This is one of those questions we frequently get asked. Our answer is that you can if you obtain permission and pay a license to use it, which in the UK is organised and paid for through PRS & PPL.
The next question is usually, how much does it cost?
The answer to this is that it varies based on a number of factors. The best way to find out is to contact PRS. We have heard it is around £100 per year.
Often at this stage, clients then listen to the PRS-free music that we use.
There is nothing wrong with our music, it is really good actually, but understandably people would prefer to use a known pop song if this was possible. The barrier to this is usually the ongoing cost. When you consider that we produce an on-hold package with voice over and music from £109 one-time fee, the annual cost for mainstream music suddenly becomes less attractive to small businesses. We even have some free on hold music if you are really strapped for cash.
The reason we can never tell our clients what PRS charge is because their royalty structure is more involved and will differ from business to business. While doing some research I found this PDF that explains it. It is a little out of date so please see the PPL PRS website for more information.
PRS and PPL formed a joint venture in 2018 to create one place where businesses could get a license to cover both PPL & PRS.
In short, PRS collect royalties for the performance of music (over the phone in this case) and PPL collect for use of the recording of the music.
If you do want a lower cost, less complicated option, see our track only licenses or our on hold packages with voice over.
Please feel free to share and comment. We would like to hear about your experience.