Massive Hike In Fees For Venues Playing Music In The UK

from the this-won't-help dept

We've seen this time and time again. The various music collection societies around the globe have been trying to squeeze out more and more cash -- either by extending what counts as a "public performance" or by massively jacking up the rates on existing licensees. We saw this recently in Australia, where rates went up by ridiculous amounts. To a lesser extent, we've seen something similar in Canada with its 1,300% fee increase. And, now, something similar is coming to the UK, where PPL massively increased a bunch of its fees:

Bills for a typical ­wedding bash will soar from £30 to £380. Pubs which can now pay as little as £8 a night will have to fork out around £10,000 a year up front for a public ­performance licence.

The fee for nightclubs will zoom from £167 to a mind-boggling £6,667 for each event.

If you're playing along at home, that last case describes a fee increase of 3,900%.

Now, for the most part, such collectives are passing money on directly to musicians, and not to record labels or the like. So you could argue that this means that musicians make more money, so perhaps it's okay. But that's not taking into account the overall impact of such fee increases. They actually harm musicians in multiple ways. First, as you would expect with such a massive increase in fees, many venues simply stop agreeing to pay a license to play music. Many may just not play music at all any more, and what good does that do any musician? Fewer venues playing music isn't helping anyone. It also means that a lot more of these kinds of venues end up going out of business. We keep hearing stories of people complaining about fewer venues being around for music these days, and you can blame ridiculous price hikes like this one for that.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Major, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 3:37am

    Extortion

    Isn't that downright extortion ? I thought it was illiga-

    Oh ?! Someone just told me it actually is "Government Approved Monopolistic Extortion", it should be fine then !

    Nope sorry, i don't wanna play this G.A.M.E.

     

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    identicon
    anonymous, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:01am

    i think the best bet is for everyone to simply stop having anything to do with everything entertainment industry related. they dont want people to play music, watch films or anything else unless extortionate prices are paid. they dont want people to be able to enjoy themselves. they obviously want to keep everything to themselves and are doing as much as they can to achieve that. so let 'em keep the lot! governments are backing what is going on, so let them pay all the fees and wages wanted!

     

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      btrussell (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:45am

      Re:

      Exactly how I feel except for the last sentence.

      Do not consume their products. Paid or free. Downloads are not lost sales, but they are a notch upwards in how it is valued by "imaginary property" holders.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    peter, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:24am

    Funny how

    The record labels are desperate to get their new songs played on the radio/clubs/pubs as it is the way to reach a huge audience and drive sales, and then demand payment for the privilege of allowing these outlet to play their songs.

    It is just as if, for example, Pepsi are desperate for the lead actor to be seen drinking a can of Pepsi in the latest blockbuster film as it is a superb advertisement for their product, and then demanding a cut of every DVD rental.

    Is there now way of pointing out to these clowns just what is driving the sales of their products. Just in case any one of these Record executives are listening, let me point it out very simply.

    I buy one of your products because I have heard it on the radio/in a club/down the shops. If I never get exposed to your product, I AM NOT GOING TO BUY IT.

    There. Simple really.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:33am

    "They actually harm musicians in multiple ways. First, as you would expect with such a massive increase in fees, many venues simply stop agreeing to pay a license to play music."

    That could be a good thing. Maybe they'll start playing CC music and give those artists some exposure?

    /wishful thinking

     

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      The eejit (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:40am

      Re:

      They'll still be charged anyway. 'Cause, y'know, MUSIC!!! PIRATES!!! INDUSTRY!!!

       

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      Richard (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:41am

      Re:

      Maybe they'll start playing CC music and give those artists some exposure?

      Tell the PRS / PPL that you are doing that - and expect them to believe you??

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 7:46am

      Re:

      Having spent several decades in the Hospitality business, I think I would immediately start to research live bands that write their own music. The contract would state, no cover songs, no music you did not write yourself and own the copyright and performance rights to.

      Obviously this could not happen overnight, and has numerous issues, such as a request for an old favorite, which would have to be refused, incensing the guest. Not very hospitable.

