Hmm: British Record Stores Getting Charged to Play Music for Patrons

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You can debate whether coffeehouses and bars are getting charged too much for in-store music (or too little).

But why should a record store – which is trying to sell music – be forced to pay anything?  “These license fees imposed on record stores are iniquitous and in my view should be abolished,” said UK-based Entertainment Retail Association (ERA) president Paul Quirk in a speech to members on Wednesday, while squarely pointing to “industry bodies like PRS and PPL who still pursue record stores for license fees in order to play music, promote music and ultimately to sell music.”

It looks like American retailers are given exemptions on these charges, according to our preliminary research on the matter.

So when is the right hand going to talk to the left?  Quirk is incredibly frustrated on a number of fronts, especially given the extreme urgency of the situation. “There needs to be an understanding from suppliers that the only reason we raise these issues is because we want to sell their product,” Quirk continued.  “We’re not the enemy. We are the way they make money.”

Quirk further complained that a disproportionate amount of attention is being placed on digital, despite the revenue imbalance. “In a strange twist on the old 80-20 rule, while physical still accounts for around three quarters of the album market, in terms of the debate within the music industry, physical is rarely mentioned.”

But even in digital, Quirk criticized the government for moving at a ‘funereal pace’ on the Digital Economy Act (DEA), while noting that not one warning letter has been mailed.  In fact, the first are hitting mailboxes in mid-2012, a practical eon in internet time.  “The Digital Economy Act which was meant to sort all this out came into effect on June 8th of last year,” Quirk continued.  “So far nothing has happened.”