Music/Radio at Work

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Jim Carr
Member - 58 posts
26 Jul 2011 11:33AM

Sorry Susan,

I must have mis-read your post because you do mention BOTH licences, however, i was informed, by the PRS that more than ONE person hearing the music makes it a 'PUBLIC' broadcast.

What it all actually means is that, as a business that allows its staff to bring in radios from home (providing they comply with all your safety regs), you are paying again for a license for them to LISTEN, after the broadcasting company has already paid the same authorities a license to broadcast, a kind of double payment for the same song. A nice business to be in, i'd love to be paid twice for my product.

Imagine the scenario, you have invented a super spud peeling machine for use in the crisp industry, you not only get paid when the chip company buys your machine, but you also get paid for every spud it peels, now why didn't i think of that..............


James Larkin
Member - 56 posts
26 Jul 2011 11:15AM

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James Larkin
Member - 56 posts
26 Jul 2011 11:15AM

Maybe I have missed the point in this thread but is it not a case of he(she) who pays the piper calls the tune. Surely when we are at work we are paid to wor or am i being too simplistic? Tatse in music may well have culteral implications and that could open up another can of worms in the field of discrimination. It really is a mindfield for employers but if you don't plant a mine you don't have to worry or pay for the consequences, either intended or unintended in the polictically correct world that we live in.

Jim Carr
Member - 58 posts
26 Jul 2011 9:38AM

What an interesting thread, music at work is a minefield with volume levels, musical taste etc all having an impact on anyone contemplating playing music at work. Also noted, was the mention of the PRS license. This license is required IF MORE THAN ONE PERSON can hear the music, it is then termed as a 'public broadcast' and requires a license.

UNFORTUNATELY, i keep seeing within this thread ONLY the mention of the PRS licence, PLEASE NOTE, you need TWO licenses, one from the PRS, which you have already mention in this string, and whose charges are based on the number of peaple who can hear the music over any particular shift, PLUS you need another license from the PPL (check it out), whose charges are based on your square metreage, they are both independant bodies, but seem to work together when conveniance dictates, i.e. when they are prosocuting you for failing to obtain the nessesary TWO licences.

Please be aware that there are rather HEFTY financial implications if you are taken to court.

These licenses are not well advertised and to be honest, not everyone is aware of their existance, thinking that a tv license covers them. A FATAL MISTAKE.


Susan Barber
Member - 1 post
22 Jul 2011 5:40PM

I am responsible for the radio arrangements for around 300 staff and have come across many of the issues and concerns raised here.

Firstly in terms of licences you need to be aware that a PRS licence may not be enough - you may also need a PPL licence to be fully covered - though in my experience the PRS are slightly more aggressive about enforcement. If more than 10 people can hear a radio playing (whether they are public or employees) then it is considered to be a 'broadcast' and these licences are required. I have found both sets of staff very friendly and helpful to deal with - though the whole legislation and enforcement is far too convoluted and really needs an overhaul.

We took a staff survey before introducing the radio (we work in open plan spaces) and decided that the radio would only be on during a Friday - it gives the end of the week an extra lift and also is a compromise between those folks that don't really like it and those that love it!

The initial vote came back strongly (90%) in favour of having radios on a Friday. Following that we purchased one radio for each team - around 30 radios - of the same make so that there would be no problems syncing the sound (different makes of radio can receive the signal from the same station at a different time leading to a horrible 'echo' effect). We then tested reception for all the teams and only the stations that were receivable in ALL areas went on to the list for voting.

Every staff member was surveyed about station choice and given the chance to vote for up to 4 stations of their choice from the list, with the criteria that a station would go on to rotation to be played only if it was in the top 4 stations voted for AND it had more than 50% of the overall vote. We ended up with three stations on rotation. We repeat the voting process every six months including asking again if everyone wants to keep the radio.

All radios have to be tuned to the correct station and any one who was tempted to flout that had their radio removed for a while - it's very obvious in an open office if someone is listening to something else! And because we have so many radios the volume on all of them is set low giving a general overall volume that isn't too intrusive. Each team can also choose (by majority) to not play the station on any given Friday to reduce the amount of direct noise in their area - but that doesn't happen very often now.

