Background music is everywhere, from the supermarket, to shops and the local pub.  Every public premise which plays music has to pay a fee to PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited aka Pirates Pillaging Landlords) scheme which redistributes the payment to writers and performers.  The PPL are prosposing to increase fees substantially with extra fees for “special events” such as hosting a DJ or disco nights, and take into account how long music is played for and how many people attend.  This fee does not take into account turnover or profit, so less efficient venues suffer disproportionately.

This could affect some businesses with increases of about 1000% in fees. Pubs and other similar businesses are obviously against this change and so should the customer as it adds to the cost of your pint at the end of the day.  One business with three premises holding three events a week each to 250-400 people calculated that their fee would rise from £20,000 to £200,000 based on these proposals.  Also the PPL have a history of having to pay back large amounts from over valuation of the fee, the last being £20,000,000 in total.

Some pubs are already fighting back and refusing to play music from PPL licensed artists.  Licensing companies like these are the leeches sucking the life out of these pub trade.  Riding on the success when times are good, but giving nothing when times are not as good.  When you look at the detail, the cost would be extortionate.

A venue holding an event for 100 people for 3 hours would pay £125, 1 hour on the same basis  £62, while 8 hours would be £197.  So short event like a 3 hour disco, comes off worse on a per hour per person basis than a full day music festival.  A band night a week for a couple of hours could cost £5200 a year in fees if the same 100 people attended. That is a lot of money to pay out each year.

It almost makes the Sky TV pub subscription look good value, and this is going some when you make a Rupert Murdoch company look good.  In the next few months a judgement will be made on whether foreign satellite feeds of Premiership football are legal or not under the EU Freedom of Goods act.  One pub in the north east which paid £630 per month, is now paying £330 a month to a Scandinavian provider.  I’ve experienced the 3pm football in Halifax when there used to be a sports bar on Bull Green and I like watching it live on a Saturday afternoon, Sky do take advantage of their monopoly and I hope that it is ruled legal to take foreign feeds.  The big corporations are not getting a good ride from me this week.

The little man got a kicking from CAMRA this week, and it is a small man I like a lot.  Brewdog brewery had their stand cancelled at the Great British Beer Festival with dispute over the reason.  CAMRA state that Brewdog was 7 weeks late in paying and could not conform to the 50 litre barrel size that enable the festival to deal with high volumes of customers. Brewdog state it was due to their beer being served from kegs not casks and that CAMRA backtracked from a previous promise to allow kegs.  I suspect it is a mix of the two, but the festival will be poorer for Brewdogs’ absence.

In good news for Brewdog, their third bar opened in Glasgow and is reported to doing excellent trade, next up is Camden Town in London and rumours are that Leeds was being scouted for locations, I hope that the rumour is true, as I will visiting Leeds a lot more if it is.

Last week I spent a couple of day camping in Three Peaks country in the Yorkshire Dales and during my visit experienced a couple of nice pints of Wharfe Bank Summer, a pleasant blonde citrus beer at 3.6%.  The pub in question was the Crown Inn at Horton in Ribbledale, and was less impressive than the beer, with average overpriced food and less than customer lead attitude.  Nowhere near as bad as the Falcon Inn at Almscliffe,  but it certainly hasn’t endeared me to the place, preferring the Railway Inn at Ribblehead any day.

And on that note, happy supping until next week.