New Zealand Hairdresser Gets Bill For Playing Music In Her Shop

from the public-performances... dept

For years, we’ve questioned why it makes sense for various songwriters’ collection societies to charge a license fee for playing music in various restaurants and shops. In the past, most of the focus on enforcement has been in restaurants and bars, where music is more central to the experience — but even then, it’s always seemed like the music helps draw more interest in people going out and actually paying that musician for something. It’s promotional. However, in the past few years, collections groups have become a lot more aggressive. From going after auto repair shops because their mechanics listened to radios in the garage that customers could hear in the waiting room (public performance!) to police stations where cops listened to music too loud (public performance!), these rights societies consistently seem to be shooting themselves in their collective feet.

The latest, sent in by Lawrence D’Oliveiro, involves a hairdresser in New Zealand who had the temerity to have a radio playing in her shop (public performance!). Of course, the real solution to this isn’t to pay, but to stop playing music. Music is not central to the hairdressing process, though, by not playing music, the shop would certainly seem a lot less welcoming. Either way, the whole thing seems backwards. If they’re playing the music off the radio, then it’s been licensed already, and if it’s off a personal CD or MP3 player, it’s been paid for in other ways.

We’re still waiting for the day when one of these collections societies goes after someone playing music in their car with the top or windows down (public performance!) or maybe someone on a beach with a radio (public performance!). Perhaps what they really want is for everyone to do everything with their own personal music players and earphones jacked in. There should be no sharing or promoting of music whatsoever without a special license.

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Comments on “New Zealand Hairdresser Gets Bill For Playing Music In Her Shop”

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Peter Blaise Monahon (profile) says:

Re: singers versus songwriters - just what is a royalty for?


“Singwriters” got paid for their performance. “SONGwriters get the royalties, or part of it, according to contract. THAT’S what this is all about – the owner of the copyright wants a royalty for each public performance beyond the sale of the performance medium, that is, they want to get paid for the CD sale, then also get paid for anyone additionally listening to that CD.

Cool or what? I wanna be a songwriter!


Oh NOOOO says:

No $60 what is the world coming to when a government agency requires you to pay $60 for playing the radio. They should burn in hell. Singwriters aren’t even good enough to be performers so they can suck it and find another way to create revenue. Maybe they can have websites and blog about how terrible ads on websites are but then on their very website have ads. They would because they are talentless hacks who only write words and the same chord progressions in different keyes.

Just Another Moron in a Hurry says:


How does that even make sense? The radio station that is playing the song has already paid for the fees to broadcast the song, right? So as long as you are just playing the radio, it seems like there isn’t any legal grounds to stand on. I could almost see an argument for a CD, which hasn’t been paid for as a public performance deal. Not for a radio.

bshock (profile) says:

where is this going?

Some have suggested that the ultimate goal of Big Media is to force everyone into wearing the “DRM Helmet,” a device that would screen out any unauthorized sights and sounds. (Or perhaps it would simply detect unauthorized sights and sounds, and automatically draw money from your bank account to pay for your experience.)

I believe this doesn’t going nearly far enough. It’s clear that you don’t actually buy the experience of listening to a song or watching a film. As a sort of “virtual rental property” then, the only fair solution is to scrub the memory of media from the human brain itself. Big Media might be generous enough to allow its audiences to retain some memory of the experience, but such misguided generosity might lead to less than maximum profit. After all, if a person realizes he’s seen a film before, he might not want to see it again.

And fortunately for the noble concept of Intellectual Property, medical technology has even provided a drug that can accomplish such a selective memory wipe:

Anonymous Coward says:

Doesn’t it seem absurd to bill someone for something they are doing that is saving you money? Honestly, a hair dresser playing music is providing them a limited duration, captive, audience for free. Isn’t that the holy grail of advertising? A free, receptive, audience who are willingly exposing themselves to your product and advertising?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Pay for Radio?

Are royalties not paid by the radio station to broadcast the song in the first place? Are these collection agencies not trying to get paid twice for the same thing?

Yes, and yes. Getting paid twice is the bare minimum they seek — they would really like to get paid each and every time you listen. I’m surprised they don’t charge per speaker, so that if you listen in mono you pay one price, stereo another price, and if you have wireless speakers on your patio, you pay yet again. You shouldn’t be able to listen to the same song in your basement and your patio at the same time, because you can’t be in both places at the same time. Thus, you should pay once per location. Or twice, if you have stereo speakers. If you have quadraphonic sound, you should pay four times.

