Using music online

The information given here is only relevant to those using material which is protected by copyright.


Music for download or streaming

1. Uploading videos to YouTube

YouTube has a blanket licence with PRS for Music to broadcast video footage of music in copyright via its website (assuming that it is a straightforward recording and neither synchronised as background music to a different visual image, nor used for advertising purposes, in which case other licences may be required). The licence was due to end on 30 June 2012 but since the terms of the new licence have not yet been finalised, the existing licence is still in place.

In order for your film to be covered by the PRS for Music/YouTube Agreement, the video needs to be uploaded onto the YouTube website, and accessed from there by links. A link, for example, could be included at the end of an email, or embedded in your group website or Facebook page. However, if the video is uploaded to anywhere other than YouTube, then you will need to pay for a licence via PRS for Music.

The music will not be covered by the Agreement if it appears in a video that also includes sponsorship branding or advertising. However, many amateur music groups uploading video recordings will wish to include their group name, logo or website by way of identification when sharing their material: it is unlikely that this kind of inclusion will constitute branding to the extent that it breaches the terms of the Agreement.

An example of this might be a video recording of a live concert, which begins with a graphic displaying the name of the group together with its logo, and which ends with the URL of its website. In the unlikely event that a copyright holder is unhappy with the use to which his or her music is being applied, the group may be requested to take down the recording. 

You can also use your content on YouTube to embed onto your own website, avoiding the need either to upload this to your own website directly, or apply for an independent licence for the rights associated with this activity.

To link to your video in YouTube you can use any of the following methods:

  • simply create a link on your website to the location on YouTube
  • embed the video link within your website (which allows the video to appear on your web page without taking the viewer away, but with clear branding of YouTube)
  • create your own channel on YouTube and link to that, where you might locate other videos all together

For full terms and conditions, contact PRS for Music or visit YouTube's tips about copyright.

N.B. This agreement does not currently cover drama or spoken word. It also does not cover any sound recording rights.

2. Uploading recordings of copyright music onto your own website

If you wish to upload your own recordings (video or audio) onto your website you will need to purchase a licence from PRS for Music in order to do so. The type of licence will most likely be a Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) and will be based on the number of downloads/streams you anticipate will be required on an annual basis.

The cost of the licence will depend on a variety of factors, so you may need to do a little research on what kind of service you wish to provide to the music user. Questions you will need to ask yourself, which have a bearing on cost, are:

  • How much traffic passes through my website and how many downloads/streams do I expect/want to take place?
  • Do I want to provide on-demand streaming? (i.e. a service in which the user cannot keep a permanent copy of the track, but can select which track to listen to)
  • Do I want to provide webcasting? (i.e. a service in which the user cannot interact with a stream or interactive webcasting where the user can interact with the stream by pausing or skipping tracks)
  • Do I want to provide a karaoke version with lyrics? Will this be streamed or downloaded?
  • Do I want my music tracks to be available on a permanent basis?
  • How many works do I want to make available at any one time?

For further details of cost, how to apply online and the terms involved, visit the online section of the PRS for Music website and follow the relevant links. You can also speak to the Online & Mobile Licensing Team on 020 8378 7500 or email

3. Uploading recordings onto other sites

Most third party sites such as Facebook and MySpace do not have the same kind of blanket licence with PRS for Music that YouTube has famously negotiated. You should therefore always check the terms of the hosting site with regard to copyright clearance or infringement before uploading.


A podcast has been defined as a downloadable, audio only programme containing music and speech, where the music is spread throughout the podcast and where the podcast cannot be split into individual tracks. It is usually made available on the internet for downloading to a personal player such as an I-pod or mp3 player.

The Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) can also cover the use of music in Podcasts. Further information and how to apply is available on the PRS for Music website.

Background Music

Many websites feature music from the moment a page is visited. This practice is used throughout the music and arts world online and is most common on networking sites such as MySpace.

To use copyright music in this way an individual MCPS and PRS licence is required. The MCPS application has to be approved by the publisher via MCPS licensing on 020 8378 7555.

PRS for Music licensing is handled by the Online & Mobile Licensing team on 020 8378 7500.

In some instances the mechanical clearance may have already been granted, in which case only a Performing Right Online Licence is required. Examples include situations where music has already been approved directly with the publisher, or where a production music licence has already been obtained. For more information contact the Online & Mobile Licensing team on 020 7878 7500.

Synchronisation of music for film

If you are using a recording of music in copyright with audio-visual material to make a film you will require a synchronisation licence to do so as the producer of the film. This involves going to each publisher in turn to gain permission and pay a corresponding licence fee to do so, or you can consult an MCPS Licensing Manager to assist you. Further details are available from the PRS for Music website.

Sound Recordings

PRS for Music licenses the rights within the composition and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. You may also need a licence for the sound recording which may be administered by PPL, or a record label directly. PPL stands for Phonographic Performance Limited. PPL licences recorded music played in public and broadcast on radio, TV and the internet For more information about this please visit the PPL website.

We hope you find this Making Music document useful - it is intended to give a reasonable summary of the position at the time of writing. If you are aware of any changes to the situation described or have suggestions for further information to be included please contact the Membership Services Team at Making Music 020 7939 6030 or

Please note: that this guidance does not constitute legal advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person or group acting or refraining from action as a result of any of the contents of this guidance can be accepted by any of the authors or by Making Music, the National Federation of Music Societies. 

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.