Vivek Bhakta writes from Sharoe Green to ask what the score is with music licences:

"I am a Londis retailer in Preston, Lancashire. I wish to play music (only the radio) in my shop. Kindly suggest what licence I need to go for. I believe there are two authorities dealing with music licences. There will be only one music player with attached speakers that I am planning to place in the middle of the shop."

I have answered this one many times before although, as I replied to Vivek, it gave me no pleasure to do so. You would think one radio, one licence, but I'm afraid that is not so. If you are going to play the radio that can be heard by staff and by the public then you need, believe it or not, two licences.

The Performing Right Society (PRS) collects on behalf of songwriters and composers, and Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) collects on behalf of recording companies. The licence fees depend on the size of your store (for example, the PRS fee starts at £73.60 a year. For more info, call PRS on 08000 648 828 and PPL on 020 7534 1000).

However, as I also always tell retailers, if you don't bother with the licences, no one will arrest you (it would be a civil matter). Both the PRS and PPL sometimes do 'blitzes' in that they write and threaten retailers (even those who don't play music of any sort which proves that they do not have sophisticated detection devices).

Of course, I am not suggesting that you 'avoid' these two extra costs to your business. In fact, my daughter is a mezzo soprano currently completing a Batchelor of Music and probably facing a lean and slender future in the music industry, augmented by bar-slinging or waitressing. These royalties do help the performers (indies like yourselves). But PRS and PPL have done themselves no favours by being rather woolly in their approach and by not having joined-up thinking and a common approach. Why not?

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