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View Full Version : UK: Performing Rights Society (PRS) fining shops


arkitect
Jan 19, 2009, 09:48 AM
Times are hard it seems…

BBC Link (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7833982.stm)

Music in the workplace may make the day pass quicker but it's a benefit that can come with a hefty price tag, as some small business owners are starting to find out.

Lyn Ball was preparing for her next customer at Mane Connections, the hair salon she runs in a market town in the South West of England, when a man, looking not unlike a sales rep, popped into her shop.

But far from trying to sell her anything the visitor introduced himself as being from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) and promptly issued her with a demand for a £200 music licence.

What had Ms Ball done to warrant this notice? Turn on her radio.

in the eyes of the PRS a workplace that ticks along to the backdrop of musical accompaniment is better than one that is suffused with silence - and that's worth paying for.

xUKHCx
Jan 19, 2009, 09:57 AM
:eek:

That is just plain down money grabbing. I would've told them to shove off.

Abstract
Jan 19, 2009, 10:02 AM
Our society is seriously ill.

arkitect
Jan 19, 2009, 10:06 AM
Probably just a matter of time before the PRS Agents are as hated as the Parking Wardens.

Incentives based on the number of fines issued.

afd
Jan 19, 2009, 10:51 AM
Ridiculous, most of the music I buy I first hear on the radio, If I'm not listening to the radio I won't know about any new music...

Raid
Jan 19, 2009, 11:41 AM
Um so how does this work again? I thought the radio stations pay royalties to play the music they do on the radio, so why must the listener also pay? Personally if I got this fine I'd probably use it for toilet paper and send it back postage due.

Silencio
Jan 19, 2009, 11:55 AM
Agents from ASCAP have been known to do this in the US, as well. Even more absurdly, they've gone into bars and waited for the band to play a cover song, then hit the bar owners up for royalty fees.

calculus
Jan 19, 2009, 11:56 AM
Nobody thinks people should be paid for their work then...

bartelby
Jan 19, 2009, 11:58 AM
Nobody thinks people should be paid for their work then...

Apparently not...

Abstract
Jan 19, 2009, 12:37 PM
I don't mind if bars are charged for playing music, as the music is played in bars to create a certain environment. The music played at bars is a secondary form of entertainment. Musicians should be compensated, since the radio, or the music from CDs/mp3s, are an integral part of maintaining the type of environment people want to go back to. Same with upscale clothing shops aimed towards younger people. Ever been in a clothing shop when the music just cuts out? Eerie. The hip clothing shop transforms instantly from modern and exciting, to an experience akin to shopping for boxers at Walmart. It's not the same, and shop owners know it. In fact, clothing shops purposely play faster music because people who are listening to faster music are more likely to make an impulse purchase. Same thing happens when a shop is a bit warm. The music is on for commercial reasons.

Now, ask me if I know whether the place I get my hair cut has the radio on? I have no idea, and I went last week. I used to get my hair cut at an old-fashioned barber shop where the old man liked to listen to the news radio station. Most of the time, it was dead silent in there because he insisted on talking to you while he cut your hair, but if the radio was on, it was for his benefit, not mine. As a customer, I certainly don't go for the music or atmosphere, nor does the music increase sales or entice me to go back to him.

To me, that's the problem. The radio may be on for their own personal benefit, not for commercial reasons. If the music is on for employees to listen to in order to kill time, it should be OK, IMO. However, if it's to drive sales, then they should pay.

djellison
Jan 19, 2009, 01:07 PM
Nobody thinks people should be paid for their work then...

They already are - by the radio stations.

CortexRock
Jan 19, 2009, 01:42 PM
Don't know how true this is, but it's a tale worth relating...

Apparently a live music pub owner in London had a tip off that a PRS agent was going to be in the crowd that night, with the express intention of stinging him for a fine for unlicensed copyright music being played by a cover band.

