Every registered Fringe show must fill in a PPL PRS declaration form, whether it uses music or not. 

If this online form is not submitted to the Fringe Society, 4% of your box office takings will automatically be deducted from your box settlement to account for any undeclared use of licensed music.

More information on the form is listed below, along with information on music licensing at the Fringe in general.

The deadline for completing 2019’s PPL PRS declaration form has now passed. If you would like to submit information relating to the music used in your Fringe show, please contact [email protected].

There are lots of factors that influence a show or venue’s potential need for a music licence. The information on this page describes the various licensing elements that Fringe companies should be aware of. 

It’s worth noting that the information on this page applies only to music licensing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Though many elements do apply outside the Fringe, the arrangement that the Fringe Society has in place with PPL PRS Ltd is specific to the festival. As such, this guidance should not be applied to any events that take place outside the festival and/or are not registered with the Fringe Society.

Each year the Fringe Society negotiates a bespoke arrangement with PPL PRS Ltd, the UK’s music licensing organisation. The deal ensures all Fringe companies and venues are appropriately licensed for the events they’re hosting. It also simplifies the music licensing process for Fringe companies and sets out a tariff of music licence fees. This tariff is at a reduced rate compared to the tariff many would be faced with for staging the same events outside of the Fringe. The deal is also a blanket licensing arrangement which means no direct permission is required from any rightsholder for the use of any musical composition or musical recording within the repertoire of PRS, PPL or any of their affiliate licensing bodies around the world.

Information for music licensing purposes is collected via the above [PPL PRS declaration form]. Any licence fee due to be paid to cover a Fringe show’s music use is calculated based on the information submitted through that form, and is then automatically deducted from the Fringe Box Office payout being received by the show. 
 

In 2018 the Performing Rights Society for Music (PRS for Music, or PRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) merged into one joint venture, PPL PRS Ltd. Despite this merger, PRS and PPL still collect licence fees covering two different kinds of music rights. If you are using music in your Fringe show, you may be required to pay a music licence fee to cover you for one, or both, of these licensing areas.

  • PRS fees pertain to the use of musical compositions. These fees are distributed as royalties to composers who have registered their compositions with PRS or a PRS-affiliated performing rights organisation such as APRA in Australia or ASCAP in the US.
  • PPL fees pertain to the use of specific musical recordings, rather than the musical composition contained within the recording. These fees are distributed as royalties to the rightsholders related to that recording, such as record labels and the specific musicians who played on the recording in question. As with PRS, there are affiliate organisations around the world that PPL can collect fees on behalf of.

Paying a PRS fee will not impact whether or not you’ll need to pay a PPL fee. Likewise, paying a PPL fee does not affect your potential need to pay a PRS fee.
 

Below are some different example scenarios that demonstrate where PRS and PPL fees apply and where they do not.

Scenario 1: A show features a musician playing live covers of songs by Bruce Springsteen.

  • PRS ✓ – As the compositions are in copyright and will have been registered with a PRS-affiliated rights body, PRS fees will apply in this scenario.
  • PPL X – As no recorded music features in this scenario, there will not be any requirement to pay a PPL fee. 

Scenario 2: A show features a sequence in which performers dance to a recording of a Beethoven piece. The recording was released recently and not made by anyone known to the performing company staging the show.

  • PRS X – As Beethoven’s compositions are no longer in copyright, PRS fees do not apply in this scenario.
  • PPL ✓ – Though the compositions themselves are out of copyright, the recording has been recently released and was not created specifically for the show. Because of this, PPL fees apply in this scenario.

Scenario 3: A show features a recording of a song by Beyoncé that has been made by a company member specifically for the show and is referenced on stage by a performer.

  • PRS ✓ – Though the recording has been made in-company, rights still apply to the composition contained within the recording and so a PRS fee will be due.
  • PPL X – Providing the recording made by the company member has not been registered with PPL or a PPL affiliate, a PPL fee would not be due in this scenario. There are still rights connected to the recording, however, so a defined arrangement around its use should be in place between those putting on the show and the company member who made the recording.

Scenario 4: A show features original music that was written and recorded specifically for the show.

  • PRS X – As long as the compositions have not been registered with PRS or a PRS affiliate, no fee is required to be paid for PRS. 
  • PPL X – As long as the recordings of the compositions that are being used have not been registered with PPL or a PPL affiliate, no fee is required to be paid for PPL.

Below are the situations in which a show will not be required to pay a music licensing fee. Even if your show’s music use falls under any of these categories, you will still need to fill in the PPL PRS declaration form.

