The BBPA and the Musicians Union, along with DCMS, LACORS and the LGA, have produced a leaflet for musicians and the trade setting out the various options for putting on small scale live music in licensed premises. The leaflet is available to download below.

In addition to this, further guidance has now been made available to councils about the "incidental music" exemption in the Licensing Act, where music is ancillary to the main purpose of visiting the venue such as restaurants and bistros. DCMS is looking at the legislation to see whether any clarification is needed about the licensing of facilities for making music but sees no policy reason to require the licensing of the provision of facilities for making music, such as pianos, stages, microphones, etc. when they are being used for incidental music.

Working as a group since May this year, representatives from these organisations have also produced together information for councils and the trade about how the recently introduced minor variations process can be used to allow venues to apply to add live music to their licence quickly and at low cost.

For pubs, examples of where the minor variation process could be used to add or vary live music provision could include:

  • A pub wants to remove a converted condition that restricts the number of musicians playing to two
  • A pub has been letting a student jazz trio play in the background once a week to give them the opportunity to play music in public. The trio has been playing for some months and there have been no problems and no complaints from residents.

The Minor Variations application form (and further information), is available from Local Authority websites, or from Business Link: An application costs £89 and will need to be advertised outside the premises as per the Minor Variations process. It is also helpful to talk through the proposed variation with the Licensing Authority beforehand.

It may be the case that you do not need a licence at all if the music is incidental (i.e. incidental to activities which are not themselves the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities) such as a pub promoting a stand-up comedian accompanied by a pianist, or background music for dining. However, all form of music will require the appropriate PPL/PRS licence.