Hey, Mr DJ. Turn the music off?
Believe it or not, this editor was once in a band. In fact, it was taking up the post at Pub & Bar that brought that deluded dream to a realistic halt. Literally dozens of fans were devastated.
We did OK for a while, playing shows around the country, occasionally to people who had actually come to see us, rather than just the sound guy and the folks from the support bands (Staines on a Tuesday night was always fun). Venues varied from gig to gig, but that time in my life gave me access to some of the most wonderful sites; businesses with the sole mission of supporting grassroots musicians, DJs and promoters. The Boileroom in Guildford, Night and Day in Manchester, The Half Moon in Putney – as well as letting chancers like us grace their venues, these places have had some legendary acts perform over the years. They are institutions.
Last month’s news that Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) is planning to introduce a new Specially Featured Entertainment (SFE) tariff struck a personal chord with me. While my experience relates to live music, the SFE tariff will still hit these music venues, as it relates to the playing of recorded music at events at nightclubs, cafés, restaurants, hotels and, of course, pubs and bars. PPL has decided that the current fees for such activity are too low to be an appropriate reflection of the value of using recorded music at SFE events.
Well, the trade isn’t happy. Jonathan Downey, who runs street food business London Union, has already acted to avoid to the tax increase. “Last year, we paid £31,500 to PPL,” he said on Twitter. “This year, they want £104,000. We’re not going to pay this. We’ve cut DJs at all venues. Everyone loses.”
There’s an argument that some of the fees go back to PPL members (the artists), but the amount is dependent on play frequency and size of audience. UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls has her say on page 12. You can also read PPL’s press release on the matter at ppluk.com. Give both pieces a read and then perhaps see what you can be doing to ensure music-reliant venues aren’t put on mute for good.
Tristan O’Hana - Editor