      A long time ago, we had a fight with (either ASCAP or BMI, I forget) about our MUZAK system. They collected from MUZAK and now wanted to collect from us as well. It took much too much management time (we were running a business, our managers worked), which did not recoup even when we won.

      The slim margins in the Hospitality business (lets leave out the casino portion for now) do not allow for a large percentage of Gross sales for entertainment. The idea of paying this extortion in order to differentiate oneself from competitors should be frightening to anyone who holds an interest in ANY Hospitality operation.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:43am

    Shoddy and sensationalist journalism!

    As much as it would definitely be insanely ludacris for PPL to increase their fees by as much as their consultation document suggests (around 2000% in some cases). It is just as irresponsible for journalists to play down or, as was done in this article, totally ignore the fact that PPL is in the consultation stages of this process. This does not mean that the rates they are proposing is what will be charged at the end of the day, or, again as this article reports, is currently being charged! To a point I'm as anti-G.A.M.E. as the next person, but I still try to be fair and honest when passing on the facts.

     

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      Richard (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:48am

      Re: Shoddy and sensationalist journalism!

      Maybe - but in the UK we've go a public sector pay freeze at present - so there is no case for increasing the rates at all.

       

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      The eejit (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 8:48am

      Re: Shoddy and sensationalist journalism!

      Wages (excepting for the very few in Canary Wharf and football grounds all over) are static. From an economic perspective, this is at best moronic and at worst a suicide attempt.

       

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    Richard (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:45am

    Money to Musicians

    Now, for the most part, such collectives are passing money on directly to musicians, and not to record labels or the like.

    Correction - passing money to already rich musicians - having taken thst money from ordinary jobbing musicians.

    This is a wealth redistribution scheme from poor to rich musicians.

     

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    JackHerer (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:51am

    PPL is for record labels

    PPL's members are mainly record labels, it licenses things related to the copyright in the sound recording which is usually owned by the record label. PRS/MCPS is the equivalent for the copyright in the musical work (i.e. the composition) and it's members are mainly musicians, song writers and publishers. How much of these fees actually ends up with artists depends on their particular recording contract and/or whether they own the copyright in the sound recording.

     

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    martyburns (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:54am

    Call to pub goers in the UK

    If you notice that your local has is not playing music go have a chat to the bar staff and see if they know why. Then recommend some of the free sites like (I think) Jamendo.

    What other sites allow for free play in a public place like a pub?

     

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      martyburns (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:03am

      Re: Call to pub goers in the UK

      OK, so I see Jamendo isn't free, but it is ahelluva lot cheaper:

      http://pro.jamendo.com/en/product/background/prices

       

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      •  
        identicon
        tom, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:19am

        Leaving PPL and PRS

        funnily enough its the fact that i am a memnber of PPL and PRS that i cannot submit my music to Jamendo Pro. I emailed PRS about wanting to leave them last year, their reply: 'You need to send us a signed letter requesting that we terminate your membership and giving us a brief explanation of why you wish to leave and what collection society you wish to join.' has sat in my intray for a year. But after the ACTA thing and getting an email from PPL braying about how great it was for artists (the dead ones getting an extra 20 years to produce more art from beyond the grave) i dug up the email and am hoping to get round to writing it today. The answer to 'what collection society you wish to join' will of course be none.

         

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          identicon
          anonymous, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:46am

          Re: Leaving PPL and PRS

          what business is it of theirs or anyone's why you want to leave? it is your decision to terminate membership and you're within your rights to do so when you want (assuming you didn't sign a contract that prevents you from leaving within a certain time frame?). as for requesting? i think telling is nearer the mark!

          i think a brief explanation would be 'i wish to terminate my membership with your organisation, effective immediately,' (give the date).

           

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            identicon
            Tom, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 6:47am

            Re: Re: Leaving PPL and PRS

            its just tempting to try to be clever enough to make a good point to them about how i dislike what the are doing. Not that they would pay any attention.

             

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              The eejit (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 8:49am

              Re: Re: Re: Leaving PPL and PRS

              "I hate paying for the companies you represent to partake in legally-grey activities" should be a good start.

