What music can I legally play in my salon?

I’m confused about what music I can legally play in my salon. Do I need a licence? 

In the beauty industry, creating the right atmosphere plays an important part in driving footfall and revenue. One of the best ways to enhance your salon’s ambience is to play music, and by purchasing the correct licence you can play recorded music to your benefit while being confident that you’re legally compliant.

If you want to play recorded music in public; for example, a radio in a salon, then you are legally required to have a PPL licence. It covers millions of recordings and negates the need for businesses to obtain individual permission from the different copyright holders and performers involved. The licence covers the use of background music on the shop floor, in staff areas, waiting rooms and as on-hold music on telephone lines.

But what if you’re playing your own CDs or downloaded music? Buying a CD or downloading music only allows you to use it for domestic purposes, such as listening to it at home or in your car. If your business plays background music, whether that’s via CD, radio or downloaded from iTunes or Spotify, then a PPL licence is usually needed. The cost of your licence will depend on several factors, including your business type, size, activity and how you will be using the music. The fee for background music will depend on the size of the area in which the music is audible. For example, the fee for a shop with an audible area of up to 600sq m is currently £130.51 a year.

Also, if you play music in your salon via a television then a TV licence (which is issued by TV Licensing on behalf of the BBC) is needed to use the equipment legally in your business. As TV programming often includes the use of recorded music, a PPL licence is also required when those programmes are made available to employees in staff room areas or to customers in-salon.

Sarah Mitchell is head of public performance operations at PPL, which licenses the use of recorded music played in public or broadcast on radio, TV and the internet.