Performing rights are the right to give a live performance of a piece of music in copyright. For each performance a fee will be due to the owner of the copyright for that piece of music (known as royalties). You can find out more in our full PRS guidance.
If you are putting on a public performance of music you may have to pay royalty fees. It is important that you understand what you obligations are and that you are paying any fees where necessary.
Below you will find answers to some of the common queries relating to PRS. However, if you are new to PRS or unclear on how it works, we recommend you read our guidance on PRS first to understand what your obligations are and what to do.
PRS for Music (formerly the Performing Rights Society) are a society of songwriters, composers and music publishers. They are in charge of performing rights and collecting royalties in the UK. You can visit their website here.
The promoter or organiser of the performance is responsible for paying, or finding out who should pay royalty fees to PRS for Music (see venue FAQ below). So if your group is organising a concert under its own name you are responsible finding out who should pay royalties. However, if you are engaged by another group to perform at their concert, it is their responsibility.
You read our full guidance on Performing Rights here and access the PRS for Music website here.
Public Performance and Do we have to pay PRS for….
Music is performed ‘in public’ when it is performed outside what could be regarded as the domestic circle or home life. You can find out more in our full PRS further guidance on the PRS for Music website. If a performance is deemed to be public PRS fees may be due.
- Attendance of guests is by personal invitation only (except for staff, performers, etc.)
- The function is held in a privately-booked room, not at that time open to the general public
- There is no form of charge made for admission
- There is no financial gain to the function’s organiser or host (e.g. the person hiring the venue)
If the performance is for residents and staff only then it is classed as in the domestic circle. If anyone else is present (e.g. relatives/guests of the residents, a local school etc.) then it would be a public performance.
Yes – we cannot think of a circumstance where a Come and Sing day/play would not constitute a public performance.
Yes – this would be considered as outside the domestic circle or home life.
No – royalties are not due for music used as part of official wedding ceremonies or similar, in whatever premises the ceremony takes place. This includes:
- Religious ceremonies
- Civil ceremonies
- Civil partnership ceremonies
This depends on the Church – some will have a venue licence with PRS for Music some may have a something called a CCLI licence which may to cover your performances. Find out more in our full guidance.
- If the Church hall is physically joined to the church and used mostly for the congregation, it would be included under the church’s venue license or CCLI agreement.
- If it is a separate hall mostly used for secular activities then the church hall would need a separate license or you might have to pay royalties through us.
If you are performing at a school as part of the school activities where the entirety of any profits goes back into the school – royalties will be covered by the school’s licence.
If you are hiring a school venue as a 3rd party you will need to pay royalties yourselves, via Making Music.
Yes – if it is a public performance of music in copyright you must pay royalties fee regardless of whether you charge for tickets or not.
Yes. However, PRS for Music does not control the licencing for dramatico-musical works. The rights for dramatico-musical works (known as Grand Rights) are normally controlled by the publisher of the work and you have to pay them directly.
However it depends on how much of the work you are perfoming and how:
- A good general rule is that you are performing a dramatico-musical work with a staged or semi-staged element you will need to obtain Grand Rights from the publisher.
- If you are performing an extract of a work without any staging (e.g. a song from a musical as part of your programme) then it will be licenced by PRS for Music in the usual way.
If you are performing music from a dramatico-musical work we suggest you read Grand Rights guidance.
Copyright and composer
In the UK a piece of music is usually in copyright for until 70 years after year of the composer’s death. It is important to note that copyright relates to re-arrangements and collections too. So if the composer of a piece has been dead for 150 years but you are using a re-arranged edition and the re-arranger is alive, or has been dead for less than 70 years, it is in copyright. You can find out more in our full PRS guidance.
We have a list of major composers' dates in our Resources section. For a more comprehensive list, the Classical Composers Database is a good starting point and gives a good overview of the dates of the major classical composers.
If you are unsure the best thing to do is contact the publisher directly, if they cannot be contacted the Music Publishers Association and PRS for Music are the next best people to contact.
No – if you are not performing any music in copyright you do not have to pay royalty fees.