               

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 4:56am

    Seems a basic lesson in economics is required....

     

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    identicon
    Call me Al, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:16am

    Does this mean that some of my local pubs and bars will stop playing music? That would be awesome as it would allow me to chat to friends without having to shout at them.

    As for the actual consultation document, the PPL clearly thinks they can get away with this. Many venues will complain bitterly but pay up anyway as they feel they have no choice.

     

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    Vincent Clement (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:40am

    That £380 for a wedding works out to around $615 Canadian dollars. I don't think I paid that much for the DJ at my wedding 16 years ago.

    How do they figure $615 when a song costs 99 cents in iTunes? Over the course of a wedding reception, a DJ may play 100 songs. That's $6 per song.

    From the article:

    "Its income rose £12million to £143million last year."

    Well if your income increased by 10 times, why not charge even more, so your income can increase be another 10 or 100 times. Incredible.

     

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      identicon
      an-other-onymous, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 6:03am

      Re:

      slight correction to your maths:
      Income rose £12m == "rose BY" not "rose FROM", so about 10%, not 10 fold. Still not bag going in the current climate.

       

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      identicon
      an-other-onymous, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 6:03am

      Re:

      slight correction to your maths:
      Income rose £12m == "rose BY" not "rose FROM", so about 10%, not 10 fold. Still not bag going in the current climate.

       

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      identicon
      T Wilson, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 6:42am

      Re:

      From your numbers it increased by just under 10% or "0.1 times"

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:47am

    "The fee for nightclubs will zoom from £167 to a mind-boggling £6,667 for each event."

    This is the most ridiculous increase by far. I mean seriously, how much profit do they think nightclubs make an event? The answer is almost certainly not not 6,000+ dollars. Seriously, does someone have some moral (or religious) vendetta against nightclubs and want to drive them all out of business simply because they don't like the nightclub business and how they perceive nightclubs are effecting the community?

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 5:52am

    I read this story and I had to laugh. Mike, you have opened up a can of worms on this one.

    First up, let's talk about the "shortage" of live music venues. This sort of goes against your whole idea of giving away the music and collecting on the scarce, the "musician as a worker" mentality that would have them doing hundreds of shows a year to make a living. If the venues are disappearing, it's because there isn't enough demand at a reasonable price to make it work out. So if there is a shortage of live venues, but live show revenue is going up, it's ticket prices that have increased dramatically, no?

    Second, while you do provide a link to an article, the article itself is lacking any and all detail. The example "67 to 1600" increase, what sort of venue? Is it a single venue? Is it because of a change of vocation? Are they moving from recorded music only to live performance? We don't know because there are no details, and nobody else seems to be talking about the story.

    Third, I think what you are seeing is the birds of piracy coming home to roost. If you aren't paying for the music to buy, you will end up paying for it somewhere else. Licensing is one of those ways to get the money back lost on the other side. Remember the old "there is no such thing as a free lunch"? Well, more so here, you choose what to have for your free lunch, and it comes with an expensive desert. You earned it!

    As a sub-text on all this, I would say that my opinions voiced a couple of years back appear to be true. Significant increases in "live" ticket sale revenue has little to do with huge increases in live shows, rather it has everything to do with top acts charging 3 - 10 times as much for their tickets. So much for the little starving artist getting more money, right Mike?

     

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      identicon
      frosty840, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 6:36am

      Re:

      Or a bunch of people pricing themselves out of each section of the market as they kill a successive series of golden-egg-laying geese in an effort to retain an unretainable market dominance are moving their efforts along to the next goose in the series...

       

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      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 6:41am

      Re:

      First, I'm not sure where you are getting the shortage of live venues from. Even if there is, why would people have a live venue when the licensing cost is higher then the income?

      Second, this isn't about one place getting it's licenses changed, these are the overall rules. A night club that played recorded music, now pays significantly more for the same thing.

      Third, you take a market that's actually making money and decide to punish it for another market that isn't?

      Sub-text, every concert I've gone to was inexpensive. I went to the Blink182 and My Chemical Romance concert for $20, Weird Al was $30. You need to stop buying your tickets from scalpers.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 7:25am

        Re: Re:

        first: " We keep hearing stories of people complaining about fewer venues being around for music these days, and you can blame ridiculous price hikes like this one for that."

