The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) is a national, non government, non-profit organisation that represents the interests of Australian recording artists and record companies.

What does PPCA do?

PPCA is authorised by its licensors to issue blanket licences for the broadcast, communication and public performance of recorded music, music videos and music on hold. We currently license almost 50,000 venues Australia-wide, including clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants, fitness centres, cafes, shops, halls and dance studios, as well as radio and television stations.

Why do I need a licence?

Recorded music and music videos are the intellectual property of their creators and they are protected in Australia by the Copyright Act.

The Copyright Act specifies the rights granted to copyright owners. These include the right to allow their recordings to be heard in public (ie. played in a public place such as a retail store, restaurant, fitness centre, etc.). This is known as the ‘public performance right’ in recordings.

To avoid infringing copyright, any business that wants to:

  • play protected sound recordings, other than by radio or television broadcast (eg. CDs, tapes) in a public place;
  • exhibit music videos; or
  • use sound recordings as music on hold;

should obtain a licence to do so from all of the copyright owners for each protected recording or video they play. To better understand which recordings are ‘protected’ and in respect of which you will need a licence, please see the section headed “Are there any recordings for which I don’t need a licence?”.

What licences do I need?

It’s important to understand that there are at least two copyrights in each sound recording or music video.

  • First, there’s the copyright in the composition (that’s the notes and lyrics) which is called the ‘musical work’; and
  • Secondly, there’s the copyright in each recorded version of the composition, which is called the ‘sound recording’ and is usually produced by an artist and their record company.

To play a protected recording in your business, you will typically need two licences – one from the copyright owners in the ‘musical work’ and one from the copyright owners in the ‘sound recording’. If you choose to play music videos in your business, the copyright in the music video itself will also need to be licensed.

To obtain a licence for the ‘musical work’ copyright, you should contact The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). PPCA is not connected to APRA.

How do I obtain a sound recording licence?

You could go and get individual sound recording licences from each of the record companies whose protected recordings you want to play. However, since there are now hundreds of labels releasing records in Australia, getting licences from all of them to allow you to play any CD you want may be costly and time consuming!

There is an easier way to make sure you have the licences you need. PPCA represents the interests of Australian recording artists and record companies. It offers a comprehensive ‘blanket’ licence which covers the playing in public of CDs released by over 700 PPCA licensor record companies, including the majors. A PPCA licence covers all recordings from the catalogues of over 7,600 record labels controlled by our licensors.

In practical terms, this means that a PPCA licence will cover just about every sound recording you are likely to play in your business. Essentially, a PPCA blanket licence is an easy, cost effective way for you to satisfy your sound recording licensing obligations.

Sometimes business owners think that all they need to play recordings in their business is an APRA licence – that is often incorrect. APRA represents the interests of songwriters and publishers and issues licences in respect of the ‘musical work’ copyright, not the ‘sound recording’ copyright. For most businesses, it’s easier to obtain both an APRA licence and a PPCA licence to cover their sound recording copyright obligations.

How much does a licence cost?

Our licence fees are assessed under a standard set of tariffs, all of which are very moderate. Depending on the nature of your business and your use of recorded music and music videos, PPCA licence fees can start from as little as $1 a week. A full schedule of all tariffs and how they are calculated can be obtained from the PPCA website or you can telephone our licensing team to discuss the tariffs that apply to your business. Your right to play music in your business is also protected. Businesses in Australia have a statutory right under the Copyright Act to play sound recordings in their premises, provided they pay the agreed licence fees or give the copyright owners an undertaking that they will pay such fees as are set by the Copyright Tribunal. Where parties cannot agree on fees, either party can bring a case before the Copyright Tribunal, asking it to set the fee which should be paid by someone playing a sound recording in business premises.

Where do my licence fees go?

PPCA is a non-profit organisation. After deducting our administrative expenses, net licence fees are distributed directly to:

  1. the sound recording copyright holders (usually record labels);
  2. registered Australian recording artists; and
  3. the PPCA Performers Trust Foundation, which distributes grants for the encouragement of music and performing arts.

Are there any recordings for which I don’t need a licence?

Licences are required wherever the playing of recordings in a business is protected by the Copyright Act. These are often referred to as ‘protected recordings’.

There are some recordings released in Australia that are not protected recordings, and for which you do not need a licence. However, working out whether or not a recording can be played in public without a licence requires the application of complex provisions of the Copyright Act, which involve considering:

  1. the country where the recording was made;
  2. the nationality and residence of everyone performing on the recording (including all session musicians);
  3. the country where the recording was first released;
  4. the date and place of first release of the recording; and
  5. the age of the recording.

As a general statement, recordings made in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK, all European countries and Canada are usually protected under the Copyright Act and a public performance licence will be required if you want to play them in your business.

Recordings made in the US may also require a licence, depending on the details of the recording and the application of the international copyright laws. All music videos are protected and, when they are used as music on hold, all sound recordings are protected.

The benefit of a PPCA blanket licence is that it allows your business to play all of its recorded music regardless of whether or not you can determine if it is protected. A PPCA licence eliminates the risk of copyright infringement in relation to the vast catalogues of recordings covered by such a licence.

How can I obtain a PPCA licence?

Simply contact our licensing department by phone, fax or email. Alternatively, you can complete a licence application form on-line or download a licence application form from our website and post it to us. On-line payments can also be lodged at the PPCA website.

Where can I get more information about PPCA and music licensing?

For more information about PPCA, music licensing and copyright, visit the PPCA website or contact our licensing team on 02 8569 1111. If you are a member of an industry association or representative group, like the Australian Hotels Association, Restaurant and Catering Association or Clubs groups, you may wish to contact them as PPCA regularly provides them with up to date information.

Independent information on PPCA and the Copyright Act is available from The Australian Copyright Council, or by telephoning 02 9318 1788, and if you want legal advice about playing sound recordings in your business, you should consult your lawyer.

PPCA and a number of Australian collecting societies comply with a voluntary Code of Conduct. This Code aims to promote awareness of copyright and collecting societies, set service standards and to ensure that accessible and fair procedures are available for the handling of complaints and the resolution of disputes. Each year PPCA’s compliance with the Code is assessed by an independent reviewer. For more information or to obtain a copy of the Code, go to the PPCA website or contact our licensing team.


PPCA. Last updated 3 December 2007.

Hans founded his own consulting firm, Economic Strategies Pty Ltd, in 1984, following 25 years with larger organisations. He specialised from the outset in applied cultural economics — one of his first major projects was The Australian Music Industry for the Music Board of the Australia Council (published in 1987), which also marks his first connection with Richard Letts who was the Director of the Music Board in the mid-1980s. Hans first assisted the Music Council of Australia in 2000 and between 2006 and 2008 proposed and developed the Knowledge Base, returning in an active capacity as its editor in 2011. In November 2013 the Knowledge Base was transferred to The Music Trust, with MCA's full cooperation.

Between 2000 and 2010 Hans also authored or co-authored several major domestic and international climate change projects, using scenario planning techniques to develop alternative long-term futures. He has for several years been exploring the similarities between the economics of cultural and ecological change, and their continued lack of political clout which is to a large extent due to conventional GDP data being unable to measure the true value of our cultural and environmental capital. This was announced as a major scenario-planning project for The Music Trust in March 2014 (articles of particular relevance to the project are marked *, below).

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