You can fight back by not buying music, except at garage sales or second-hand shops.

Tucchus Johnson says:

big deal?

i don’t understand why everyone goes so crazy. if a business choses to have radio music in their setting, it’s a form of entertainment that requires payment, and this is how it’s been laid out for a long time. otherwise they can put on an ipod with artists that aren’t even in the collection agency’s system, and not have to be subject to the terms that every other business is under.

i will concede that it’s ironic the collection agencies spend so much time on this stuff, while up here in canada, TV commercials aren’t forced to sign up with SOCAN. so for instance, my music gets played every week and i don’t see a penny because these particular gigs i took on just paid me up front. it’s frustrating to say the least.

You never know says:

Re: big deal?

Perhaps you would like to rethink this a bit, Tucchus Johnson. The reason one wants to have air time is to get their music out to the public. That way people will want to come to the concerts and buy the albums, Or at least that’s the way it used to be. Now the radio stations have to pay royalties to play the music, but that’s OK because they turn revenue from the advertisers. Now to expecting the public to be pay just because some one happens to overhear their radio, and don’t say it couldn’t and wouldn’t happen, This is just ludicrous!!! The general public will just stop listening to broadcast music and that will directly hurt you Mr. Johnson, like it or not!

Jon says:

Just a suggestion...

How about adding a fee on the purchase of any set of speakers in the U.S.? Since a speaker may emit music which could be heard by someone who did not license the music themselves, the music industry clearly needs to preemptively collect revenues on the sale of each speaker.

It only makes sense. At some point in their lives, almost every single American has intentionally or unintentionally broken the law by hearing music which they did not pay for; much of it through radio stations. For years, they’ve been hearing music for free, so it only makes sense to pass the cost along to them.

Hey, here in Canada the music industry puts a fee on every recordable CD sold. How long before a fee is added to every device which can emit music? Someone must be breaking the law, right? Best to cast a wide net.


Anonymous Coward says:

Don't they get paid by increased ad revenue?

I worked at a radio/tv station, and we actively tried to get businesses to play the radio. That increased the number of listeners which increased both ad revenue and increased the amount of money we had to pay in royalties. That seems like a very efficient way for the recording industry to collect money for radios being played in businesses. There is a single point of payment (the radio station) for literally thousands of businesses. They might be able to get more if they bill each business individually, but the thought of that billing system seems mind-boggling.

There is a business model that allows businesses to pipe in commercial-free music as well as models that allow them to inject their own ads or receive ad revenue from the piped in music. However, small shops are not willing to pay under those models. They perceive radio music as free. Most businesses that play radio music would simply turn off the music, not pay. That will reduce radio ad revenue which will in turn reduce royalty payments to the music industry. A few businesses might switch to a paid system, but with the economy tightening small businesses are generally not going to be willing to take on an additional expense.

Rob (profile) says:

I don't buy it!

My solution … don’t buy any music from any label. The only music I buy is directly from the artist/performer at the performance.

Oh, I wonder why public establishments don’t collect and play music licensed under Creative Commons. Someone, maybe me, could put together several mixes of elevator-quality CC music into a collection that can be downloaded and put on a CD or digital player.

Anonymous Coward says:

It seems to me the solution is...

It seems to me the solution is simple. Go to local artists that own the copyright to thier music and get a release to play thier CD’s in your shop.

In fact, you could setup a consortium of some sort locally to fight this. Like creative commons on a much smaller local level. And you could cross sell by asking the shop to stock a couple CD’s to sell to people who ask.

Paul says:

Can I point out that its the radio station thats doing a public preformance? I have heard storys of cows in a field geting radio because the barb wire fence managed to get a station so the signals are there because of the station.

I would honestly just let them take me to court over something as stupid as this, and let the judge laugh them out. I think they would settle (or attempt to) because once a judge says you cant do that noone else would pay.

pseudonihm says:

Wait a minute...

These are all about playing the radio, right? A)Radio is NOT a performance, it’s a recording, and B) no matter if it’s a recording or broadcast, it’s already been paid for. You either bought the CD, mp3 or whatever medium it on, or the radio station paid it’s royalty to air it. Either way, they’re trying to get paid twice. Can I charge them for listening?

