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Do I need a music license for my wedding or party?

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

This is a fairly common question we get asked here at The Pedal Tones and we thought we’d take a moment to answer this question (and a few others related to it!) in today’s blog! Referring to this document on the Richmond website, we can see that it is clearly stated under the Licencing Act 2003 for Regular Entertainment that:

“Any performances of live music that take place in private homes and gardens for

private parties and weddings will not be licensable unless the host takes the unusual

step of charging his guests to attend and with a view to making a profit.

The Act does nothing to affect what people are entitled to do in their own homes

unless the public is admitted or guests charged and with a view to profit rather than

to simply cover costs.”

The document then goes onto clarify weddings, with the handy and specific question ‘What if I book a band for a wedding’: “A license would only be required for a private wedding party if

the host took the unusual step of charging [...] guests to attend and with a view to

making a profit.”

It also appears that some changes have been made to the licensing since this document was created as the website has some further information: “Whether a licence is needed for music entertainment will depend on the circumstances. A licence is not required to stage a performance of live music, or the playing of recorded music if:

  • it takes place between 8AM and 11PM; and

  • it takes place at an alcohol on-licensed premises; and

  • the audience is no more than 500 people

You also don’t need a licence:

  • to put on unamplified live music at any place between the same hours; or

  • to put on amplified live music at a workplace between the same hours and provided the audience is no more than 500 people.”

Simply put - as long as your venue has an alcohol license, then you should be covered. It’s still worth checking in with your venue as some venues may have certain restrictions on their license, such as a sound limiter or certain noise restrictions. Check out our handy guide here for more information on that topic!

If you’re having a more DIY-type wedding at a village hall or church hall, you also shouldn’t need to worry. Further clarification further down the page states:

“There are exemptions from the need for a licence for music entertainment, in defined circumstances as set out in the Guidance, including for:

places of public worship, village halls, church halls and other similar buildings



local authority premises

incidental music - music that is incidental to other activities that aren’t classed as regulated entertainment”

What about PRS for Music?

PRS for music (formerly the Performing Rights Society) collects royalties on behalf of composers and publishers whenever a song is played to ensure the right people are being paid for their music. Again, PRS for Music clarifies their policy on their website too: “PRS for Music does not make a charge for functions of a purely domestic or family nature, such as wedding receptions, christening parties or domestic birthday parties, when:

  • Attendance of guests is by personal invitation only (except for staff, performers, etc.)

  • The function is held in a privately-booked room, not at that time open to the general public

  • There is no form of charge made for admission

  • There is no financial gain to the function’s organiser or host (e.g. the person hiring the venue)”

Again, we can see that this policy matches with government legislation - as long as guests aren’t being charged to attend, no licensing is required and PRS for music won’t collect royalties from the event.

Are there other licenses I need to have live music at my wedding or party?

No further licences should be required to have live music at your wedding or party, thankfully! Again, make sure you check in with your venue as stated before as venues may have certain policies or noise limits they need to adhere to, meaning live music may need to finish earlier, or your band may be required to bring an electric drumkit or smaller alternative (such as a cajon - our folk band is perfect for this!) in order to meet these limits. Although it’s not a necessary requirement, most venues require your band to have Public Liability Insurance (sometimes shortened to ‘PLI’) This is to make sure that your band is covered in the event that a guest or band member has any incidents or accidents resulting in injury or damage to property. Venues may also request a Portable Appliance Testing (sometimes shortened to ‘PAT’) certificate to ensure that their equipment is safe and ready to use without causing injury or fire from exposed wires or similar! We’re more than happy to provide our PAT and PLI certificates upon request - please get in touch with us if you need anything!

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