For many years now we have had regular inquiries from business owners who are surprised to be contacted by PRS and other PROs (Performance Rights Organizations) regarding the music they are playing in their shop, restaurant, cafe, gym, medical practice etc. These are not all new businesses, sometimes they have just not been contacted previously and did not understand that they needed to do anything in order to play music.
The fact is, you either pay the PRO or stop playing mainstream music. Often, when businesses get a quote for the annual license they look elsewhere to see if there are cheaper options. Sometimes, people think it is actually a scam and end up contacting people like us, who work in the music licensing business.
I have to tell them that it’s true, they are real. Often in the UK, PRS initially contact the business as they look after the songwriter or publisher. Also, it is not unusual for the business to be contacted by PPL who look after the copyright for the recorded music. This means two payments that the business owner may not have expected. This happens all over the world as there are many different PROs looking after the music of various countries, such as ASCAP, BMI, etc.
Many businesses are happy to pay the fee once they know what it is and why they are paying it. In reality, being able to play any music track in their business may be seen as an advantage for some businesses. However, others just want to pay nothing or want to pay less than the PRO wants to charge.
We can’t help people who want to pay nothing as composers and artists need to earn an income and that is one of the ways they do. However, while PROs bring a good benefit to mainstream artists, independent artists struggle to collect money from public performances of their musical works and are sometimes happy for us to make deals directly with businesses. As such, we have the option to sell licenses to business owners for some of the music in our library. This is music that is purposely not in a PRO to avoid complications occurring and can be licensed to the venue for a one-time fee.
We also have an option for businesses who want a wider range of music. They can pay an affordable subscription and stream many hours of music into their business or public venue. For more information about how the PROs work and what we can offer business venues, see Playing Music in a Public Venue on our website.
Feel free to comment with your experience and opinions.