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
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
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
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.