You must pay royalties fess for that concert. Royalty fees are paid per concert rather than based on the actual piece of music. So if you perform a concert with 10 pieces, 1 of which is in copyright, then you must pay royalty fees for that concert. See payment questions below for more on how fees are calculated.
Generally no. However, if the composer is a member of a PRS for Music affiliated society or intends to join PRS for Music you may have to pay royalties (back dated royalties can be claimed for approximately 6 months).
No. Members of PRS can apply to PRS for Music to have royalties waived for a piece across all areas. But they cannot waive rights on a one off basis.
Paying PRS fees – venues and Making Music
If the venue has a licence with PRS then any royalty payments should be made by the venue to PRS for Music. The venue will pass the charge onto you, normally as a percentage of ticket sales income. You can find out more in our full guidance
You can make payments through Making Music
No – if the venue has a licence with PRS for Music you must pay through them.
There are several different ways depending on the licence the venue has with PRS for Music. The most common way is a fixed rate percentage linked to box office takings – for classical music this is usually 4.8%.
Venues will almost always pass the entire fee on to you. Exactly how much they charge will depend on the licence they have with PRS for Music. In most instances it will be 4.8% of the ticket sales. Some venues will charge more than this and take an admin fee.
Yes – the VAT should be applied after the 4.8% of box office takings has been added.
They are calculated on audience size. A bigger audience means a higher the fee. We use tariff LC to calculate our fees – you can view the current rates here.
You should estimate the average audience number at any one time and use this figure to calculate your royalty.
The current tariff is the PRS for Music LC tariff – you can view it here.
No – PRS payments must be made, and declaration slips and programmes sent, at the end of each year as part of your membership renewal.
- If you disband you can make any royalty payments to Making Music when you cancel you membership - this can be at any point in the year
- If you decide not to renew you membership, but are continuing as a group, you can still make the royalty payment to Making Music at the end of the year.
It might do. Making Music cannot always take royalty payments for festivals. It depends on the type/size of festival.
First of all – are you a festival in the eyes of PRS for Music?
The PRS for Music definition of a festival is: an organised programme of activities, cultural events or entertainment held in one or more venues within a single town or area with more than one activity taking place in any one day.
If your group does not fit that definition you do not have to do anything else and can continue to pay royalty fees through Making Music.
If your group does fit the definition you need to read the criteria below. If your festival fits any of the criteria then you may not be able to license your event through Making Music. Are you a festival that:
- is run for a commercial purpose
- has over 1000 attendees
- has an entry fee in excess of £20 per person
If you can answer yes to any of the above three options please contact us so we can look into your situation further. In the first instance please email us with your group name, a brief overview of your festival activities, a link to further information (if available) and a contact name and number.
Festivals that do have to pay royalties directly to PRS for Music:
Some community buildings (village halls etc.) may have a Community Building. Where they do your performance will be covered by their licence. It is a flat fee annual licence based on the community building’s annual income. Some community buildings pass this onto hirers – others do not. When they do it is generally as a flat fee as part of the hire agreement rather than as a percentage of box office sales (as with other venue licences). We have heard of some community buildings charging a fee when the music being performed is not in copyright. There is nothing to stop them doing this – but you can try speaking with them and explaining the situation. Community buildings do not have to report on repertoire performed so may not ask for programme details – if they do not you can contact us instead.
Other – miscellaneous
PRS for Music is only responsible for performances in the UK. When touring you will have to contact the corresponding originations in the countries you are visiting. If you are using a tour company/operator they will often take care of this. If they do not then you can find contact details of the relevant organisations in other countries here. Rules do vary from country to country.
Yes. PRS for Music have a Limited Manufacture (LM) licence that covers most the eventualities our groups need for CDs. You can find out more here.
Yes – you will need the LM licence for personal rehearsal use.
Yes. There are various licences available to do with broadcasting music online – you can find out more here.
PRS for Music has a blanket licence with YouTube – so any music you upload is covered by that license. Often the easiest way to put music on your site is to put it on YouTube and either link or embed the video into your site – that way it will be covered the YouTube licence. Embedding is fairly easy to do – click on the ‘Share’ button below the video on YouTube – this will then give you a code to embed the video into another site).
Yes – no matter how short the burst, if the piece is in copyright you will have to pay royalties.