only has to be one person if the music is played in a public space. Headphones are not applicable as they can’t be heard properly in a public space as they are exclusive only to the wearer.

In a nutshell, PPL collects revenue for the use of compositions for songwriters, composers and music publishers, whilst PRS collects revenue for the use of recorded music in a public area on behalf of performers and record companies. Alongside collect revenue, both parties also submit the fees to those who are using the music.

What are the criteria to join?

Many artists wonder whether it is worth joining PRS or PPL as you have to pay a subscription fee in order to become a member.

However, if you own the rights to music that is being played publically, it is absolutely worth signing up to one or both of the license systems.

It is worthwhile joining if you know that your music is being played in public or via a public medium as quite often the royalties generated can make more money than what is made via digital sales.

Contrary to belief, you don’t have to have a record deal in order to register and if you are confident that your membership will have some form of pay out, then signing up really is just plain common sense. If a track is used over and over again then you can end up being paid out quite a handsome sum, which makes the fees seem completely minimal. Being registered with the companies is a way of reaping the rewards for creating tracks that are relevant and prominent.

If your works aren’t yet gaining much airplay either in public or in the public domain, then hold back until your music is being played; it is pointless paying for a service that you don’t need yet, however, understanding the roles of both PRS and PPL is extremely useful for future reference.

Registering with the companies is a relatively straight forward process and they pay out both annually and quarterly, whichever suits the member best.