What is a public performance license?

Music stream

Many people are unclear and indeed resentful about why they have to pay for relaxation music over and above paying for the music itself. And often, depending on which country you live in, from not just one but two or three separate organizations. SOCAN and Re: Sound in Canada. BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC in the US and the PRS and PPL in the UK.


This is a short guide to music licensing and your legal obligations when playing relaxation music in your business premises:

  • When a business plays relaxation music to customers or staff it’s classed as a public performance (as opposed to personal use). Public performance requires a fee so that money can be passed back to the rights owners …. The Music Creators.
  • PRS (the Performing Rights Society) or PRO (Performing Rights Organization) represents the composers and publishing companies that own the copyrights in the song/composition. It collects public performance income and distributes it back to the rights holders.
  • The purchase of a CD, according to the law across the globe, only grants the owner limited personal rights to the music and not the right to publicly perform or broadcast it. That right is what you are paying for when you purchase a PRO or PRS license.
  • The likes of iTunes, Napster and Spotify are not licensed by the rights owners (labels & publishers) to be used for business  – whether you have a PRO, PRS,  PPL license or not!
  • PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd.) has a similar role. It is the collection agency for the owners of sound recordings, i.e. the physical or digital record itself rather than the piece of music, typically a record label and its recording artists. It is also a legal obligation to have a PPL license to play sound recordings in public in most situations.
  • The tariffs that both uses are notoriously complicated and many small businesses only become aware of their licensing obligations when they are pursued by one or both of these bodies. And unfortunately, your PRO license fees don’t actually even find their way back to the music creator. (How can a PRO possibly know which CD you’re playing right now and thus who to send a payment to!!??)
  • Tariffs are calculated based on various criteria, for example, audible area, which can result in huge bills for larger sites.
  • To avoid paying these fees you must play rights-inclusive music exclusively.

Our music is 'rights-inclusive'

How? We deal directly with the artists and cut out the middleman. Spa Music Stream buys the rights to all the relaxation music we use, or we make our own. We then license it directly to you, so you no longer have to deal with PROs. We are in essence our own collection agency(‘s).

We offer you carefully chosen and programmed background relaxation music that is appropriate for your type of business and won’t be heard everywhere else. It’s designed for your business.

Unlike other streaming services (like Spotify and Napster) that are illegal to use in a commercial environment and are designed for personal use only, we are designed for business, enabling you to save money and be legally compliant.

  • Find out how we source our ‘rights-inclusive’ music. read more iconMore
  • How does Spa Music Stream work? read more iconMore
  • Features and pricing. read more iconMore
  • Frequently asked questions. read more iconMor