In general there is peace in the office over this. People have felt consulted and folks that would rather not have the radio only have to 'put up' with it one day a week and in the interests of fairness they do that with fairly good grace. Personally I'd rather not have (which makes being the person responsible for the organisation of it just a little ironic) but I do see that for most folks it gives Friday an extra lift and ties in with our 'dress down' policy for the day.

It is desperate for folks who find their working environment intolerable because of something like this. I would certainly hope that my staff would be able to come and discuss it, and we could find an equitable solution if it was really diabolical - but as I said, after 5 years of this policy everyone seems to be fairly happy with it.

Suse B

adele reilly
Member - 0 posts
1 Mar 2011 9:07PM

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Kev Rourke
Member - 76 posts
26 Oct 2010 8:29AM

Surley with all these ''problems'' induvidual companies should introduce policy/ies regarding the playing of music in the workplace. Taking into account employees (disabled, abled bodied), Enviornment (factory floor, office, call centre etc.) and before doing this taking into account peoples views etc.

Surley the process can't be that difficult... or is my work place and colleagues an exception? !!!!

James Fairchild
Member - 870 posts
25 Oct 2010 3:41PM

Wow - I've started an interesting debate, back 2.5 years ago. The points about DDA are very interesting and very valid.

Joe Blow
Member - 1 post
24 Oct 2010 5:25AM

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Joe Blow
Member - 1 post
24 Oct 2010 5:16AM

this radio's at work has been an ongoing problem at my factory for some time now . Our company policy is - you can play your music as loud as you want as long as its not bothering anyone . If it bothers someone you have to turn it down . I had someone ask me to turn mine down and was embarrassed that i had been unknowingly bothering him . I apologized and turned it way down so only i could hear it . he also asked another coworker to turn his down , but this guy was highly offended and insulted his manhood for not being able to listen to loud music at work. Then the offended employee spreads this all over the shop and soon several people are cranking radios up just to harass this guy that it bothers . the supervisor was informed and he started telling certain people to turn the volume down . Trouble was they would only turn it down for half a day or a couple hours and then crank it back up again . One employee was told about 8 times and eventually got a warning about it I believe . What happens one will turn his up and then the other will have to turn thiers up to drown out that kind of music if they don't like it . Imagine having to listen to 8 or 10 hours of country music everyday . Feels like i'm on the set of Deliverance . Sort of like like freshman dorm , except these are not teens .Ear plugs help some , especially Hearos brand NRR33 blue ones , but still does'nt drown it all out especailly the bass thump thump thump all day . Maybe try ear muffs over the earplugs . These aren't just radio's but are home stereo units with separate speakers . I feel bad for my coworker who has had to take prescribed sedatives and miss a lot of work over this childish harassing behavior . It seems like they are trying to get him fired .

Sheena Farenden
Member - 176 posts
16 Oct 2010 9:59AM

My hearing problem causes me real problems and a hearing aid will not help. The problem is not the hearing mechanism but the way the brain interprets the sounds.

On the whole I do not like music as often I cannot understand the words and much of it comes across as thud thud jangle jangle I prefer to listen to chat stations as I can undertsand more. However I cannot cope with the noise for any length of time especially if trying to hear someone else or take a call.

If my colleagues were playing the radio in the open plan office I would put in a complaint to management as this would be affecting my ability to work. I have no problems with people using headphones or ipod as it does not distract those who do not want to listen.

I disagree with the person above who states this is not covered under DDA

David Ransome
Member - 272 posts
15 Oct 2010 11:15PM

As regards not hearing the alarms, a proper DDA assessment should indicate a need for a strobe or other warning lght to be linked to the alarm in your work area......

Member - 287 posts
15 Oct 2010 6:57PM

People are fools sometimes.

Disabled is often thought of as someone in a wheelchair, but a lot of able-bodied people simply don't get it, it's as if anybody that is disabled should be in a wheelchair, as some kind of 'badge of disablement'

Even the term disabled is a poor reflection of the truth.

Anyway, besides that, a friend of mine who is now deaf described his deafness as like "having air horns blasting in your ears, but without the noise"

Jim Taylor
Member - 70 posts
15 Oct 2010 2:41PM


It isn't the radio's fault that your colleagues think you're being rude - it's their lack of understanding or ignorance. I would have thought that by now you will have told them that you can't hear the radio and that one might expect them to realise you might not have heard some piece of tragic news etc.

I find it odd that they repeatedly accuse you of being rude or dispassionate about something - maybe you have a case for discrimination???

