Police forces in England and Wales paid £660,952 for licences so their staff could listen to music in offices in the past year.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed the highest expenditure was by the Metropolitan Police which paid £246,297 to the Performing Right Society which collects the fees and pays royalties to artists.
Seventeen forces spent more than £10,000. They included Thames Valley Police (£36,655), Devon and Cornwall Constabulary (£26,790), and Kent Police (£25,012).
The BBC reports the statistics were obtained by Bramley Parish Council clerk Robert Foulds of Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
"I discovered we were meant to pay for a licence when any music was played in the parish hall, such as people having a disco," Mr Foulds said.
"I then thought if we were going to get stung like that, what about the services paid by the public purse?"
The BBC reports the cost of licences depends on a variety of factors, including the number of listeners and whether music is played in a work or a recreational area.
Music used on telephone lines when people are put on hold also has to be paid for.
However, exceptions to police being liable to pay the licence fee include officers listening to a device through headphones or where music is needed in the investigation of a crime.
The Met said the licence covered the organisation for music played anywhere on its premises, "including that played on TV and radios in rest areas and employees having radios on for background".