PPL was formed in May 1934 by the record companies EMI and Decca Records, following a ground-breaking court case against a coffee shop in Bristol.

The coffee shop, Stephen Carwardine & Co, had been keeping its customers entertained by playing records. EMI, then called The Gramophone Company, argued it was against the law to play the record in public without first receiving the permission of the copyright owners. The judge agreed, establishing this as an important legal principle.

EMI and Decca formed Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) to carry out this licensing role and opened the first office in London.

There has been much technological, social and legal advancement since PPL was formed in the 1930s. The Copyright Act 1956 led to PPL's role expanding to cover the licensing of broadcasters that played recorded music. The popularity and growth of radio in the 1960s and 70s led to burgeoning PPL revenues. Further copyright law changes in 1988 strengthened PPL's licensing position.

In 1996, performers were given the rights to receive 'equitable remuneration' where recordings of their performances were played in public or broadcast – leading to PPL paying them royalties directly for the first time. Performer organisations PAMRA and AURA merged with PPL in 2006, leading to an annual meeting and dedicated board specifically for performers.

From collecting £1 million in our first decade of business to now collecting over £150 million a year, we are managing more rights for more members with a larger amount of money being paid out – enabling more licensees to play a greater variety of music. We have also branched out to collect royalties internationally for when our members' recordings have been played in other countries.

The digital age has brought ongoing challenges to the music industry and recorded music. We continue to fight to protect our members' rights and work with governments and leading industry bodies to ensure the creative industries are supported. 

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