PRS going after workplace radios

Today I find myself listening to quite a lot of Radio 4, though that still doesn’t quite explain why I currently have Feedback on. Nevertheless, one piece of interest: the Performers’ Rights Society have gone beyond the Kwik-Fit case (I can’t find out what happened there – it may still be going through the Scottish courts?), and are cold-calling businesses around the country and informing them they need a public performance license for letting radios play in the workplace.

Some of those contacted have been in touch with Feedback to find out what gives; Feedback asked the PRS to explain their position, but they sent a somewhat flannelly statement instead, that sounded remarkably like this (undated) press release.

Interesting situation. From my reading of the PRS tarif (linked from here), the minimum fee for playing a radio eight hours a day, 355 days of the year, for a small business (fewer than 25 people) would be just shy of four hundred quid. Ouch.

This comes down to one’s interpretation of the phrase ‘public performance’, and the PRS are being clear that they include anyone listening to music outwith the home or personal environment. At least one intellectual property lawyer disagrees, but if you follow the PRS interpretation, I’d best be careful listening to Feedback in my home office, lest I accidentally catch a snippet of the Archer’s theme tune afterwards.

Also of note: the PRS doesn’t have authority to collect royalties on all music, only on that originated by its members. I had the ‘pleasure’ of talking to the PRS the other week, and they were very clear about this… but only after I’d specifically asked.

Anyway: the music on SciCast films is entirely outwith their remit. Whatever its source, it’s published under a Creative Commons license and you’re free to play it to as many people as you like, so long as you’re not directly making money out of doing so. The PRS have no claim over our work there.


  1. Whilst waiting at a red light a car sidled up beside me, music blaring, and I found myself pondering whether or not he had a PRS licence. My instinct was ‘No’, but it was definitely a public performance.

  2. Hello (please find attached photo, Colins the one with the beard!!)
    After seeing all the small businesses complaining about the prs demanding money for them playing music in their premises we thought we could do something about it, so Royalty Free Music Radio was born.
    Here is a small press release you might like to feature.
    Ex-Scunthorpe brothers hit the airwaves with RFM Radio
    Brothers Colin and Gary Wilkinson now living in Wakefield and Manchester are giving hardup businesses a boost by offering an alternative to paying PRS fees for playing music on their premises in the form of Royalty Free Music Radio.
    At the moment any business playing music has to pay the PRS fees ranging from approx £80 to £1000’s depending on the size of the business. One restaurant who is now tuned in to was asked to pay £3000 a year and he only had 200 seats!!
    We only play 100% unsigned artists or bands who play their own or 3rd party Royalty free music. We have a daily expanding playlist from quality musicians who want to get their music heard and quality Djs who provide lively and entertaining shows.
    Its a totally free service for both bands and listeners and can be heard on their website at or by using a Wi-Fi radio and searching for royalty free music in the UK.
    Highly competitive advertising packages are available and the unique adaptability of the system means that larger businesses can have their own branded radio station with quality music and tailor made promotions, marketing, news, infact any information they would like to convey to staff or the listening public.
    Any business interested in the service or advertising packages/branded stations should e-mail for further information.
    Thanks Colin

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