Music for Fitness Instructors – What Do I Have to Pay?
An explanation about music licensing for Fitness Professionals by Pure Energy Chairman Andy Pickles.
As we prepare for exercise to music classes returning indoors at gyms and venues across the country, it’s worth refreshing everyone on the complex landscape of music licensing costs, as I am seeing lots of social media posts from confused instructors asking the same question…
Do I need a music licence?
When delivering a group exercise class you have 3 choices when it comes to music and the associated costs:
1. Play copyrighted music from known artists
Let’s use Abba – Dancing Queen as the example. In this case you have to have a PPL and PRS licence because there are two copyrights. The sound recording (PPL) and the song composition (PRS). If this is the route you wish to take you need to apply for ‘The Music Licence‘ and state how many classes you will teach in the year and pay your licence fee.
This equates to £2.00 for PPL and £2.10 to PRS so £4.10 including VAT. If a gym’s class timetable equates to 250 classes per month the yearly licence would be £12,300 (including VAT) If you, as an instructor, teach 15 classes per week, then your yearly licence to use copyrighted music will be £3,198. You can view the tariff here.
Pure Energy has a wide range of albums featuring the original artists if you want to go that way, click here to take a look.
2. Play PPL free music
By choosing this option you are still playing Dancing Queen but it’s not by Abba – it is a cover version created as PPL free fitness music. In this case you need only pay the PRS element of £2.10. The Pure Energy PLUS range offers PPL free fitness music.
However there are a couple of things to consider here!
- Some artists will cover Dancing Queen and release it as a new interpretation, however, that doesn’t mean it’s PPL free. For example Take That covered ‘Relight My Fire’ but their record company will still collect the PPL performance fees. For a track to be PPL-free it has to be clearly stated as such.
- When it comes to PRS it is also worth noting that the venue usually covers this element but a standard PRS licence doesn’t cover group exercise classes; that’s just for background music in areas like the gym floor and changing rooms, so a PRS licence for exercise to music must be purchased.
3. Play licence free music or, as we call it, ‘all rights included’
By playing licence free music, you don’t get to play Dancing Queen, but the upside is you don’t have to pay any additional fees to play music in your classes. In the case of Pure Energy GO we have commissioned producers and artists to make new music for exclusive use in the fitness industry and we now control the global rights to this music.
It is our choice not to ask PPL/PRS to collect money for performance, so you are free of any additional fees. The other benefit of using Pure Energy GO is that you can also use it online with no fear of take down.
So, those are the facts, and although instructors get frustrated and annoyed I’m afraid the music industry’s view is that you are using their artist’s music to enhance your classes to make money, and so you have to pay a licence to do so and they empower PPL and PRS to collect the performance fees on their behalf.
It is also worth being aware that whilst some may choose to flaunt the law and play what they want, the licensing authorities will be stepping up their spot checks and you will have to prove you are licensed correctly. Equally worth noting is that fitness instructors can’t use Spotify for group fitness classes, as it is for individual use only, not commercial use.
As gyms and instructors you have a choice when it comes to the music you play and at Pure Energy Music we provide you with all options and have been doing so since 1992, whether that’s music by the Original Artists, PPL Free or Licence Free. If it comes down to a purely commercial decision, the Pure Energy GO range is of a high quality and removes all licensing cost but clearly you can’t sing along to Dancing Queen, although our Cardio Disco series takes you back to that era!
We look forward to continuing to support you with your fitness music and if you have any questions about music licensing or would like to talk to us about a solution that best works for you, please get in touch. Email [email protected]