Phonographic Performance Limited
PPL is the London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

-based United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 music licensing
Music licensing
Music licensing is the licensed use of copyrighted music. Music licensing is intended to ensure that the creators of musical works get paid for their work. A purchaser of recorded music owns the media on which the music is stored, not the music itself...

 company which undertakes collective rights management
Collective rights management
Collective rights management is the licensing of copyright and related rights by organizations acting on behalf of rights owners. Collective management organisations, such as collecting societies, typically represent groups of copyright and related rights owners, such as authors, composers,...

 of recorded music and music video
Music video
A music video or song video is a short film integrating a song and imagery, produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings...

s for public performance, broadcast and new media
New media
New media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. For example, new media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community...

 use. The income generated is then allocated and paid to their record company and performer members, often referred to as royalties
Royalties are usage-based payments made by one party to another for the right to ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property...

 or revenue payments.

PPL licenses hundreds of UK radio and television stations
Television channel
A television channel is a physical or virtual channel over which a television station or television network is distributed. For example, in North America, "channel 2" refers to the broadcast or cable band of 54 to 60 MHz, with carrier frequencies of 55.25 MHz for NTSC analog video and...

, other broadcasters and internet radio
Internet radio
Internet radio is an audio service transmitted via the Internet...

 stations to legally use sound recordings
Sound recording and reproduction
Sound recording and reproduction is an electrical or mechanical inscription and re-creation of sound waves, such as spoken voice, singing, instrumental music, or sound effects. The two main classes of sound recording technology are analog recording and digital recording...

 and music videos in their transmissions and thousands of clubs, shops, pubs, restaurants, bars and other music users across the UK to play sound recordings and music videos in public.

In addition to its UK licensing activities, PPL also has 42 bilateral agreements with licensing organisations in other countries to collect overseas income.

PPL also is responsible for the administration of International Standard Recording Code
International Standard Recording Code
The International Standard Recording Code , defined by ISO 3901, is an international standard code for uniquely identifying sound recordings and music video recordings. IFPI has been appointed by ISO as registration authority for this standard. The ISO technical committee 46, subcommittee 9 is...

s (ISRCs) within the UK and has several operations under its umbrella including VPL, looking after the licensing of music videos, PPL Video Store (formerly known as Music Mall) supplying music videos to the industry and the PPL Repertoire Database (formerly CatCo) which catalogues every ISRC registered sound recording and what usage it is licensed for.

The company is a founder member of UK Music
UK Music
Launched on September 26, 2008 UK Music is an umbrella organisation which represents the collective interests of the production side of UK's commercial music industry: artists, musicians, songwriters, composers, record labels, artist managers, music publishers, studio producers and music collecting...

, the umbrella organisation
Umbrella organization
An umbrella organization is an association of institutions, who work together formally to coordinate activities or pool resources. In business, political, or other environments, one group, the umbrella organization, provides resources and often an identity to the smaller organizations...

 for the industry. It also campaigns to uphold and strengthen the rights of performers and record companies both domestically and internationally.

In 2008, PPL collected £127.6 million and distributed £110.3 million to its registered performers and record company members.

Mission statement

According to the company website: PPL’s mission is to manage the rights and maximise the earnings from the broadcast and public use of recorded music and videos, and distribute them in the most efficient manner possible.


PPL (originally Phonographic Performance Limited) was formed by record companies EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

 and Decca
Decca Records
Decca Records began as a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934; however, owing to World War II, the link with the British company was broken for several decades....

 in May 1934, following a ground breaking
Groundbreaking, also known as cutting, sod-cutting, turning the first sod or a sod-turning ceremony, is a traditional ceremony in many cultures that celebrates the first day of construction for a building or other project. Such ceremonies are often attended by dignitaries such as politicians and...

 court case against a coffee shop
A coffeehouse or coffee shop is an establishment which primarily serves prepared coffee or other hot beverages. It shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant, but it is different from a cafeteria. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on...

 in Bristol.

Using the Copyright Act
Copyright Act 1911
The Copyright Act 1911, also known as the Imperial Copyright Act of 1911, is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which received Royal Assent on 16 December 1911. The act established copyright law in the UK and the British Empire...

 of 1911 as the basis for its argument, in early 1933 EMI (then called the Gramophone Company) brought a case against Stephen Carwardine & Co, a restaurant in Bristol, which had been keeping its customers entertained by playing the 1931 recording of ‘Overture, The Black Domino
Le domino noir
Le domino noir is an opéra comique by the French composer Daniel Auber, first performed on 2 December 1837 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse in Paris. The libretto to the three-act piece is by Auber's usual collaborator, Eugène Scribe. It was one of Auber's most successful works,...

’, written by the French composer Daniel Auber
Daniel Auber
Daniel François Esprit Auber was a French composer.-Biography:The son of a Paris print-seller, Auber was born in Caen in Normandy. Though his father expected him to continue in the print-selling business, he also allowed his son to learn how to play several musical instruments...

 and played by the London Symphony Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
The London Symphony Orchestra is a major orchestra of the United Kingdom, as well as one of the best-known orchestras in the world. Since 1982, the LSO has been based in London's Barbican Centre.-History:...


EMI said that playing the record in public without the permission of the copyright owners was against the law. The judge, Mr. Justice Maugham, agreed, ruling in their favour, and in turn established the principle that those involved in creating a sound recording should be paid for the broadcasting and public performance of their work.

EMI and Decca co-operated to form PPL and opened the organisation’s first offices in London’s Wigmore Street
Wigmore Street
Wigmore Street is a street in the City of Westminster, in the West End of London, England. The street runs for about 600 yards parallel and to the north of Oxford Street between Portman Square to the west and Cavendish Square to the east....


