Music hits the right notes for business success

November 2014

Music publishing , recorded music


A lot of us seem to pay twice when we listen to music in the workplace  – once because the broadcaster pays a blanket levy to the PPL and PRS for Music – and then again because the owner of a shop, factory, or garage also pays for music in the workplace – even if it’s just for their own staff and not customers. There have been a number of legal challenges to this over the years in the British Courts, including the leading 1943 judgement in Turner v PRS which seemingly supports PRS’s view that “If your staff or customers are listening to music on your premises, played by any means from live performance through to radio, TV, CD or via the internet, you need our music licence”. The battle has extended to a number of decisions in the European Court of Justice which has managed to come to the conclusion that hotels do have to pay for providing music ti their guests – but dentists don’t have to pay! Case law references below. Musicians and writers deserved to be paid. But paid twice?

Well, and no doubt with one eye on this argument and the need to support their tariffs for factories, offices and other workplaces, PRS and PPL have conveniently released some new research that shows “music hits the right notes for business success” with Christine Geissmar, Operations Director, PPL saying: “The results of this experiment are a clear indication of the value music can add to the workplace. Music is a key tool for business success.”

The research, undertaken by Mindlab International, was commissioned by MusicWorks, a joint initiative of PRS for Music and PPL, the organisations that between them, represent the rights of thousands of composers, performers, publishers and record companies in the UK.  The experiment required 26 participants to undertake a series of on-line tasks 5 days in a row. Dr David Lewis, chairman of Mindlab International commented: “The MusicWorks experiment revealed a positive correlation between music and productivity – overall it showed that when listening to music, 9 out of 10 people performed better. Music is an incredibly powerful management tool in increasing the efficiency of a workforce. It can exert a highly beneficial influence over employee morale and motivation, helping enhance output and even boosting a company’s bottom line.”


The research shows:

  • 81% of people worked fastest when listening to one of four music genres
  • 88% of people worked most accurately when listening to one of four music genres
  • Pop music is best for working quickly and accurately
  • Classical music is most effective for solving mathematical problems
  • Ambient music improves data-entry accuracy
  • Dance music enhances proof-reading skills


When listening to a selection of different genres, classical music was found to be the most effective for improving the accuracy of tasks and resolving every-day mathematical problems with participants achieving a 73% pass rate. When listening to pop music, 58% of participants completed data entry tasks much faster. When proof-reading, dance music had the most positive impact, with participants increasing their speed by 20% compared to proof-reading tests undertaken with no music at all.  Dance music also had a positive effect on spell-checking with a 75% pass rate compared to 68% when no music was played at all.

The research also showed that when people did not listen to music, they made the most mistakes while solving equations and spell-checking. Ambient music worked best for accurate data entry tasks, with participants scoring a high pass rate of 92.%.

Paul Clements, Director of Public Performance Sales, PRS for Music added: “The increase in levels of productivity when music is playing is striking. This project provides a refreshing reminder of the multiple benefits to be gained from listening to music at work.”


Public Performance (Ireland) v Ireland, Attorney General (C-162/10)

Società Consortile Fonografici (SCF) v Marco Del Corso, Procuratore generale della Repubblica intervening (C-135/10)

Performing Right Society v Harlequin Record Shops [1979] FSR 223

Ernest Turner Ltd v Performing Right Society [1943] 167 CA

MLU June 2009 “Are the PRS charging workers and customers twice over?”

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