Kind regards


ruth malkin
Member - 100 posts
15 Oct 2010 10:02AM

I wear digital hearing aids, having grown up with analogue aids, and I am still DEAF.
My hearing aids do not function the same way that hearing does (allegedly. You have to understand that I have as much difficulty comprehending hearing as hearing people do deafness.) I cannot - with either digital or analogue hearing aids - 'screen out' different sounds or choose to focus on a particular sound the way that I understand that a hearing person can.
I love music. I have very wide tastes in music, I love having music on. My problem with radios are two fold. One, it's not all music - the DJs will keep wittering on, and there are news breaks every so often. This leads to hearing people having conversations about what they've just heard. So they hear that 70 people have just been swept to their deaths in a flood in somalia and they say to me isn't that terrible? And I go - isn't what terrible? Then they think I'm some heartless person who couldn't care about 70 people being swept to their deaths in a flood in Somalia. Or whatever. It never occurs to them that I have not heard a word of the news report and to me their sudden exclamation of isn't that terrible is completely inexplicable (please remember that I work in a disabled people's organisation where awareness is much higher than in the main population and despite that, I still run into these barriers - its much worse in other environments like pubs and clubs.)
Another problem is that my colleagues want the radio on and then want to have a conversation with me and do not realise that this is impossible to me. Then because I don't respond to their questions, they think I'm being rude.
I am very up front and open about my impairment and only hide it when I feel that my personal safety could be compromised if I reveal I am deaf. Most deaf people are not as up front, and many deaf people, who have acquired their deafness as a result of growing older may not even know they are deaf.
Playing the radio in the work place causes barriers and miscommunications and can compromise people's safety if they cannot hear fire alarms over the noise.

Teresa Meekings
Member - 2 posts
14 Oct 2010 12:35PM

with regard to the problem for people with a hearing impairment and hearing aids, both comments have substance. those using analogue hearing aids increase the volume of all incoming sounds, sometimes making loud sounds too loud and soft sounds too soft, many times adding distortion and noise thus not discriminating between speech and background sounds, in wind it sounds like being in a howling chimney, in traffic you cannot distinguish sounds, with sudden loud sounds the hearing aids cut out the sound temporarily to protect the ears. so discerning speech in backgroundnoise is rather like trying to understand speech in a packed pub/party, though more annoying as you cannot mentally tune/filter out the background sound.
Digital Hearing aids work on a completely different principle and strive to overcome the problem of hearing against a back ground of noise. They take the signal from the microphone and convert it into "bits" of data, numbers that can be manipulated by a tiny computer in the hearing aid.This
makes it possible to monitor and process sounds, in ways that cannot be done with analogue aids. Some digital aids can be very finely adjusted to suit individuals and some even adjust themselves automatically to suit different sound environments. Much work has been done on digital aids in an effort to get them to phase out or tone down back ground noise which makes it so difficult for deaf people to hear conversation in places with lots of background noise.

Although most wearers seem to agree that digital aids do offer better quality of hearing on a one to one basis, in a noisy situation they are not a lot better than analogue aids.

It should also be remembered that hearing aids do not correct hearing they amplify sounds so understanding speech requires great concentration which is wearing! Also even people with severe to profound hearing loss can be sensitive to noise! some may also have tinnitus which will mask speech sounds making listening even more difficult.

I am a parent of two profoundly deaf children who gain some benefit from hearing aids one of who also suffers from hyperacuity (sensitivity to noise) and at primary school often had to be sent home because the background noise made her physically ill. Digital hearing aids helped improve this but not completely. I hope this helps explain why a deaf person can be adversely affected by background music/noise of any sort.
Let those who work best with music use earphones, but beware exposing your ears to noise from mp3/ipod at around a minimum of 70-80db for extended periods could damage your own hearing and or leave you with tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Phil Baptiste
Member - 36 posts
13 Oct 2010 8:07AM


thats not stricktly true...myy wife has two digital hearing aids, both are atuned specifically' to her loss...they are set to amplify only the sounds which the wife struggles to hear, if she put them in the opposite ears she would have no benefit


Kev Rourke
Member - 76 posts
11 Oct 2010 4:22PM

Regarding the deaf lady and those cofused by her comments. Where a deaf person wears a hearing aid (listening device), these devices do not help to enhance hearing but amplify ALL sounds surrounding them. Talking, keyboard bashing, people drumming pens and pencils in thought, photocopiers, printers, shredders etc all become a mix of exaggerated noise All at the same time. So imagine what happens when a Radio is added to that?

