Northern Ireland Tourist Board

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Music licences

You are required by law to have a music licence if you play music in your business.

Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) 1988, if recorded music is played in public (i.e. played in any context other than a domestic one) then every play of every recording requires the permission of the record company that controls the copyright in that recording. 

Playing recorded music in public requires businesses to be appropriately licensed by two separate bodies called ‘PPL’ and ‘PRS for Music’.  Whilst carrying out similar functions the two organisations operate independently, represent different rights holders and have separate tariffs, terms and conditions.

PPL collects and distributes revenue for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers. PRS for Music collects and distributes revenue for the use of music and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.  To play music in a public place without a licence is infringing Copyright Laws.  PRS and/or PPL for Music could then bring proceedings under the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988 if the licence fee is not paid and music continues to be played. 

Music legislation and tourist accommodation premises

If tourist accommodation providers play music in their premises where it can be heard by members of the public and they do not hold a music licence, then they could be in breach of the legislation. The proprietors may be subject to legal proceedings if they do not pay the licence fee. The options available to the Proprietors are that they either pay the licence fee or do not play music on their tourist accommodation premises. 

Charging policy for small B&Bs and single-unit Self-Catering businesses

PRS for Music has a discretionary charging policy which waives music licence charges for tourist accommodation businesses meeting all of the following criteria:

  • The premises has 3 guest bedrooms or fewer
  • The premises is the sole holiday accommodation business operated or owned by the proprietors
  • The premises is also the domestic residence of the proprietor
  • The premises is not licensed for the sale of alcohol (by the local authority)
  • Facilities are only available to resident guests

This policy also applies to small B&Bs with three guest bedrooms or fewer as well as single unit self catering businesses with three bedrooms or fewer.  For more information visit the PRS For Music website.

More Information

For more information on how to obtain a music licence contact:


Tel: 020 7534 1070


PRS for Music

Tel: 0800 068 4828


For more information on music licensing and copyright law, contact The Intellectual Property Office:

Tel: 08459 500 505