        That is a direct quote.

        Second, where are you getting the information? Not from the linked article, that is for sure, it has less information than talentless schmuch Marcus Carab's profile page.


        Third, no, but if there is no money made elsewhere, they will up licensing to make the money back. You didn't pay at one end, you get to pay at the other instead.

        Considering yourself lucky on concert tickets, in the UK is isn't unusual to pay closer to US$100 for a regular ticket, and the big names (like Bon Jovi) were charging upwards to $500 a ticket.

         

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          identicon
          Call me Al, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 8:59am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm not a regular but I've never paid more than £30 (c$45) for a ticket in the UK. Though I'll admit I don't go to any big name concerts. I guess it all depends on what you are looking to see.

          I do agree that Mike's use of language was a little sloppy but my reading of the "venues" comment was in respect of places which play recorded music rather than those that have live music. His comments about live music have generally been about how strong it seems to be these days. I could be wrong though.

           

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          The eejit (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 12:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You're on smack. Seriously.

          Within the last year, I've been to concerts at the MEN, the Liverpool Echo, and the Lowry. They cost at most £35, which is currently around $55, and I KNOW that they can go higher. The fact that the venue is being charged (in the MEN's case) around £450,000 for next year's license for artists to play their own music is mind-boggling.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Then you wonder why fewer and fewer people go to concerts LoL

           

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 7:27am

      Re:

      "Licensing is one of those ways to get the money back lost on the other side."

      You're one of those dumb soccer commentators/fans that, when the game ends tied, immediately exclaims "Team X just lost two points!" aren't you?

      It's a nice trick. Makes things look a lot worse than they really are.

       

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      surfer (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 3:59pm

      Re:

      at what point are you going to realize that piracy is copyrights' fault, and nobody else?

      I already have enough music to create a 24/7/365 streaming playlist that doesn't start over for 5 years.

      I already have enough movies to watch 2 a night and not start over for 5 years.

      I already have enough tv shows (with no commercials mind you) like Space 1999 (try and buy that one!), M*A*S*H*, all the way up to Enterprise, Stargate Universe and True Blood to watch 5 episodes a night and not start over for 6 years.

      That's;
      Songs: 3,693,800
      Movies: 3,650
      VT Shows: 10,950

      For willful infringement, I can see where the 58 billion number comes from, I owe $27,703,500,00

      I read your post and had to laugh!

       

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  •  
    icon
    AJ (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 6:21am

    PPL = Phonographic Performance Licenses

    Since these licenses are to play recorded music I would think the price increase would encourage the hiring of cheap live musicians instead. That would obviously be to the advantage of those musicians, but bad for those members of PPL who charge higher fees or don't play live at all...

     

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      The eejit (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

      Re: PPL = Phonographic Performance Licenses

      It's also going to be for live music, as well.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 3:34pm

      Re: PPL = Phonographic Performance Licenses

      Only if the musician can prove that the songs he play are his own and that he is not a member of any collection society else the party would be hit with a bill or a lawsuit.

       

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    Robert Doyle (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 6:49am

    So I'm at home...

    Do I have to pay when I have friends over? How about if I own a restaurant and live upstairs and just leave my stereo on really loud? Is there a law against playing music near an establishment as opposed to in it?

     

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      Planespotter (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

      Re: So I'm at home...

      In the UK you won't have to pay if you have a private party, as long as you don't charge an entry fee or invite too many people "too many" is a number decided by PPL or PRS when they decide to take you to court.

      If you leave your radio on really loud in your flat above your restaurant then you are liable and would need to pay PPL and PRS.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    anon, Oct 4th, 2011 @ 7:30am

    new tactics

    1) pub - group together and attack the legal definition of "public performance"
    2) until then, select non-uk music (not covered by uk licensing schemes) and play that

     

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    alex (profile), Oct 4th, 2011 @ 9:13am

    credible source?

    I can't find anything else about this story, including on the PPL site. Where is this from?

     

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