By happy coincidence I received an email from Gary Rogers who runs Broads News, Norfolk Broads. He asked: “Further to your recent answers about playing music, I wonder if you know what can be played without a licence? I have always believed that any tracks on a CD are exempt from PRS/PPL if they are recorded prior to 1962.

“This includes a lot of great music from the fifties and early sixties, and all outside the demands of the royalties police! If I am right about this then who needs the radio?”

The coincidence was that I had just had another email from Pete Craggs, who is business development manager at Amazing Instore, which he describes as a key service supplier to convenience stores.

Says Pete: “We provide PRS- and PPL-exempt music and POS messaging into the c-sector and CTN stores - we’re the largest library of licence-exempt music in Europe. This effectively saves retailers hundreds and (in some cases) thousands in licence fees every year.”

The company has recently tied up with the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) to launch an exclusive music service to their membership. “This service offers BIRA members access to our vast PRS and PPL exempt music library, via a range of player solutions. Together we’re allowing retailers to remove their requirement for both these expensive (PRS and PPL) licences.”

He confirms that playing music in a store is an incredibly powerful tool for any retailer. “It creates a welcoming and positive atmosphere, dramatically increasing customer dwell times and subsequently boosting sales.”

So I sent Gary’s query/opinion to Pete, who replied: “Unfortunately, Gary is not 100% correct. In the UK, copyright generally lasts for a period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author (or composer) dies. If the music originates from outside of the European Economic Area, the copyright lasts for as long as the music is protected by copyright in its country of origin, provided that the length of time does not exceed 70 years.

“Pretty much the rule of thumb is that if it’s a popular song it’s likely to be covered by copyright - and a licence will be needed.”

He has this warning, too: “If a retailer is caught playing copyright music without a licence there is a possible £60,000 fine or the obligation to pay a higher rate of licence. Unless, of course, you choose music from a licence-exempt library. This is where we’re helping retailers.”

He adds that Amazing Instore offers a range of products that start from £99 a year. It also produces bespoke in-store commercial messaging for a lot of clients, some of whom have reported sales increases in excess of 20% as a result.