Do I need a Premises Licence to play Music?

Posted: Monday, 7 September 2015 @ 14:50

Last month I blogged about the need for a PPL and/or a PRS licence if playing music. They cover the licensing of the authorship and artistic rights. But do you also need to have music covered by a Premises Licence? That depends.

The playing of music, whether live or recorded, is usually classed as "regulated entertainment", which is a licensable activity requiring a Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate (or subject to a Temporary Event Notice). This includes a performance of live music or any playing of recorded music

But to be licensable and require a Premises Licence any such activity must be to entertain an audience, held on premises for that purpose, and take place in the presence of a public audience. If it is a private event then it will only be licensable if a charge is made with the intention of making a profit. So a private event charging just to cover costs will not make it licensable. Further detail can be gleaned by looking at Chapter 15 of the Statutory Guidance, particularly paragraphs 15.11-15.14.

But as with most laws there are exemptions. For example, if it is incidental music, live or recorded, to some other activity, it will not require a licence. Morris Dancing is itself exempt, and the music played to accompany it is exempt. Incidental music played in a restaurant to entertain the diners will not require a Premises Licence, unless the music is the main event. Live TV or radio broadcasts are not classed as "regulated entertainment", nor is music played at garden fetes if not for private gain. And spontaneous performance of music singing or dancing is not classed as "Regulated Entertainment".

See also paragraph 15.5 of the Statutory Guidance.

Since 6 April 2015 the position on regulated entertainment has further relaxed, so that no licence is required for the following activities, in some case subject to maximum numbers and specific hours when they take place:

Live Music

- unamplified music between 08:00 and 23:00 on any day on any premises.

- amplified music between 08:00 and 23:00 on premises authorised to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, subject to a maximum audience of 500.

- amplified music between 08:00 and 23:00 in a workplace not licensed to sell alcohol, subject to a maximum audience of 500

- amplified live music between 08:00 and 23:00 in a church hall, village hall, or other community premises not licensed to sell alcohol, subject to a maximum of 500 and subject to consent from the venue authorities.

- similar exemption for non-residential premises of local authorities, schools, and hospitals.

- note that Karaoke is considered live music. Also note that a beer garden and the like can be used for live music if shown on the plan of the Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate. Even if they are not, they are likely to be workplaces and subject to the exemption which applies there. But note that the workplace exemption does not apply to recorded music, so if the beer garden is not on the plan it is not exempt at all and will require licensing for recorded music.

Recorded Music

- between 08:00 and 23:00 on premises authorised to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises subject to a maximum audience of 500. Again note that this will not include the beer garden if it is not on the licence plan.

- between 08:00 and 23:00 in a church hall, village hall, or other community premises not licensed to sell alcohol, subject to a maximum of 500 and subject to consent from the venue authorities.

- similar exemption for non-residential premises of local authorities, schools, and hospitals

Also note that the Licensing Authority has the power to remove the exemptions but only if and when it carries out a formal Review of the Premises Licence of Club premises Certificate.

But there may already be conditions imposed prior to 6 April 2015 on a Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate, or imposed on an application for a new licence. These will be suspended so far as live music and recorded music are concerned so far as it takes place between 08:00 and 23:00 and the premises are open for sale or supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises and if amplified music with a maximum audience of 500.

Dancing on its own by the public is not regulated entertainment. A performance of dance for a public audience is. But of course the live or recorded music accompanying the dancing is regulated entertainment, as it is considered a main part of the entertainment and not therefore "incidental", and will require licensing unless it comes within the exemptions.

It is all very complicated, and it is recommended that if any entertainment is planned then first of all read Chapter 15 of the Statutory Guidance. It may also be wise to obtain legal advice, particularly if you have a dispute with any of the authorities or neighbours.

Nigel Musgrove
Licensing Law Specialist
Tel: 0845 003 5639

Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
Call Nigel on +44 (0)1285 847 001 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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