PRO Licensing (e.g. PRS & PPL)
PRO music is the mainstream music whose rights are held and managed by Performing Rights Organisations such as PRS (Performing Rights Society) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited). This is the music that everybody would recognise from the radio and the current charts. In countries where PROs exist, businesses must buy a licence from these organisations in order to be permitted to play tracks from their repertoire.
In the UK, businesses wishing to play mainstream music (whether on the radio, a TV, a shop-bought CD or any other source) must have licences from both PRS and PPL. This is because the two organisation pay royalties to different people: PRS to the writers and publishers and PPL to the record labels (and through them, the artists). It is worth noting that even when a business has the relevant PRO licences, it is generally not permissible to download music from a download site because most of these sites have licences to offer tracks for domestic use only, not for use in a business premises. We have to have special licences from the PROs (called ‘dubbing licences’) in order to be allowed to provide the mainstream music for business use.
In some territories there are no PROs and in these the use of this music is generally prohibited entirely due to the inability of businesses to get the correct licence.
When partners use this music through us, they generally prefer to make use of our music licences (though it is possible for them to have their own separate licence and just use our platform as a delivery mechanism). In this case, we inform the PROs that we provide the music for that partner and the PROs can then inform any enquirers that the partner is a legitimately licenced music supplier. Partners clients are reported through our quarterly returns and do not have to deal with the PROs at all. Their clients still need to have the relevant licences in place in their venues, though.
The alternative to PRO music is known as license-free, royalty-inclusive or direct-licensed music.