Music for UK Businesses: All You Need to Know

Your business location is up and running and you’re almost ready to open your doors. Before you do, however, there’s one last thing to consider: background music. What’s the best way to play music in your business? How do you do it legally? The answer to these questions is rather simple, but to understand it, you must first understand how money is collected when music is played in public.

B2C vs B2B

There are two different types of companies that provide music. First is a B2C company, which stands for business to consumer. An example of this is Spotify, which allows users to play music for personal use. The B2C scope also encompasses someone buying a digital album to play for a group of friends. In these cases, the business that sold the music has licensed it to be used by individuals and small groups for private enjoyment. Second is a B2B company. This stands for business to business. A B2B company would provide music that a business could play legally in their locations. If a business uses a B2C service or license that is meant for private enjoyment, then they are breaking copyright laws and can be fined.

The Purpose of Collecting Societies

Collecting societies are groups that collect royalties on behalf of the composers, publishers, artists, and record labels they represent. Different countries have their own collecting societies. In the UK, these societies are PRS for Music (Performing Right Society for Music) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited). PRS for Music represents composers and publishers while PPL represents labels and artists. If someone has registered their music with either of those agencies, then any time that music is used on TV, on the radio, or in a business, a royalty is generated. The society will then track and eventually pay the royalty to the rights’ owner(s).

While these two societies are based only in the UK, they have reciprocal agreements with other music societies from around the world. That means if you are properly licensed to play music through PRS for Music and PPL in the UK, you can play music from other societies in other countries, such as ASCAP and BMI.

How Licensing Works

Now that you understand which companies represent UK artists, it’s time to explore how to become licensed to play music in a business. In the UK, your company must have a public performance license. That is a license that gives you permission to play music in commercial and business settings. The final cost of this will depend on different factors of your business, such as venue type and how the music is played. You will need to register with both PRS for Music and PPL. Luckily, this is made simple through TheMusicLicense, which allows you to obtain a license with both organizations in one place.

Once your company has a public performance license, the next thing you’ll need is a music service that is licensed to play within businesses. Spotify, which is a B2C service, is only authorized for consumers. You will need a B2B service with authorization and licenses to play music for businesses. The purpose of all these different licenses is to ensure that music artists are fairly compensated for their work. Artists make much more from B2B licenses than B2C licenses, so the collecting societies want to ensure that companies using their music are using services that are specifically licensed for B2B use.

In addition to being licensed for performance in businesses, music-for-business providers’ features and interfaces are optimized for business use. In general, they come with scheduling features, assistance in putting together playlists to fit specific moods of your choosing, and more. 


SoundMachine is one of these music providers that is licensed to play music in businesses. For just £24.95/month, you will legally be able to play any music covered by both PRS for Music and PPL for your customers in your business. With an easy-to-use interface that makes planning and scheduling music simple and with great customer service, you’ll be well on your way to creating a legal and effective musical environment within your business. What are you waiting for? Get your free trial here.