Music License

How to Take Music License for Playing Music in a Restaurant or Cafe?

Take Music License for Restaurant or Cafe

Does Music add a magical note to your brunches or dinner in a cafe or restaurant? Have you ever thought, the music played in cafes and restaurants need a licensing? In order to play the music in your restaurant or cafe, you need to obtain the license from every right owner involved in the sound recording. It includes the lyricist who has written the lyrics, musician who composed the music, producer of the sound recording etc.? Further, in this blog, we will explain how to take Music License for playing music in a restaurant or cafe? Why do I need a Music License in India? etc.

Take Music License to Play Music

There are restaurants or hotels which have music, playing on a sound system, over TV and radio or hosting a live/ DJ/ recorded music events. These restaurants or cafes have to take permission from the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS).

The Copyright Act 1957 mandates the Indian Performing Right Society under section 33 (3). This protects the rights of composers, songwriters, and publishers.

There was a circular issued by the Federation of Hotel and Association of India on July 18 and December 30, 2013. The circular read that you have to take a license from Phonographic Performance Ltd for playing any recorded music and a certificate from Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) for holding any live event.

Earlier, there was a confusion regarding these licenses’, because it is said no license is required from IPRS for broadcasting cable TV channels. Due to this some of the establishments stopped taking licenses. However, Prasenjit Roy, the senior licensing officer (east), Indian Performing Right Society Ltd. clarified that there are TVs in hotel rooms and lobbies where music is played and in restaurants music is played over radio or sound system. So for all these purposes license is required and there is a fee structure for restaurants, hotels, discotheque, and shops etc.

You must know that you need to take music license and playing music without getting a license from IPRS is considered to be a cognizable and non-bailable offense under sections 51 and 63 of the Copyright Act 1957.

What is Copyright Society?

The idea behind the copyright society is to get the owners to join the national society. The organizational facilities and strengths of this copyright society are to give the license to the customers and keep better vigil over the uses of the works of owners. Let’s take a look at the advantage of such copyright society-

  • Customers can get the license of every field at one place without much difficulty and saving lots of time.
  • It is also helpful for the owners of the respective work as their work is under the better vigilance.

For performing its duties, a Copyright Society has to get registered under Section 33 (3) of Copyright Act. And the Copyright Society registration is valid for 10 years and after this, it has been renewed.

Once the Copyright Society is registered under the Copyright Act, it is entitled to issue a license to the users of its member’s recordings.

The Copyright Society also becomes eligible to charge and collect fees from the users of sound recordings.

These Copyright Societies can also take measures against the infringement of the Copyright of its members.

How to Play Sound-Recorded Music in a Restaurant or Café?

If you want to play sound-recorded music in a restaurant or café, you need to register with the Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL).

PPL exclusively controls the Public Performance rights in relation to the sound-recorded music.

Which Music License is required?

There are two licenses:

  • IPRS (Indian Performing Rights Society) or
  • PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited)

Let’s take an example, you are playing a Bollywood movie song from a CD then you will be requiring a License from Phonographic Performance Limited[1] (PPL).

While if there is a live concert where music scores and lyrics are used then you will be required to take the License of Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS).

Consequences of not getting these Licenses: Punishment

Playing music without getting the above licenses are considered to be a cognizable and non-bailable offense. This would also attract penalties which may extend up to 3 years under Section 51 and Section 63 of Copyright Act.

Instances where music was played for commercial entertainment without permission

There were several cases of an injunction obtained in high profile events:

  • There was a Sonu Nigam program in Ranchi for which the injunction was obtained on December 31, 2013.
  • Similarly, there were cases of PankajUdhas performance in Mumbai; the injunction was obtained on December 19, 2013.
  • The alive event of Arijit Singh in Jaipur; injunction on December 23, 2013.

Where and how do you get Music License?

For getting the license from PPL or IPRS, you just need to draft an application in a prescribed format.  Further, you just need to make the payment, which is published in the tariff scheme in accordance with the Copyright Act of India.

If you have an issue with the tariff scheme, you are always welcome to complain against such scheme to the Corporate Board. If the board finds any problem with the scheme then it will definitely take the suitable steps.

When do you apply for the Music License?

If you are running a business where you play recorded music that comes under the PPL’s repertoire in public. This includes shop, bar, office, restaurant, gym, community building, a non-profit organization, or activities such as dance classes etc.

What is the Meaning of Playing Music in Public?

As of now in India, there is no statutory definition of playing music in Public. However, UK courts have released the guidelines to define the “Playing Music in Public”.

Checklist for Obtaining the License to play Music in a Restaurant or Café

  • Audible music range;
  • You need to specify the areas where music is audible such as restaurant/cafe dining areas, bars or kitchens;
  • The area in square meter where music is audible;
  • Number of seats in a restaurant or café dining areas;
  • Types of devices, you are going to use to play music such as radio, CDs, TV etc.

Are you holding any live event in your café or restaurant?

If you are planning to hold live events then you have to specify the number of events and their capacity to accommodate the audiences.

Are you planning to organize special featured entertainment events such as DJs or Discos?

If you are planning to hold a special featured event for example DJs or Discos then you have to specify the number, capacity, duration, and attendance of these specially featured events per year.

Number of karaoke sessions in a year

In the case of Music Videos

You have to specify the number of TV screens on which you will be playing the music videos.

Telephone Music on hold

Music on Hold (MOH) is heard by the telephone callers who have been put on hold. It is basically the recorded music played to fill the silence on telephone calls. This business practice is more seen in customer service.

If you are planning to have “Telephone Music on Hold” then you must provide the details regarding it.

When you are not required to take music license: Exceptions?

There is no requirement of obtaining the PRS FOR MUSIC or the PPL License if you are going to perform the music for educational purposes at an educational establishment. Where the audience member comprises of staff and students only (not public) and the performance is for the purpose of instruction. Section 34 of the copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1998 also affects the exception.

  • In patient and treatment areas in the hospital;
  • Medical day centers;
  • Residential homes (in most circumstances);
  • Music used in divine worship (License is required for copyrighted music);
  • Civil Wedding ceremonies and partnership ceremonies;
  • You do not need to take music license for listening to music on headphones;
  • Background music used in bedrooms, flats and communal area;
  • Informal performances of music;
  • Formal performance of music where no related charge is made to the residents;
  • Any recorded music played as a part of domestic home life or if there is an audience that includes only friends and/or family (A private family party);
  • Music that is outside of its copyright term or freely licensed.


If you are planning to start a restaurant or hotel and would like to enhance the ambiance of the place by adding music to it, then do not forget to take music license. Not only this, there may be chances when you want to hold live music events for your audience then it requires a license too. There are several other cases as well where you may be required to take music license. To get the music license or any information regarding it, do contact Enterslice.

Read our article: All you need to know for starting a Restaurant Business

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