Licensing and copyright: what you need to do

Making Music can help your music group make sense of the legislation, work out your obligations and decide what steps you need to take.

Public entertainment

The Public Entertainment Act 2003 brought into effect the requirement for public performances, and the sale of alcohol, to be given only in venues which are regulated by their local authorities to do so.

Thanks to the lobbying activity of Making Music and other organisations, churches are exempt from the requirement to register to give public performances (but not from the sale of alcohol).

Our guidance on public entertainment provides more information for members on this subject (please note that this is available to members only).

Performing or mechanical rights

If a piece of music is in copyright, you need to pay a royalty in order to perform it, record or broadcast it, or use it on your website.

We provide advice in our guidance to members in these areas, helping you to understand the issues, and providing easy ways for you to fulfil your obligations.

Live performance

We run a PRS for Music royalty scheme for members, enabling you to pay royalties on performances of music in copyright (in unlicensed venues).

Recording and broadcasting music

You need to purchase a licence from PRS for Music if you intend to record music in copyright. You can find out more in our guidance on recording music.

If you are going to broadcast a copyright sound recording, or a recording of music which is in copyright, you will also need to acquire licences to do so. See our guidance on Performing Rights for more information.

Using music online

YouTube and MySpace have famously agreed a blanket licence for any music uploaded to their sites, but if you are going to use copyright music on your own website or one without a license (like Soundcloud) you will need permission to do so. See our guidance on using music online for more information.


We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.