navigating the use of music in political campaigns: what politicians and their teams need to know

As the UK gears up for its General Election on July 4, 2024, and with the US Presidential Election also looming, the political landscape is abuzz with activity. Amidst the flurry of speeches, debates and rallies, there’s another element that often takes centre stage: music. From catchy campaign jingles to anthemic rally songs, music has long been a prominent feature of political campaigns, setting the tone and rallying supporters.

Navigating the use of music in political campaigns

While music can undoubtedly enhance the atmosphere and impact of a political event, it’s essential to understand the legalities surrounding its use. In the UK, the Terms & Conditions of TheMusicLicence, administered by PPL PRS Ltd, explicitly exclude the political use of music without the permission of the relevant rights owners.

According to the Terms & Conditions:

“…any Playing or Performance of Music as an introduction to, during or otherwise closely connected with the presentation of any political announcement, including keynote speeches during political party conferences and campaigns (unless You have obtained in advance the written permission of all relevant rights holders).”

Obtaining permission for music use

Politicians or campaign organisers seeking to use music during election campaigns must obtain written permission from the relevant rights holders, including the record company or recording rightsholder and the music publisher(s) in advance of using that music. Once these permissions are secured, details should be submitted to PPL PRS Ltd, who can then issue the necessary Music Licence covering the approved tracks.

Using the PPL repertoire search available on our website can help identify the recording rights holders, while contacting PRS or the Music Publishers Association can confirm the relevant music publishers.

Responsibility for obtaining the licence

The responsibility for obtaining the Music Licence depends on where the performance takes place:

  • If the performance is within premises covered by TheMusicLicence for background music (e.g., a hotel, pub, conference centre), the venue is responsible for obtaining the licence.
  • If the performance is in a venue or area not normally licensed (e.g., a park or street), the candidate or party should obtain TheMusicLicence directly from PPL PRS Ltd after securing permission from rights owners.

By obtaining the necessary permissions from rights holders and securing the appropriate Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd, politicians can use music effectively and responsibly in their campaigns, setting the stage for memorable and impactful events.

Read more on PPL’s music licences here, or contact PPL PRS Ltd directly.

Article image: Kane Reinholdtsen