So, he told the cover band the score, and they proceeded to play a set made up of 25 second snippets of famous songs to outfox the evil clipboard-bearing automaton. :D

I heard from someone who works in venue licensing that in order to qualify for PRS interest, the length of music played has to be 30 seconds or longer.

Even if this isn't true, it's quite funny and I wish someone would do it!

remmy
Jan 19, 2009, 03:19 PM
Aren't they shooting themselves in the foot a bit? Surely if they're music is played on the radio, it will make the musician more popular and thus greater record sales, in a way its free advertising.

afd
Jan 19, 2009, 03:23 PM
Nobody thinks people should be paid for their work then...

Radio stations pay the artists to get to play their songs. people hear songs on radio, get to like songs then buy songs.
Sounds like the artists are getting paid to get their songs advertised to me.

.Andy
Jan 19, 2009, 03:29 PM
Hasn't this always been the case? From my unfortunately long retail experience it's been going on in Australia for at least since the 80's. You have the right to listen to music/radio stations personally, but you've no right to broadcast them to an audience/use them for your own retail purposes. I don't think it's different for any form of media is it?

If I were an artist of any kind I'd want a say over who used my art for commercial purposes.

Nickygoat
Jan 19, 2009, 03:46 PM
Um so how does this work again? I thought the radio stations pay royalties to play the music they do on the radio, so why must the listener also pay? Personally if I got this fine I'd probably use it for toilet paper and send it back postage due.

The theory behind it is that music helps workers perform better.

If workers perform more efficiently then the business will increase it's level of profits.

PRS wants a share of that.

The idiocy of the situation is that if you have, say, 5 workers all with their own radio, all tuned to the same station then it's Ok. 5 workers listening to the same radio? Pay up.

That noise you hear is the PRS shooting themselves in the foot.

All businesses that play music in a public space already have to pay the PRS and rightly so.

Raid
Jan 19, 2009, 04:06 PM
You have the right to listen to music/radio stations personally, but you've no right to broadcast them to an audience/use them for your own retail purposes.

I don't think it's different for any form of media is it? I can see what your getting at, but having other people present doesn't quite constitute an audience either. If you go to your auto mechanic and they are playing music are you there to listen to the music or to get your car fixed? Should all speakers be taxed because other people may here the sounds emanating from them?

Even if the attraction to said retail outlet was displaying the media content in a manner to generate business then a licensing fee still isn't so cut and dry. For instance a band or DJ performing at a club may directly use copyrighted content for their performance and gaining a direct benefit from it's use and therefore must pay for the music license.

However what about the local Starbucks playing a CD available for purchase in store (of course ;) ) while you sip on your coffee? They are getting a direct benefit from the sale of the CD, but are doing so only after making a deal with the record company. Do they still need a license?

I thought of Radio as a bit of a commercial circus, music is promoted and played to get you to buy the album/single, a fee is paid to play popular songs to get listeners to tune in so the radio station can sell ad spots at a premium so you can be sold to (again) while waiting for more music to come on. If you see it that way, the only non-commercial aspect of radio is the news and weather... brought to you by Mega Corp Inc. of course. ;)

The idiocy of the situation is that if you have, say, 5 workers all with their own radio, all tuned to the same station then it's Ok. 5 workers listening to the same radio? Pay up. Yep, classic free rider problem, because you can't opt out of hearing another persons radio.

bartelby
Jan 19, 2009, 04:29 PM
Don't know how true this is, but it's a tale worth relating...

Even if this isn't true, it's quite funny and I wish someone would do it!

It's not true. A venue needs a blanket music license. Part of the license's cost goes to the organisation that dishes out royalties.
If the venue doesn't have a licence, royalty payments are the least of their worries.


Also this fining of shops should not cover those having a radio playing. It will go to those shops playing cds/mp3s/tape etc. IIRC
Except those shops that sell cds etc...

calculus
Jan 19, 2009, 04:34 PM
They already are - by the radio stations.