  • The music is featured in a free show.
  • No music is used in the show.
  • The only music used in the show is:
    • background music – music played in the auditorium or elsewhere in the venue before or after the show.
    • incidental music – music that is not danced to, referenced, performed in any way or ‘heard’ by a character on stage.
    • curtain music – music as the curtain rises/falls during the show.
    • scene-change music – music between scenes when no performance is taking place.
      This kind of music use is covered by a venue-level Background Music Licence – venues can purchase temporary background music licences from the Fringe Society if the premises is not covered by an annual licence.
  • Walk-on/walk-off music does not require a PRS fee be paid, but can require a PPL fee be paid.
  • When the music is out of copyright
    • PRS – musical compositions go out of copyright when it has been 70 years since the calendar year of the composer’s death.
    • PPL – a recording of a piece of music goes out of copyright 70 years after its release.
    • The copyright status of a musical composition is unaffected by the copyright status of the musical recording it is featured on, and vice versa.
  • When the music has not been registered with PRS, PPL or a PRS/PPL-affiliated licensing body.
    • You will generally know this is the case because you will personally know the composer/rightsholder or have purchased/acquired the music from a source that explicitly states that no royalties are required to be paid for the music’s use.
    • If you do not know whether a musical composition/recording has been registered with PRS/PPL you should assume that it has.
    • Copyright still applies to music that has not been registered with PRS or PPL, it simply means you will need to come to an arrangement with the rightsholder directly if that arrangement has not already been directly stated.
  • When your music use falls under Grand Rights – this is when you are performing an existing dramatic/musical work that includes in-copyright music, but your licence to use that music is contained within the larger licence to perform the show itself.

When a show is required to pay a PRS and/or PPL fee, that fee is calculated using the information submitted through the declaration form. Any fee is automatically deducted from a show’s Fringe Box Office payout. 

The PRS fee is calculated as a percentage of total ticket sales. This means that if you have been selling tickets directly or through your venue, the Fringe Society will be in touch with you or your venue to confirm details of all sales made outside the Fringe Box Office to ensure the fee is accurate. If you don’t submit a PRS declaration form but have indicated in your Fringe show registration that you may require a PRS licence, you’ll be charged a default fee at the highest rate contained in the tariff below. If sales information is not provided by you or your venue then fees are calculated on the basis of all tickets not available through the Fringe Box Office having been sold.

The tariff of PRS fees for 2019 is detailed below.

Type of Show Music Use Charge
Any show including free shows, with capacity of 1000 or more Any These events must be licensed directly by PRS for Music.

Please call direct on 0800 068 4828 to arrange a licence.
Free show, with capacity of less than 1000 Any PRS for Music will make no charge for music played at these events, in exchange for advertising of PRS for Music’s support.

This advertising will be the responsibility of the Fringe Society and Fringe venues.

Shows are still required to submit a PRS for Music declaration through the Fringe Society form.

Other shows, with capacity of less than 1000

Shows using only incidental, curtain music and music during scene changes PRS for Music will not make a separate charge for these, assuming a background music licence is in place for the premises.

Shows are still required to submit a PRS for Music declaration through the Fringe Society form.
  2 mins or less PRS for Music will make no charge for music played at these events, in exchange for advertising of PRS for Music’s support.

This advertising will be the responsibility of the Fringe Society and Fringe venues.

Shows are still required to submit a PRS for Music declaration through the Fringe Society form.
  Over 2 and no more than 15 mins 0.5% of total ticket receipts

Please submit a PRS for Music declaration through the Fringe Society form.
  Over 15 and no more than 30 mins 1.5% of total ticket receipts

Please submit a PRS for Music declaration through the Fringe Society form.
  Over 30 mins 4% of total ticket receipts

Please submit a PRS for Music declaration through the Fringe Society form.
Music show, with a capacity of less than 1000 Any 4% of total ticket receipts

Please submit a PRS for Music declaration through the Fringe Society form.

 

The tariff of PPL fees for 2019 is detailed below:

Definitions:

  • Amateur Performances: where money derived from the show is to cover expenses, transportation, production costs etc.
  • Professional Performances: where the aim of the performance is to drive an income (even if no income is made) i.e. for a wage, to generate revenue, advertising for a professional show later in the year etc.

Royalties due per performance (excluding VAT):

Amateur performances

Minutes of recorded music per performance


 
Performance space capacity
0-50 51-100 101-150 150+
Up to 3 minutes £0.50 £0.75 £1.00 £1.25
3 to 30 minutes £0.94 £1.14 £1.34 £1.54
31 to 60 minutes £1.14 £1.34 £1.54 £1.74
61 to 90 minutes £1.34 £1.54 £1.74 £1.94
90+ minutes £1.54 £1.74 £1.94 £2.14

The fees payable per production will be capped at £66.20 irrespective of the number of performances. 

Professional performances

Minutes of recorded music per performance Performance space capacity
0-50 51-100 101-150 151-200 201-250 250+
0.01 - 2.5 minutes £1.03 £1.38 £1.74 £2.09 £2.44 £2.79
2.51 - 5 minutes £1.47 £1.97 £2.48 £2.98 £3.48 £3.98
5.01 - 10 minutes £2.95 £3.95 £4.96 £5.96 £6.97 £7.97
10.01 - 15 minutes £4.43 £5.93 £7.44 £8.95 £10.45 £11.96
15.01 - 20 minutes £5.90 £7.91 £9.92 £11.93 £13.94 £15.95
20.01 - 25.00 minutes £7.38 £9.89 £12.40 £14.92 £17.43 £19.94
25.01 - 30.00 minutes £8.85 £11.87 £14.88 £17.90 £20.91 £23.93
Each additional 5 mins or part thereof +£1.48 +£1.98 +£2.48 +£2.98 +£3.49 +£3.99
Are you still unsure of how music licensing fits in with the music use featured within your show? If so, please contact the Fringe Society with any questions by email on [email protected] or by phone on +44(0)131 240 1901.