Funding sources

Because PPL is effectively owned by its members, the company does not operate to make profits for itself, but instead endeavours to maximise revenues for members.

The sectors from which PPL derives revenues include:
  • Television Broadcasting
    Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of thereof...

  • Radio Broadcasting
  • Public Performance
  • Online and Mobile Television
  • Online and Mobile Radio
    Mobile Radio
    This article is about professional equipment. For mobile radios used in amateur radio, see amateur radio mobile operation. Mobile radio or mobiles refer to wireless communications systems and devices which are based on radio frequencies, and where the path of communications is movable on either...

  • Music Suppliers
  • International

Joining PPL as either a performer or a record company is free. The company now collects more than £126 million annually, which, after administration costs, is accurately distributed to the record company and performer members.

Speaking out for music

Part of PPL’s remit is to protect and, where possible, enhance the rights of its members not just in the UK, but all over the world, wherever and however their music is used. This involves liaison with politicians and regulators in the UK and Europe and worldwide.

Additionally, PPL is represented on various trade body committees outside of the music industry, such as the CBI (Confederation of British Industry
Confederation of British Industry
The Confederation of British Industry is a British not for profit organisation incorporated by Royal charter which promotes the interests of its members, some 200,000 British businesses, a figure which includes some 80% of FTSE 100 companies and around 50% of FTSE 350 companies.-Role:The CBI works...

), the Creative and Cultural Skills Council and the Broadband Stakeholder Group
Broadband stakeholder group
The Broadband Stakeholder Group is the UK government's advisory body on broadband. Created in 2001 by then Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness Stephen Timms, it provides a neutral forum for organisations across the converging broadband value-chain to discuss and resolve key policy,...


PPL is also involved in continual discussions with the likes of the Copyright Tribunal
Copyright Tribunal
The Copyright Tribunal is a tribunal in the United Kingdom which has jurisdiction over some intellectual property disputes under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988...

, Parliamentary Select Committees, the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office, all relevant European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 Directorates, the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 and any other individuals or organisations whose work might impact on the sound recording repertoire that is entrusted to PPL.

Lobbying governments

The key seats of government for PPL are in London and Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, but staff are also involved in speaking to legislators in the likes of China, India, the United States and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 amongst others.

Examples of initiatives that PPL staff have been involved in helping introduce to the statute books include EU internal market
Internal market
An internal market operates inside an organization or set of organizations which have decoupled internal components. Each component trades its services and interfaces with the others. Often a set of government or government-funded set of organizations will operate an internal market...

 commissioner Charlie McGreevy’s proposals to increase the copyright term on sound recordings to 95 years throughout Europe.

Shows and events

PPL participates in a number of shows and events on an annual basis, both at home in the UK and around the world, to support their members.

In addition to the various award shows that take place, such as the Brit Awards
Brit Awards
The Brit Awards are the British Phonographic Industry's annual pop music awards. The name was originally a shortened form of "British", "Britain" or "Britannia", but subsequently became a backronym for British Record Industry Trust...

, the Music Industry Trusts Award and National Hospital Radio
Hospital radio
Hospital radio is a form of audio broadcasting produced specifically for the in-patients of hospitals. It is primarily found in the United Kingdom.-History:...

 Awards, the company is also involved in ceremonies for the Publican Awards and other events which involve their music user licensees.

PPL also take part in the Note For Note programme of workshops around the UK every year, where staff can provide advice to performers, record companies and licensees about the company’s services.

As part of PPL’s remit to collect and distribute revenues earned by members’ repertoire from overseas, they attend the most important international trade fairs
Trade fair
A trade fair is an exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products, service, study activities of rivals and examine recent market trends and opportunities...

 and showcase events around the world, working to establish new relationships that might help to increase revenues for those members.

Growth and representation

Another important evolution has been PPL’s transformation from an organisation that represented two major record companies in 1934, to one that now represents over 3,000 record companies and other sound recording rights-owners. For music users, these developments mean that a PPL licence allows them to play almost all commercial sound recordings in existence today.

Embracing Performers

PPL's responsibilities to performers have also developed considerably over their history, to keep pace with increasing legal protection for performers' rights. In PPL's early years, some performers received ex-gratia payments [THE MUSICIANS UNION WAS PAID BY PPL BUT DID NOT DISTRIBUTE TO MEMBERS] but they had no legal entitlement to income in respect of the public performance or broadcast of their performances. Since 1996, however, performers have enjoyed a statutory right to "equitable remuneration”, and PPL makes these payments to them on behalf of its record company members.

These changes have been mirrored by fundamental changes in PPL's structure. In 2006, building on earlier changes such as the appointment of performer directors to the PPL Board, the two performer organisations PAMRA and AURA merged into PPL. Under the new structure, a dedicated Performer Board was created and an Annual Performer Meeting was instituted. PPL now collects revenues on behalf of more than 39,500 performers.


VPL was created in 1984 to carry out the same role for music videos that PPL was already carrying out for recorded music. Technically, PPL and VPL are separate companies, with centralised management. Any references to the services offered by PPL in relation to music videos are effectively references to the work done in their VPL capacity.

Music users

For music users, it is necessary to contact PPL to obtain a licence to use both recorded music and music videos. Technically, two separate licences are needed – one from PPL and one from VPL.

Record companies

Record companies that own or control rights in both recorded music and music videos technically need to join PPL and VPL separately. The application processes and membership documentation involve submitting the details of recorded music and music videos into the same database. Over time, references to this database are likely to increase (formerly known as CatCo) as the “PPL Repertoire Database”. This is again part of the company’s rebranding process.

Record company lobbying and changes to PPL in 2011

Due to heavy lobbying by major record companies, not-for-profit organisations are as of January 1, 2011 no longer protected from paying PPL fees under the copyright designs and patents act.
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