There are a variety of companies, collection agencies and trade bodies operating in the music industry with mysterious names.

This post will focus on PPL and PRS for Music. It will explain why they’re important and what you need to do to ensure your getting all the money you are owed.

Key Distinctions

PPL & PRS are both organisations which collect and distribute money on behalf of their members.

PPL collects and distributes money on behalf of people who perform on a piece of recorded music, as well as the owner of the copyright of the recording.

PRS for Music collects and distributes money on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers.

How PPL & PRS collect money 

Any company that plays or broadcasts music to the public needs to pay for a license from PPL and PRS.

This includes TV and radio companies, some digital streaming and internet radio services as well as bars, clubs, gyms and anywhere which plays music to the public.

The amount of revenue generated from performance rights is approaching $1billion per year.

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(Recording Industry in Numbers, IFPI, 2015)

Music venues which play live or recorded music, TV and radio stations are required to supply information about the music they play. This means songwriters, performers and rightsholders can receive accurately apportioned payments for the use of their music. For smaller venues and business which play music, researchers are used to determine the music which is played.

Understanding music copyright…briefly

Copyright assigns ownership for an original piece of work to a person, multiple people or a company.

There are two copyrights attached to a piece of recorded music.

The first is the sound recording copyright, also known as the master right. It is created when music is recorded in a tangible form – as an mp3  or wav file for example.  The sound recording copyright is owned by the person who pays for and arranges the recording, which is usually the recording artist or a record label.

The second copyright is attached to the underlying musical composition, which includes the music and lyrics. This is controlled by the author responsible for writing the music – the lyricist or composer.


When music is played or broadcast in public, the rights holder (that’s the owner of the copyright in the sound recording) and the performers who feature in the performance of the recording should get paid.

An organisation called PPL administers these payments. They split the money that they collect between rights holder and performers, distributing to each party independently.

If you are a self-releasing artist, it is likely that you will be paid both the rights holders revenue and performers revenue.

PPL has reciprocal deals with collection agencies around the world. This means they can collect for the use of your music wherever it is played. You can see the full list of countries PPL can collect revenue from here.

PPL pays rights holder and performers annually for money collected in the UK and at intervals throughout the year for money collected elsewhere.



PRS for Music distributes performing rights and mechanical royalty revenue on behalf of composers, songwriters and publishers.

The performing right entitles the songwriter, composer or publisher to earn money whenever their composition is played or performed in public. This could be on TV or radio, listened to or downloaded off the internet, performed live, or played in a public space.

Mechanical rights entitle the songwriter, composer or publisher  to earn money whenever their song or composition is reproduced. ‘Reproduced’ means when the composition is recorded onto a physical format such as CD or shiny black disc, as well as when it is listened to or downloaded from the internet.

MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) is part of the PRS for Music umbrella and collect the mechanical royalty. An MCPS membership is required to receive mechanical royalties from PRS for Music.

What do you need to do? PPL

PPL will require performer data from rights holders from January 2016

Registering performers’ contributions to a sound recording with PPL means those performers can be fairly paid for their share of performance rights income.

From 2016 recording rights holders will be required to supply performer data to PPL for any release commissioned (or recorded) in the UK from Jan 1st 2016.

So, if you’re a performer or a recording rights holder, or both. Joining PPL is what you need to do. It’s free to join.

Read more about the benefits of joining PPL

Join PPL

Once you’ve joined PPL, either as a rights holder, performer or both, you need to make sure you’ve properly credited the recordings you own the rights to, or have performed on.

You’ll need to gather some important information about the recordings before you start. Specifically:

  • ISRC
  • Title of the recording
  • Band/artist name
  • Content type
  • Country of recording
  • Country of commissioning
  • (P) Date
  • PPL Recording Rightsholder
  • Complete list of performers who appear on the recording

Download or view the PPL guide to registering repertoire, below.

[gview file=”http://state51.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2015/12/myPPL-User-Guide-Register-Repertoire-GEM.pdf”]

 What do you need to do? PRS