Get a music license, Don't get a music license
Get an online license, Don't get an online license
Go to PPL, Don't go to PPL
Unfortunately, anyone involved in the industry will know that simply googling "what music licence do I need?" isn't going to give you an easy answer, especially for music leaders. For the past few years Piccolo has been trying to get to the bottom of what licences leaders ACTUALLY need, fortunately I have only been involved in this investigation for a few months.
Hopefully this short read will help to clear up a lot of uncertainty, specifically surrounding using music online, an area which has sky rocketed in lockdown, with alternatives like zoom classes and online streams becoming the new norm. (Or if you don't want to read about me writing about licence gobbledeegoop then I've highlighted a two sentence sum up at the bottom...).
Firstly, licenses in venues. Up until very recently there were several different licences that could be deemed appropriate to a children's music leader, from dance instructor licences to miscellaneous licences. To put it simply for anyone who doesn't know, historically the PRS has covered licensing for performance and the PPL the recordings. So this would mean that the venue you run classes at would require the relevant PRS licence for the performance aspect and then you would purchase the correct PPL licence to use recordings.
However, to try and make things easier, but in my opinion more complicated, the PRS and PPL merged licences together to create The Music Licence which is supposed to cover you for both areas mentioned. What's amusing is that although the licence is issued by "PPLPRS" the two parties claim to have nothing to do with each other! After speaking with members of the societies our understanding is that it is this new licence that is appropriate for leaders and is what is required if you are running classes in a venue.
That's the venue classes summed up, now online. It has taken a long haul of multiple emails, meetings and phone calls with members and senior members from both the PPL and PRS to be able to provide simple answer to "What licence do I need to run my music classes online?". The truth is you don't need anything from the PRS and the PPL, you just require a licence from the copyright holder (See Below).
In lockdown we received many queries about what licences were needed to use Piccolo Music recordings online as well what general licences are required. What the PRS are actually advertising and saying I think is naughty. They advertise licences such as the LOML (Limited Online Music Licence) a licence which their members said class leaders would need to stream Zoom classes. This is in fact not true. As far as I can see, they do not seem to actually have the capability to be able to collect any royalties through live Zoom classes and this licence does not cover third party platforms i.e. Zoom, Facebook, Youtube etc (see Update below).
UPDATE (09/12/20): The PRS have since added some big third party streaming platforms to the list that the Limited Online Music Licence covers. For those who stream on FaceTime, Zoom or Skype according to temporary changes during the Pandemic you will require the LOML until June 2021. One of the sectors included is stated as 'Dance and education classes' which I believe classes for babies and toddlers will fall under. However, third party sites such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are excluded and this means that to use music on these platforms you would only need the permission of the copyright holder.
They also advertise a licence called the PROL (Performing Right Online licence) which to anyone who reads the description might think they needed this licence to run classes. Once again WRONG. This licence does not cover any third party platforms and I think (unfairly) it does not say this until you download their detailed PDF and read the small print. These two licences are basically limited to webcasting from your own website. It worries me how many different licences people may have purchased in lockdown alone for the same activity based on the advice they're given depending on who they talk to. My question of how an organisation can charge for licences on platforms of which they do not seem to have the capability to track and collect royalties for is yet to be answered. If anyone has an answer for this be sure to put it in the comments.
Update (09/12/20): Since the time of writing the PRS have added a tracking form called the PROL Musical Works Usage form which is a spreadsheet that allows performers to log the songs they have used after streaming so that royalties can be generated.
After meetings with senior members from the PPL it was confirmed that they do not license any of their members' recordings in their database online on third party platforms (the platforms we all use to stream) and this was also confirmed by members from the PRS. With online stuff it is actually very simple. If you want to use someone's music you just need to go to them for a licence as they are the copyright holder. They can then whitlelist your URL's where you are streaming from (what we do). This just means that if you are streaming off Facebook we would send your URL's to our distributor who would send them to Facebook which stops your content getting muted.
This ties in to our new subscription packages that are going live at the end of August. Based on three tiers, anyone who wants to use our music can choose the right package that is best for them whether it is using recordings for online streaming classes or making Youtube Videos with our music. Packages give you full access to our recordings as well as a ton of resources. More information can be found in our Forum.
To conclude all you need if you are running classes in a venue is the The Music Licence. Anything online - seek a licence from the copyright holder to use their music and ask them to whitelist you so content is not muted. Solved.
Sing with Piccolo