Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Br Soapbox... PRS rights

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4 x Vision user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 23 Aug 08, 19:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I've just read a response from Brian about the proposed fee from PRS(performing rights society)for any business that wishes to play the radio in their outlet. His answer is a fair enough response, but the last line really bothered me...

"I guess you want to play music in a store to make the atmosphere pleasant, and encourage people to shop there. Perhaps the price you have to pay seems high, but if you are now running your shop in silence, you are effectively telling us all that you think our music is not worth paying for."

Maybe I'm reading into this a little too much, but does anyone agree that this answer may sound a little out of touch? I can understand a pub or club having to pay PRS, as their intentions are to provide an atmosphere based on the music they may play, but surely a small retail shop shouldn't have to pay a fee for just wanting to play some music in the background? They aren't playing the radio to encourage people to shop, so why should they pay?

But that's not what bothers me... it's when he says that by not paying and running your store in silence it's some sort of protest against the quality of their (i.e all artists) music? Surely he can't be serious enough to suggest that a small business who can't afford to pay PRS is doing it just to take a stab at the quality of group's material? Can't it just be that they can't afford such a payment for merely playing the radio in the background.

Will he propose that HMV (or any other music store)be charged by PRS for maybe playing their new album in stores... which may actually result in a sale?

Radio remember is an effective medium - and always has been- for helping to sell artist's music, including Queen, to the general public.

How can he possibly twist it like that? Mr. May, you are so very out of touch. In these worrying times, while talk of credit crunches are rife, why should an outlet pay money for having the radio on(even if it is on over the speaker system). It's more likely for staff anyway, to make the environment a little less dull... not to entice customers in. How absurd. Have you ever went into a shop just because you know they are playing the radio?

I run a nightclub... I partly make a living off of playing many different artists' music, it's one of the main draws to my outlet... yes, I should (and do) pay PRS... but I don't think this should be more widespread just to try balance the loss of revenue because of internet downloads for music artists. By saying this you may sound like you're standing strong for all the new acts out their struggling to make ends meet... but you're also in turn alienating the many (and more abundant) shop owners, small business people, etc who struggle to survive too.

Any thoughts anyone?

(i still think Brian May is great btw... just not so keen on his spin on this... but I still respect his opinion).

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Posted: 24 Aug 08, 06:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Don't you think producers of anything have the right to name the price for their their products? May that product be a brick, a car, or music. And then the customer will decide if they are OK with that price. If they are not, they have the right not to use it and spend their money on something else, on someone else's product.

In the case of a shop, which is only set up to make goood money, all elements from the salaries of assistants to the shop floors themselves and the advertising are paid for in order to do more sales and make moooore money. Good music is an attraction to customers, so the cost of backround music should be looked at just like any other advertising cost. It's got a price.

Nearly all music producers support the idea of PRS charges, because this earns them a living in times when they don't sell recorded music and are not out there touring. They name the price, and let the radios and the royalty agencies collect that for them.

Surely, a shoe shop in this case has the right not to agree with this, and stop playing radio in the background. The only thing they cannot do - businesswise and morally - to deny the producer their rights and use/steal their product by playing them without paying PRS. That would be like me going into the store and claim a pair of sneekers for free, saying I'm human, and under these terrible weather circumstances it's a human rights issue, and forcing me to pay would be so out of touch.

The HMV retail situation might be different. Music is the product there, so labels might even pay to get their new releases played.

Anyhow, music is not free just because it's less visible than say a car, or house. Musicians and producers of music so obviously deserve more than a tap on the back for their efforts that it's a miracle Brian took the time to explain his point of view. It's like the shoe shop owner explaining me patiently to pay when I'm freeking out for getting his product for free, instead of just kicking me out of the store.


'The House of Parliament? Is it for sale? How many bedrooms? Do they have enough servants' quarters?'
4 x Vision user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 24 Aug 08, 11:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I appreciate your argument and the sensible way you put it across. I can understand that producers/artists wish to make money by the use of their product, just like someone who sells a car, sneakers, etc... but again, not everyone uses the radio as a marketing gimmick... it is used a lot by small business mainly as a feature, stop staff getting bored, kill the silence, etc... and again, the radio to me is a perfect way to get their product across... I like many have bought an album/single from hearing it on the radio, sometimes in a store, sometimes in an office. Should a business man be deprived playing the radio in an office environment to keep staff from getting bored?

Radio advertises their music to the public. What if a song comes on that nobody actually liked or wanted to listen too... should that artist get a cut of PRS? What next.. if you play songs at a barbecue, should you have to pay PRS for keeping your guests entertained?

thanks for replying

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Posted: 24 Aug 08, 12:36 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Elvis_Fire wrote:


What next.. if you play songs at a barbecue, should you have to pay PRS for keeping your guests entertained?



Not relevant at all. A barbecue = home use.

I walk into tons of shops that have APRA stickers up. They play the music and they pay for it.

How much money are we talking here, anyway?