I don't think that DDA or age discrimination comes into this argument. I'm 55 and work with other members of staff who's age range is 21- 35. I enjoy the radio, just mot some of todays rubbish. However we all enjoy diffrent types from current pop to clasic rock so everyday a diffrent staion is chosen.
The volume level is kept low ( an agreed choice) and is condusive to work productivity and workplace harmony

ruth malkin
Member - 100 posts
11 Oct 2010 1:00PM

Yes, loads of people struggle with this, for a variety of reasons. The first port of call is to find out if your building is actually licensed to play music. If it isn't, then it is illegal to play music and you can simply remind the managers of this. If it is, then you need to talk to your line manager and say that it is irritating you to the point where you cannot tolerate it any more and could you be moved to a quieter place? Be really apologetic (but firm) about it. This is a better tactic than continuing to get on to your colleagues because it is not their problem, it is a management issue. If it is a choice between moving you and taking action on the noise, the latter might be the simplest option. All workplaces should have a policy on music in the workplace and should enforce it. If a workplace allows music at work, they should also be prepared to accommodate 'quiet' areas for people who don't like/can't tolerate it. All this, of course, is only relevant if they are prepared to purchase the appropriate licence first.

Joanne Ms
Member - 1 post
7 Oct 2010 4:27PM

I work in an open office environment. There are two different radio stations/internet stations going on in the office. I have asked the co-worker closest to me to turn the volume off when she goes to lunch and/or break. She often forgets. What is the proper etiquette here. I have often reminded her via e-mail to turn her volume off as she agreed to. I think she doesn't even hear it anymore but I do. This is a real problem for me and for the work I do. She has been with the company longer and I don't feel I would have any management sympathy to my view of NO RADIO/NOISE played. I think if you want to listen to music, use headphones. I really struggle with this. Does anyone else??

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18 Aug 2009 7:47PM

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alan dimmock
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30 Mar 2009 5:39PM

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alan dimmock
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30 Mar 2009 5:39PM

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Anneli Beronius Haake
Member - 1 post
18 Mar 2009 1:05PM

Dear all,

I am a PhD student, and my thesis is about music listening in offices. I found it really interesting to read this thread, and it mirrors quite a lot of what I have found in my own research. Some people like it and need it, and would find it difficult to work without it - especially if they work in an open-plan office, or if they are doing something very repetitive. However, there are many issues too - disturbing colleagues and not being aware of what is going on around you being the main ones. No one likes being forced to listen to something they don't like, or something they find distracting - it can cause a lot of irritation. Of course there is a difference between headphone listening (which doesn't distract anyone else, but may disrupt communication) and speaker listening (which allows more communication but raises the issues of individual music taste etc).

I have interviewed people who are doing quite complex jobs in open plan offices, and who do not feel they are geting distracted by music via headphones. If they have chosen the music themselves, then it becomes more familiar (and subsequently less arousing - less distracting) than other office noises ('colleague chat' not relevant to them, etc). For them music is vital for concentration because of the external noises in their environment, and not listening to music would impair their performance more in these cases. But the key seems to be to be able to choose the music individually.

Anneli Beronius Haake
PhD student

ruth malkin
Member - 100 posts
16 Feb 2009 11:44AM

P Kennedy,
Have you done some research? You may find that many of your colleagues are fed up with the constant noise but not prepared to say so to their bosses (surprise surprise).
Have you any evidence that your bosses have tried to conduct an anonymous survey on it?
The other thing is - as I have said before - Deaf people find this particularly problematic. Most people over the age of 40 have some level of hearing impairment, and this makes background noise more intrusive than it is for other people. I know you may be reluctant to take this step, but have you thought of having a hearing test?
You could wear ear plugs (to relieve the stress it is causing you). Of course, you may not be able to hear your colleagues or the phone properly...
What about 'if you can't beat them join them'? Is there some music (classical, or Asian music for instance) that you really like? If so get your own radio. I may be underestimating your colleagues here, but I'm sure a day of radio three, or (heavens above!) radio four would have everyone reaching for the off switch.
I would be getting union advice if I was in your situation and in a union. It is simply not fair to you to have to put up with this. The solutions that have been proposed are not reasonable.

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