That covers people listening to it at home, nothing else...

bartelby
Jan 19, 2009, 04:37 PM
That covers people listening to it at home, nothing else...

It covers all radio output:

I'm interested in playing music in my restaurant or other business. I know that I need permission for live performances. Do I need permission if I am using only CD's, records, tapes, radio or TV?

You will need permission to play records or tapes in your establishment. Permission for radio and television transmissions in your business is not needed if the performance is by means of public communication of TV or radio transmissions by eating, drinking, retail or certain other establishments of a certain size which use a limited number of speakers or TVs, and if the reception is not further transmitted (for example, from one room to another) from the place in which it is received, and there is no admission charge.

http://www.ascap.com/licensing/licensingfaq.html
The BMI has similar rules.

Abstract
Jan 19, 2009, 06:27 PM
I can see what your getting at, but having other people present doesn't quite constitute an audience either. If you go to your auto mechanic and they are playing music are you there to listen to the music or to get your car fixed?


They shouldn't have to. That was my point earlier. It doesn't make sense to have a tax if the music was never really intended to be part of the overall service and experience.


Even if the attraction to said retail outlet was displaying the media content in a manner to generate business then a licensing fee still isn't so cut and dry. For instance a band or DJ performing at a club may directly use copyrighted content for their performance and gaining a direct benefit from it's use and therefore must pay for the music license.

However what about the local Starbucks playing a CD available for purchase in store (of course ;) ) while you sip on your coffee? They are getting a direct benefit from the sale of the CD, but are doing so only after making a deal with the record company. Do they still need a license?

I don't know the law in each country, so of course I'm just going to state my opinion here. Yes, the local Starbucks should have to pay a licence fee. It's the right thing to do. They're playing music over the speakers to give their coffee house a certain ambience. Customers come for the coffee, but stay for the ambience. Nobody stays because the furniture is nice. ;) The nice environment also attracts customers to come back and relax at their nearest Starbucks again.



Aren't they shooting themselves in the foot a bit? Surely if they're music is played on the radio, it will make the musician more popular and thus greater record sales, in a way its free advertising.

That has always been the argument by websites and blogs that analyse this sort of thing, such as Techdirt (http://www.techdirt.com/). I agree with this 100% with regards to radio play. However, it's not the musicians that tend to have a problem with minor (potential) offences such as a radio being on at a hair salon. It's usually the record companies that are guilty of trying to collect money from all ears who hear a song, not the musicians. That's their job.....collect the money for airplay. Musicians make more money when more people listen to their music. It increases merchandise sales, concert sizes, and demand for tickets. There are plenty of examples of bands who have given away their music to increase the fan-base. An established musician who has done this is Prince, who gave his new album away in a newspaper to generate interest in his music, which increases demand for his concert tickets (limited supply), and thus increasing the price of said tickets. An example of a non-established band who became massive by increasing their fanbase early are the Arctic Monkeys, who made their early music free, and then began posting all their new songs on MySpace. Heck, people were requesting their music on radio stations before radio had ever had a copy of their album.

whooleytoo
Jan 20, 2009, 05:59 AM
That covers people listening to it at home, nothing else...

Call me crazy, but I think radio manufacturers are actually legally exposed on this issue.

They are selling a device which, when used normally and correctly, but in an office environment, will cause the end-user to be liable to significant fines (and more, if fines are unpaid). Yet, I've never seen a radio with any warning of such. I've never even seen it in the small print!!

If you listen to radio in your car, and other people are present, does that also make you a music pirate?

trule
Jan 20, 2009, 06:24 AM
They are selling a device which, when used normally and correctly, but in an office environment, will cause the end-user to be liable to significant fines (and more, if fines are unpaid). Yet, I've never seen a radio with any warning of such. I've never even seen it in the small print!!


