For the best part of 18 months, Covid has been playing the chords of pain for the music sector.
It’s been a tough period for businesses in the supply and operation of jukeboxes and background music systems; from the switching off of music at venues during lockdown and post lockdown, to the restrictive and debilitating processes applied by the copyright agencies.
Trade body Bacta has stepped forward to bring focus to these issues, this week forming a new committee to address the concerns that have pushed music operators and suppliers towards one of their most difficult periods in decades.
The association’s new Music Users’ Group will review all aspects of music use from supply to operation of jukeboxes and background music systems. It will be headed by David Gershlick of Coin Inn Games who was elected chair of the group this week.
Announcing the new initiative, Gershlick said: “The aim of the group is to offer a more structured forum to discuss these important issues and to highlight the responsibilities of members surrounding copyright and licensing. It will funnel our relationships with the copyright licensing bodies, such as the PPL, PRS and MCPS.”
It hasn’t taken long to swing into action. The group has already held its first meeting and Bacta has subsequently made contact with the PPL to request discussion on a range of issues, some of which are economically crippling businesses in the sector. Top of the agenda is payment of refunds for the period for which pubs were closed (operators pay in advance for the year), something which, on principle, has served to aggravate operators over the past year.
In addition, the group wants to discuss the enforcement of copyright legislation to clarify the position in which publicans are, probably unwittingly, illegally using their Spotify and multi-media accounts to play music in pubs to their customers; and a licence fee for music following the private sale of a decommissioned digital jukebox for residential use.
Bacta is putting its weight behind the group, not least because of the increasing loopholes that are impacting members in the music sector. “We remain concerned about the widespread illegal use of streaming services by publicans,” noted Bacta CEO John White. “We know that there is a new tariff in formulation to address this situation and it is essential that we have a structured group in place to ensure that we can be part of the discussion on how this might affect members businesses. We are grateful to David for taking on this role of chairing the group and urge any members who want to join to get in touch.”