Jesse says:

“in canada, TV commercials aren’t forced to sign up with SOCAN. so for instance, my music gets played every week and i don’t see a penny because these particular gigs i took on just paid me up front. it’s frustrating to say the least.”

Imagine that. Get paid once for doing the work once. I too live in Canada, and work as a lifeguard. Perhaps if I save someone’s life, I should get paid for every day they are alive afterwards. Sure I got paid for the work I did that day, but after all, they wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me. You said it brother: it is frustrating to not get paid multiple times for the same work.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Store Owner vs Collection Agency

Collection Agency:
We are going to need to you pay us for this public performance you are putting on.

Store Owner:
Public performance? Do you see me sitting here cutting people’s hair, or do you see me with an amp and guitar playing music for people with the radio as backup.

You appear to be cutting hair.

Then go fuck yourself.

Tucchus Johnson says:

i got a rise!

hey great to see i got some people inflamed by my comments.

You never know: i hear you, but the hairdresser isn’t a regular member of the public. that’s the corporate sector. you’re right though that the public ends up paying because when hit with more bills, the owner of the business is likely to pass that on with slightly higher prices.

lickity split and jesse: i’m merely commenting on how SOCAN has it all wrong in Canada when they spend so much time policing pop radio, yet aren’t looking out for indie composers.

i dont think you can compare lifeguarding in one location to music that gets re-exploited across the country on a variety of television networks. the royalty streams are clearly there for a reason – the biggest is because the people who commissioned the ads don’t have to pay more money than is necessary if their ad isn’t going to get used often.

anyways it’s a little off-topic i’m sorry for bringing my own annoyances here.

Jesse says:

No it’s okay, and for the record (so to speak) I am also a musician, and my music is registered with SOCAN (not that I wanted to, my manager did it despite my objections.) In fact, indy musicians can register with SOCAN if they so choose.

You call it exploiting, but I ask…what new work have you done? You are asking to be paid again and again, because somebody is ‘exploiting’ the fruits of your labor.

What is frustrating about royalties is that even if it made sense, there is no consideration being made regarding the free publicity the artist receives. This situation with the hairdresser: it’s as if a clothing company sells t-shirts with their logo, and when the buyer walks around, freely advertising their product, the t-shirt company asks for performance royalties. I’m sorry, but you’ve already been paid once and now I am freely advertising your product.

We all want to get paid multiple times for our work, but the “imaginary property” guys have actually found a way to make it happen. Maybe the rest of us are just jealous.

Tucchus Johnson says:

sorry i didn’t clarify that “exploitation” is common terminology when you talk about a song being replayed – not in the context that we know it with slavery or whatever.

but the reality is when dealing with many forms of art is that the person is paid nothing upon creation of the work and therefore the royalties help renumerate the work as it plays its course in the world.

sometimes you can get an advance which is basically a loan against any future royalties, so you’re still technically not paid anything.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Re: Create Your Own "Association"

“The unexpected bill was from the Australasian Performing Rights Association, an organisation she had never heard of before.” So who authorizes the “Association” to protect the copyright holders???? The article doesn’t say.

Does this mean that anyone can declare themselves as a bounty hunter for collecting fees on behalf of the copyright holders???? Great opportunity for self-employment!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Under the public performance right, a copyright holder is allowed to control when the work is performed “publicly.” A performance is considered “public” when the work is performed in a “place open to the public or at a place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances are gathered.”

“Social acquaintances” Don’t we all socialize when we meet one another ? We are all one big family, right ?

Blue Biker says:

Don’t the radio stations pay the FCC to broadcast on the “Public Airwaves”? and have been doing so since the invention of AM radio? The stations sell advertising space to make money, and pay the record labels to play artists’ music. I’ve paid for the music I play in my car. Do I now have to pay again for blasting my music with my windows down as I’m driving down the highway at 70 mph? Public Performance? You’ve got to be kidding me! Are the women at the hair salon going there specifically to listen to the music? I think not. Which is why you don’t see any hair salons on the floor of Madison Square Garden during a concert.

