PRSformusic Respond to Parliamentary Questions, PRS complaints, Keep Music Free

Well, it seems to me that PRSformusic have failed to answer the questions asked in a clear manner, evading the essence of the question. It also seems that they may have mislead people in the answers they gave. I’ll happily stand up and be counted here – they *DID NOT* send a letter to my business before phoning up:

Before we call any business, as part of a licensing campaign, we always send a letter. Our letters explain clearly who we are, whom we represent and the licensing requirement. A typical licensing letter to prospective customers is attached as Appendix A.

And when they did call us, they *WERE* aggressive, suggesting most strongly that we would need a license come what may. Failure to purchase a license would result in action being taken against us. They did not enquire whether or not we listened to music, but asked whether we were aware that by listening to music in the workplace we were obliged to buy a license. Only later in the call did they bother to ask if we actually listened to music.

On the notion of double taxation (note, the question held the phrase in quotes, implying it was not a specific phrase, but a colloquialism):

Secondly, there is certainly no ‘double-charging’ when we license workplaces for the use of music, made by any means including radios. Copyright is a bundle of rights including copying, communication to the public (broadcast) and public performance. These rights are usually licensed separately, with a separate licence fee. To suggest there is ‘double-charging’ undermines the entire basis of the bundle of rights defined in the statutory framework.

So – evading the essence of the question, lets point out that it isn’t a tax. Where do PRSformusic state that they DO NOT collect money from radio stations for broadcasting copyright music? No… I didn’t see it either. So we are left wondering whether they collect from the station AND from the listener… a double collection if you will – a double ‘tax’ on listening to music.

On the question whether their activities have had any effect on reducing the number of people who now listen to music in the workplace:

There appear to be many reasons why commercial radio audiences have declined but we are not aware of any data or analysis that suggested that workplace public performance licences are an issue. Indeed, we have not found any published research on declining radio audiences which cites our licences as a factor.

I will say this again and again and again – it is *PRECISELY* because of your activities, PRSformusic, and the heavy handed way in which you are interpreting and applying the rules as you describe them, that has stopped me from listening to music at work. Period. I attribute this entirely to you, and your activities alone. It’s all very well quoting how good it is for people to listen to music whilst they work, but to encourage them and then charge them for the privilege is tantamount to obscenity, in my opinion. So as far as research goes, yours isn’t very good. There is at least one instance where your activities have reduced the amount of music in the workplace. I would guess there are many, many more examples. On the other hand, I bet there are untold numbers of plumbers, painters, chippies, sparks and other tradesmen who couldn’t give a flying one for your license fee… and still listen to music as they happily go about their otherwise very law abiding ways.

14 thoughts on “PRSformusic Respond to Parliamentary Questions, PRS complaints, Keep Music Free

  • 19 January, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I read your comments with interest after searching for information on PRSformusic. My husband and I were contacted by telephone today and were told that we needed a licence to listen to the radio in our office. We have a retail shop but the office where the radio is is on the 3rd floor, only audible to myself and my husband – we do not employ anyone else. Apparently if my husband is listening the radio that is ok, but if I walk in, his wife, he is broadcasting to me and we require a licence. I can’t believe this – I told PRS that I will not pay fees so I will just turn the radio off. So there we are, another example of a declining radio audience.

  • 27 January, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Really sorry to hear this – but totally understandable. This whole debacle is getting out of hand. The music industry is in shreds and instead of dealing with the issues of file sharing and downloads, the target appears to be the people who would listen to and enjoy music legally. Only, listening with your friends and family appears to be less legal than it was when I last checked!

    PRS are killing the industry by stifling the listeners. How obtuse can they get?

  • 17 March, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Just found this after searching the web for PRS – We stopped listening to the radio at work as we were quoted a massive price to listen to the radio in the workshop we were told if a customer walked through our workshop they were an audience and so therefore we would be broadcasting to them and our employees. Absolutely stupid they called & continued to write ever stronger letters until we wrote to them and explained why we were choosing to switch off our radio at work. In our letter we pointed out broadcasters already paid to put their artists music onto the radio for us to listen too and the possible consequences of drop in audiences and possible knock on affects to listening audience, record sales and advertising on stations. We asked for their response and nothing not a thing the calls and letters stopped. Since the radio was switched off I personally have not bought a new album I just don’t hear new artists or music as much as I did, I am sticking to the music I have / know rather than being introduced to new music via the radio which I heard at work.

