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Is Your Event Licensed?

Andy Robertson

Running an event may entail numerous licensing factors depending on the nature of your event. Major considerations will be the audience size, type of venue and even the time of day or night. Are your artists licensed for their performance and will you be selling alcohol? 


For events run in the UK there is pertinent licensing legislation (Licensing Act 2003) which is supplemented by the Live Music Act 2012 that exempts certain Live music events from the 2003 legislation. Whilst not all licensing is appropriate for your event you should at least be aware of the requirements so you don't get caught out. In essence the key considerations for your event will depend on the following circumstances as these events require a licence (extracted from the UK Government Entertainment Licensing website) : 

  • anyone that provides any entertainment between 11PM and 8AM; 
  • anyone that provides amplified live or recorded music to an audience of more than 500 people; 
  • anyone that provides recorded music to an audience on premises not licensed for the sale or supply of alcohol; 
  • anyone that puts on a performance of a play or a dance to an audience of more than 500 people, or an indoor sporting event to more than 1,000 spectators 
  • anyone that puts on boxing or wrestling  
  • anyone that screens a film to an audience 

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 
  • 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. 

To obtain the appropriate licence you will need to contact the local government authority responsible for the location of your event. Make sure you check with the local authority early as it could take time to obtain the correct licence, usually at least 1 month because they have to post applications publicly and wait for objections. Each application is assessed for the following factors: 

  • The prevention of crime and disorder (for example drug-related problems, disorder, drunkenness and anti-social behaviour) 
  • Public safety (the physical safety of people using the venue) 
  • The prevention of public nuisance (for example noise from music, litter and light pollution) 
  • The protection of children from harm (including moral, psychological and physical harm) 
Expect the licensing costs to range between £100 and £1,900.

Other licensing you need to evaluate will be PRS (Public Performance Rights) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) requirements. These organisations protect the rights of songwriters, composers and publisher and the rights of the record producers and the performers. It may be these licences already exist for your event because they have previously been obtained by the venue and/or the artists.  

Ensuring responsibilities and timescales have been assigned you can use a software solution like FestivalPro to log all licensing requirements. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and are performance artists themselves. Using a system like this can help with you prepare for your event licensing requirements.  


Photo by ELEVATE from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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