People are listening to music while they work to make the worktime a little more pleasant. Not to profit from it. They’re not selling tickets to the waiting room of the auto repair shop or the hair salon. This is just greedy people looking to squeeze every last cent from the public. Don’t you think that if the salon owner has to pay a fee to play music that they’re just going to eat the cost? Of course not! They’ll raise the price of their services to pay for the licensing fee.
It’s about as silly as the deaf asking for a refund from the recording industry for all the music that they will never listen to.

Tiredofitall says:

A better way

Since playing “their” music isn’t an option apparently, and not playing music at all makes for less inviting business environments, then why not just support royalty free music. Sure, it isn’t well known music but guess what? It would be if that’s all we could listen to without earbuds in all the time. The well-known artists would suffer due to their own label’s use of these groups. It’s just dumb all around. Maybe we’re just better off going back to the 1999 Napsters of the world?

Not a lawyer says:

What about the law in the USA

This was in New Zealand, apparently this outfit is self appointed??? only in Australia and NZ.If you look at their site for their fees, my little bookstore (which sells a few CDs and videos)would have to pay them thousands per year.
What are the laws here? If I play the local radio station in my bookstore (Which the local radio station encourages!) or play samples of CDs or videos that I’m selling (Which the distributor encourages!), am I breaking any licensing agreements, or laws? Am I opening myself up to potential law suits here in the USA?

Jesse says:

The example you chose was one where you were paid up front but received no royalties.

However, assuming a case where an artist is not paid at all; that brings up a tricky point. If you do work that nobody requests in the first place, then what should the compensation (if any) look like? So if I write and record a song, should I ask somebody to pay for it later? I am not against the idea of an artist being compensated for work, but there are a few dynamics that are worth discussing.

First of all, if the artist is producing music as a hobby, then how does that work?…I’m sure most people would love to get paid for their hobbies, but the world does not work that way. Secondly, when does the compensation stop? Why should an artist be compensated well past a fair hourly rate of the time put in to producing that content. If an artist produces a song, but then a record label puts in a lot of ongoing work to market it and increase the fanbase, then isn’t it the artist freeloading off of the work of the label instead of the other way around?

Again, just because somebody finds some benefit from your work does not mean you are necessarily entitled to a cut of that benefit. This is not a zero sum game; just because somebody else benefits, that does not mean you lose. In fact, in your example with the commercial, both parties are benefiting, it’s just that you have the perception that the other party is benefiting more than you. You see that as being unfair, even though you are both better off than if the commercial did not take place, or if they had used someone else’s music.

Tucchus Johnson says:

sorry Jesse, in one of my cases i was paid up front for a service, but i’m referring to larger picture of the article with the hairdresser – on the whole an artist making normal music is not paid for their work until it does well.

Big Brother: the whole advertising industry works on a system of “impressions”. ad space is priced according to how many people it will hit. if companies are paying more to run their ads more times and to hit more people, then why in some cases does that increased revenue generated on the project not get passed on to certain people?

i don’t know how much more time i can spend here, you guys are quite clever and find any loophole in an argument you can see. i’ve seen this on almost every blog post on this site and i sort of admire the dedication that you guys have in playing devil’s advocate all day long.

it was my choice to waive my rights for a one-off, but SOCAN is asleep at the wheel up here because the agencies shouldn’t have this option- and i’m not alone on this issue. i believe the States has it right though.

i’m not a master at royalties in television, but clearly there is a reason for it if there are so many performing rights agencies operating around the world. if there wasn’t a need for it, then no TV producer would use the service. they would say, “why do i need to pay this crap”? but for some reason the ads are off the hook.

maybe because they are seen as a break from normal programming and everyone’s busy stuffing their face while they’re on hehe

Brian Hayes (user link) says:

But, but...

There’s one true and good purpose in fees and that’s to applaud the art.

It took 100s of years to own property. And blood was spilled to make room for beauty too. Nowadays are we saying, “If you feed me I’ll pay you, but happiness I’ll steal”?

Art won’t feed us nor clothe us, but what do we do to treat it well? We’re in an age of terrific flux.

Marketers may have took too much and we resent it. Somehow we must fix bullies and corruption. But I think it’s damn important to make sure there’s money in the hat when we enjoy a product.

Jesse says:

I doubt many people here see themselves as playing devil’s advocate. I don’t get paid to go to school, nor would I get paid a substantial amount to establish a business. And you are absolutely right that most artists don’t make a lot of money until they establish a fanbase. Nor do most lawyers do well until they establish some clientele. If I am able to put myself through medical school, I am not going to ask to be paid retroactively for the decade I put in to learning my trade, instead I will expect to be compensated for the work I will do.