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 24 Aug 08, 18:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I run a small country pub and pay PRS and PPL. I understand the reasoning behind it but its just another tax on small businesses who are just trying to make a living. The only music I actually play is Irish folk music and quite a lot of my customers have asked for the names of the few cds that I use so they can buy them for use at home. So in my case the performers are not only getting their royalty but also free atvertising resulting in sales for there material. Also with PRS, you get charged extra if you have say a DJ in for a party. Its about £8 per event but surely it should be the DJ who pays the PRS fee as you are paying for his services? Its not a huge fee to be fair but when you add all the small fees that a small business has to pay out it soon becomes a pretty big fee and people wonder why small country pubs are closing all the time. I'm sure Dr. May has a valid point but its pretty easy to sit in you ivory tower with all your millions and rant on a soap box isn't it. With all that said I'll be first in line to buy the new album and am going to two shows on the tour.

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Posted: 25 Aug 08, 10:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

PRS can add up to a hefty amount. My last bill was nearly £10,000, but again, I own a bar/club, and we are busy through the use of DJs 7 nights a week, and we have a jukebox which you also pay money for, because you are using their artists on it (obviously). I think this is a truly ridiculous amount, but I can still see a valid argument for using it. Indie and rock is a vital ingredient to the success of my business so I agree a contribution should be made. I agree that the DJs should contribute, because they are well paid (very well paid sometimes).

But, I have digressed from my initial argument, I don't think that small businesses who play the radio should be penalised for giving their staff and customers the chance of some radio background music. And by the way, even if your business plays radio for staff only (i.e no customers actually come to your premises) then you still have to pay, or turn it off. Or if you put someone on hold and play music, you have to pay. Ridiculous. I think Brian should not only be thinking of how PRS fees can benefit new artists, but also how it effects the thousands off small business men/women (who far exceed bands surely) and how it effects their pockets. Brian has made his millions, he was lucky to have been about in a time were record sales did produce profits, which in turn has led to profitable live gigs.

Maybe he should be commenting more on why it has come to this... i.e illegal downloads... that is the real problem. To stand up for his fellow artists is one thing, but to say "by not playing our music... you are saying it is not worth paying for" is a remarkable statement, which to me is very one sided and shows a complete disregard for the everyday business man's struggle in the current financial climate.

(BTW I can't find this article on his soapbox anymore, has it been removed?)

EDIT... Sorry, it is still active on his soapbox for august.

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Posted: 25 Aug 08, 10:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Zebonka12 wrote:

Elvis_Fire wrote:


What next.. if you play songs at a barbecue, should you have to pay PRS for keeping your guests entertained?


Not relevant at all. A barbecue = home use.



I know this, I am merely trying to work out how far they will actually go in terms of fees. If you worked in a closed office environment, with several staff only and played the radio or music, you too would have to contribute. Is that fair?

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Posted: 25 Aug 08, 11:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I thought this would be a thread about Brian having PRS make a guitar for him, just to flood the market a bit more.

But yes, Brian needs to make money. If he could kindly forward me a list of stores that only play licensed material, I will gladly change my shopping habits.

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Posted: 25 Aug 08, 12:58 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Actually, I would prefer NOT to be showered with unwanted music everywhere I go. I don't need music in a supermarket or other places that are loud enough anyway. Most of all I do not need low-quality music when I am waiting on a phone line. So, if a business man wants to save some money he can just switch off that radio, I will be grateful.


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Posted: 04 Sep 08, 23:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

There is no legal issue about playing the readio whether they play Queen, Motzart or Vanilla Ice. The legality comes forth into play when the store puts on a pre-ordered list via a CD for example, and that CD plays copyrighted music you as an individual personally directed as store background music. That is directly taking Queen's music and offering it's excellence to customers who might be indecisive shoppers walking by when they suddenly go, "What the F$$$? Is that real music? In a mall?? I gotta hang and hear the rest of this. This is Queen playing in an American mall and it's not mixed with Ice Ice Baby nor is it a sports event playing We Will Rock You." A radio pays it's fees through ASCA{ and BMI and so a public radio station is beyond your control, but the choice makes Queen a musical representative who you force to be connected with the hole you work in.

Also the silence he spoke of is a combination between protecting employees and protecting the public from the 50% at best, 100% at least daily 3 or 4 times at worst, these poor majority humans who suffer a job or shopping excursion by listening to music that not only annoys you, but in Texas we even get insulted because half of the stores these days will seem to suffer this disillusion that Urban Texans actually like Country Music and that we really want to hear about the drunken singer's melancholy when he caught his sister cheating with a cousin of his. Do you like being on hold and listening to a telephone blast your wait period with music I am still 0 out of about 1000 times in being glad that I get to hear this.

If they decide to show taste and play something not just acceptable, but freaking Queen, shouldn't they pay the tiny fee and see it as an investment, or turn it off and go to work.


I worked at Musicland and they required at Xmas that every other album played was a XMAS themed album, as if shoppers feel like spending their cash so it can jingle all the way in sterio with the song that company's employees are picking because it's the shortest run time available to fulfill this added reason to hate your store that treats you so disrespectfully.

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Posted: 05 Sep 08, 06:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

We pay a fee to play in the radio in reception of both our offices.

It's mainly for the staff as we don't get too many customers.

It seems fair enough. If a small shop wants to play music then presumably it's because they think the atmosphere will be more pleasant and lead to more sales.

We're in Ireland btw.





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