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Understanding the Different Types of Music Licences for Pubs

By Stephanie Lowndes on September 4th, 2023

As a pub owner, you understand the importance of creating an enjoyable and lively atmosphere for your customers. Music is an essential ingredient in achieving this, but it’s essential to ensure you obtain the correct licences to play it.

Playing music in public without the appropriate licences can lead to serious legal implications, including hefty fines and even potential closure of your business. This is why understanding the different types of music licences is crucial.

In this article, we explore the importance of music licences for pubs in the UK and cover the different types to be aware of.

The Importance of Music Licences for Pubs

Playing music in a public space, such as a pub, requires a proper music licence. Without the appropriate licences, businesses risk facing legal consequences and financial penalties.

According to UK copyright law, playing music in public without the correct licences is considered copyright infringement. This includes live music performances, broadcasting music, or playing pre-recorded music in a public space. Failing to obtain the necessary licences can lead to fines, legal action, and damage to a business’s reputation.

Types of Music Licences for Pubs

There are several different types of music licences available for pubs in the UK. Each licence is designed to cover different types of music usage. Here is a breakdown of the main three types of music licences for pubs:

Live Music Licences

If your pub features live music performances, you may need live music licensing. No licence is required for live or recorded music if it’s between 8 AM and 11 PM at a premises with an alcohol licence, and attended by fewer than 500 people. 

PRS for Music Licence

The PRS for Music licence is required for all types of music usage in your pub, whether it is live or recorded. This licence covers the public performance of copyrighted music and ensures that the artists are paid for their work. 

PPL Licence

The PPL licence is required for the public performance of recorded music in your pub. It covers the usage of copyrighted sound recordings and ensures that the artists and record companies are paid for their work. The licence fees vary based on the type of music usage and the size of your pub.

It is important to note that each type of music licence has its specific requirements and restrictions. As a pub owner, it is crucial to ensure that you have the correct licence(s) for your specific type of music usage to avoid legal issues and fines.

Obtaining a Music Licence for Your Pub

Obtaining a pub music licence is a crucial step in complying with the UK’s music licensing regulations. Here are the necessary steps you need to take:

1 – Identify the Type of Licence You Need

The first step in obtaining a music licence for your pub is to determine the type of licence you require. This will depend on the type of music you intend to play and whether you plan to have live performances.

To get PRS for Music Licence and PPL licence, you need a single licence from PPL PRS instead of separate licences from the two licensing bodies. However, if you plan on hosting live performances, you will need to obtain  separate live music licensing from a relevant licensing body.

2 – Apply for a Licence

Once you have identified the type of licence you require, you can apply for a pub music licence. During the application process, you will need to provide information about your pub, such as its location and the type of music you intend to play. You will also be required to pay a fee to obtain the licence.

3 – Maintain Compliance

After obtaining a pub music licence, it’s important to maintain compliance with the terms and conditions of the licence. This includes keeping records of the music played in your pub and ensuring that the licence is renewed on time.

Music Licences and Business Success

Having a pub music licence is not only essential for complying with music licensing regulations but also for enhancing the overall customer experience in your pub. A well-chosen and well-executed music playlist can create a lively and welcoming atmosphere that attracts customers and keeps them engaged.

Moreover, having a valid pub music licence for your pub ensures that you are supporting the music industry and giving back to the artists and creators whose work you are using.

By prioritising compliance with music licensing regulations, you can create a positive and memorable experience for your customers, while also contributing to the growth and sustainability of the music industry.


Obtaining the appropriate music licence is essential for any pub in the UK that plays music for the public. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it also improves the overall experience for customers. 

The different types of music licences available for pubs include live music licences and licences to play recorded music –  each with their own specific requirements and restrictions. The process of obtaining a pub music licence may seem daunting, but it is crucial for the success of your business. 

Get Pub Insurance Today

Here at Brisco, our pub insurance is designed to provide coverage for all the needs of pub owners. We offer a variety of comprehensive policies that can be tailored to meet your budget and protect against property damage, liability claims, loss of income, and other risks associated with operating a pub. 

With our insurance, pub owners can have peace of mind knowing that their businesses are covered against unexpected events, allowing them to focus on what really matters: creating an enjoyable space for drinking and listening to music.

To learn more about our full coverage options, get a quote today.

Stephanie Lowndes

Stephanie is a digital marketing masters graduate with extensive customer service experience gained in the retail and hospitality sectors. Stephanie is currently a marketing executive at Brisco Business.

All articles by Stephanie Lowndes

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