The article with the hairdresser is an awful example to pick: the artist was already paid when the radio station licensed the music. Would it be different if everyone in the hair salon had their own personal radio? I bet the hairdresser would do well to respond by having a separate (cheap) radio for every individual in the joint, then at least you could argue that the music was appropriately “licensed.” That is, unless you want individuals to pay for a license to listen to radio.

What it seems you are advocating, sir, is that artists be paid multiple times for their work. If you want to pay fellow artists everytime you listen to a song, then by all means do, but don’t expect the rest of us to.

Happy Phil (user link) says:

Recordings do not perform

A musician sings and plays a song. That is a performance. That performance is recorded. That is a recording. The recording is played at a radio station and broadcast in some electronic manner that travels well. That is a signal. That signal is received by a radio that reconstitutes it into a recognizable facsimile of the recording. That is not a performance.

Brian Hayes (user link) says:

Well then...

OK. OK. What’s in the spectrum is free, say, but how is it put there?

The chief of Sony said to Charlie Rose recently that no one will put up $200mil for a movie production if no one needs to buy a ticket because production will disappear soon unless there’s a solution to compensation. He said the current music biz is a mess and it’s scaring investors to the core. A “performance” isn’t always as cheap as a guy and a microphone

Crazy Finn says:

In Finland shops, hairdressers, retirement homes, taxis, banks etc must pay too fee for the ‘right’ to play radio or cd-s. They even discussed about charging kindergardens because kids singing children songs and churches for hymnes.

Listening fee depends. Restaurants 15 – 300 €/month, hotels 9- 211 €/month, shops 13+ €/month, taxi 32 €/ year…

Brian Hayes (user link) says:

A different America

Gee whiz. Unlike Finland, if indeed there’s an idea that works, we’re stuck with conflict that injures all sides.

Malls, shops, hairdressers, retirement homes, taxis, banks, bars, restaurants, schools, landlords with elevators, casino and church and government, factories and farmer’s markets put little in the pot while peanuts reach most artists. A handful siphon millions. Consumers are sued without a receipt.

This is a huge issue that won’t end until it’s fair.

John Smith says:

I don’t GAS who wants what for what. I will pay NOTHING.
Public (as in EVERYBODY) Radio has been played & listened to since long before any drm, tv bs, ipod crap was even thought of. Guess what? Radios were made portable decades ago.
This is like charging for air waves based upon the location you stand. Apparently they consider that a business is not allowed free ota radio broadcast.
I own the radio and the right to stand where I stand and so you can now GFYcollectiveSelves.
Next they will require all radios to have a super sensitive gps so that it will only play at locations that were PREpaid for. I’ll run right out for that one for sure.

James P Smith JR (user link) says:

fined for playing music?

I am not only a Hairdresser, but a performance artist, makeup artist, model, and Human, What the hell? I have never heard of such a thing, people being fined for playing music, it sounds like a group of people need to get together and go after the groups targeting them, there is a certain freedom on this planet, free to be human, and free to express ones self in any form they see fit, any one who tries to silence that in what ever form they choose to represent needs to be not only challenged, but brought down. Power to the people. Never live in silence, Never Blend in.

Anonymous Coward says:

I dont now were you all live, but I am glad I dont live there, public performance fees? hell no, dont you all have civil rights groups, and attorneys, start a grass roots organization and take there fuckers down, it really is power to the people, theres more of you then there are of them, Fight for your rights, Stand up and be counted. put an end to it,

Leva Copyright Guru says:

right to broadcast and right to perform music publicly are two separate kinds of music usage.
If you are a shop owner – you can play whatever you want – radio, tv, CDs, etc – for a fixed royalty rate. These royalties are not a tax – they are distributed to songwriters and their publishers.
Public performance fees are in force in EU and the other world as well. I don`t see what the fuss is about.
You know how the copyright was born? In a cafe called Ambassadeurs in France, when a composer stopped playing his songs for free and demanded a meal in return for his works.

The author of this article is ignorant of the very basic legal issues as regards copyright. Please contact your local copyright society for more info. AND – if a shop gets more customers because of music – why the songwriters should not be paid for their work?

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