Do we need more warnings and small print in this World :confused:

In the end its up to the copyright owners to determine how their music may be listened too. And if they decide that broadcasting a radio signal to anything other than a personal audience (family members) then so be it. It does not matter if you are broadcasting to make your employees less bored, if you have a public space and you play a radio then you are broadcasting in that space.

Yes, I know, play a radio in a park...what happens then...the PRS is a finite resource, much easier to go after shops, less likely to be assaulted.

Its the same for most DVD's, check the small print :D



But don't worry, it can get worse, the TV tax...you are required to pay the tax even if you don't watch broadcast TV :mad:

Schtumple
Jan 20, 2009, 07:47 AM
Nobody thinks people should be paid for their work then...

A large amount of the £200 probably goes into administration fees, then the record labels, with only a small percentage (probably) actually going to artists, and anyway, the money goes to the most popular artists, rather than who is actually being played, so it's all a farse anyway...

pianojoe
Jan 20, 2009, 08:18 AM
The theory behind it is that music helps workers perform better.

Wrong. The theory is that the music makes the place a more convenient place for customers. This is a public performance in oder to increase one's profit. You need a license to use the songwriter's intellectual property for this.

Nickygoat
Jan 20, 2009, 11:09 AM
Wrong. The theory is that the music makes the place a more convenient place for customers. This is a public performance in oder to increase one's profit. You need a license to use the songwriter's intellectual property for this.

Er, no actually.

There have been a number of cases of the PRS fining, or threatening, businesses that are playing music in areas with no customers, including Lancashire and Cleveland Police Forces (http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/2008/09/23/no-licence-for-police-84229-21874228/).

Indeed, the PRS themselves (http://www.prsformusic.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PPS%20Studies/Benefits%20of%20using%20music%20in%20your%20business.pdf) (links to PDF) say that it improves morale (scroll down a bit).

I've already noted that if it's in a public area then businesses have to pay; I'm referring to areas where no customer has access to.

alFR
Jan 21, 2009, 03:03 AM
Wrong. The theory is that the music makes the place a more convenient place for customers. This is a public performance in oder to increase one's profit. You need a license to use the songwriter's intellectual property for this.

If you choose your hairdresser based solely on the music they play you're going to end up with some sadass haircuts.

Raid
Jan 21, 2009, 08:06 AM
I don't know the law in each country, so of course I'm just going to state my opinion here. Yes, the local Starbucks should have to pay a licence fee. It's the right thing to do. They're playing music over the speakers to give their coffee house a certain ambience. Customers come for the coffee, but stay for the ambience. Nobody stays because the furniture is nice. ;) The nice environment also attracts customers to come back and relax at their nearest Starbucks again. I used the Starbucks example because often the music they play is a direct result of a commercial negotiation (I assume between the label and Starbucks corporate) and would probably include the right to play that music within the stores.

Really it's all assumption and theory, but the idea is that there's more that one reason why this PRS "fee" could be a lot of B.S. :)

Also I'd like to see the PRS come out with an economic model that evaluates the economic benefit/damage to an artist when a private business plays a radio broadcast that others in the premises can hear... you know over and above the royalties paid by the radio station. To me it sounds like double billing.

weckart
Jan 21, 2009, 03:09 PM
It's not true. A venue needs a blanket music license. Part of the license's cost goes to the organisation that dishes out royalties.
If the venue doesn't have a licence, royalty payments are the least of their worries.

Correct. Even if you only play your own composed music, you still need to pay the music licence from which a part will go to pay the likes of Britney Spears even though you have never played any of her music or are likely to. Unfair? Most certainly. However, any other form of licensing adds a layer of administration, which only serves to push up costs and consequently the cost of the licence. The only way to mitigate this is to sign up with the PRS, so that you can pay yourself in a roundabout way.

whooleytoo
Jul 31, 2009, 07:13 AM
If I had a small business such as this, I'd ask a neighbour to turn on the radio really loud in their apartment, so my customers can hear it.

Then they can't claim license fees for the store, since the music isn't being played on that premises. :)