  • 4 June, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I part own a nightclub in The Midlands area and we had paid £4000 for the privilage of playing music in our venue. However that has now jumped to £11,000.00 after a person from PRS made an estimate on some of the night and came up with this outrareous secondary “tax”. They said we had 5 times the amount of people in the venue then we actully do! Absolute rubbish, i wish we did!

    I deplore this outright extortision by this “ungoverned” body. They think money grows on trees and that clubs and pubs make load of money….

  • 4 November, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Hi, just doing some browsing for my PRS Guitars website. Can’t believe the amount of information out there. Not quite what I was looking for, but very nice site. Have a great day.

  • 7 May, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I work in electrician workshop in a prison and we cant now play a radio without paying a licence about £44 so now no radio. why industry cant bring out new format i.e 5.1 sound and sell that and keep the stereo for radio as it brings in more for artists than any other, we love our dab radio. I want to join a campaign to give this prs a boot up the jack for ruining free radio but cant find any on net.

  • 3 June, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    They bug our art gallery week in week out with their letters, its a tax in my book and wont be paying anything.

    PRS – People Ripped off for Sound

  • 7 June, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    PRS also fail to inform yo on te telephone that you need a PPl licence too…

    I am led to beleive we are not an isolated case in being mis-sold a PRS licnce they assured us we only needed their licence on the telephone, then PPl contact us out of the blue today to advise we need two licences.

  • 21 June, 2011 at 8:12 am

    We fell foul of this as well, with PPL. We had a PRS licence and the first we heard of it was a letter stating that we were in breach of the law and that they would be taking action. No invoice/letter or phone call. When I called to complain and to tell them we were unaware that we needed two licences we were then slaped with a 50% charge for listening to music without a licence. Bloody rip off, I told our manager to switch the radio off – all t his will do is stop people listening to the radio for fear that they will be caught, this is turn will stop you hearing new artists. I give a work friend a lift to work if I lsiten to the radio or CD do I need a licence? Also when I have friends round for dinner can I play back ground music? The world is going crazy.

  • 11 August, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I also received 2 invoices from the PPL. One for the last and current year’s charges, and another invoice for a 50% surcharge for not having had a licence! I rang to explain I thought I was covered by our PRS licence (which we have had for 4 years), and challenged the surcharge due to lack of infomation. The surcharge invoice was cancelled without any further ado! As I have paid for this year’s PRS licence, I will pay the PPL one, but after that the radio will go off. £120.00+ a year for 4 people to half listen to the radio – I don’t think so.

  • 6 November, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    So glad that situation was caught in time! You’re both in my heart and prayers. Beautiful card, too!

  • 7 November, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Church owned community centre – open to the public, just spent 20 minues on Phone to PRS trying to complete our renewal… we don’t play any music in our office or cafe, but have used to pay a small amount to cover any occasiaonal use at birthday parties, and the odd excercise class etc… but now they won’t accept an estimate of my use, but want exact figures… reached an empass because I’ve said I can only estimate – not everyting is booked in, we’e open to the public, I’m not here 24/7 etc… I can’t sign to say truthfully this is an exact record… exactly how many ‘spontaneous’ performances on our piano in the last year (if the old oy playing has a toilet break mid way through, is this 2 ‘sessions’ or just one?)… exacly how many classess, exactly how many people in each class (what about our old ladies who sit out for half the session do I count them? ) , exactly how many ‘private’ family parties (where it is a private party in a public building… being a church if people turn up uninvited we let them in… apparently PRS don’t allow such hospitality), how many video ‘clips’ (given the popoularity of embed short YouTube clips into powerpoints etc impossible to calculate!) – madness. Seriously considering risking not bothering.. fairly sure if it got as far as court their stupidness would annoy a judge sufficiently to let us off…

  • 8 December, 2011 at 4:04 pm


  • 8 March, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I am in disagreement with PRS, I signed a document to say that I ‘might’ have 6 disco’s per year at the pub. That document has been added to to include 52 live sessions, they say ‘bands’. This is a blatant fabrication – I only ever bands 6 times in 5 years. The rep. has added these details in later. Has anyone had anything similar or know of anyone else this has happened to?

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