The New Entertainment Licence

Although this letter from Pete Lay is aimed at the PRS., it came at the same as an email from Mart Rodger about another charge on music. If they become two distinct issues, I'll separate them out - Fred

From Pete Lay (Gambit Jazzmen) 19/07/05

 Dear Fred

Its good to hear of a new venue, in light of the news that the new licensing bill has meant landlords not renewing their music and dance part of the licence, hence killing off live music, and of course the "monster" of PRS who are mind set on destroying jazz clubs and festivals with their charges.

I say, everyone has to challenge this quango, What has 3% of door take got to do with royalties on tunes? Someone is making a lot of money out of this and it is not Traditional Jazz Musicians. They are just topping up on the millions that Northern Songs (McCartney etc) are making already. Its scandalous!!!!!!! It has to stop. Ask those at Abersoch, and Doveholes, and Liverpool, ask the Mersey's. Ask Jill (my wife) why she decided to close the Maltings Jazz Club in Farnham. We've been fighting the b....... for years. Their mathematics does not equate. They are ripping the guts out of live music, and they don't seem to care.

You can put this on your site if you like, because I'm fed up with hearing tales of woe from Jazz Clubs from around the country all affected by them.

Even more annoying is that the M. U. and Jazz Services U. K support this function, you now why? Because they support "new" music which has absolutely nothing to do with Traditional/Mainsteam jazz, and they get the benefits from it. Everyone in those organisations seem to be feathering their own nest. I await, and I won't be holding my breath, for the day when grants for thousands of pounds are poured into venues and festivals that pursue a Traditional jazz policy. It just won't happen.

As you can see I am a fed up, cheesed off, Traditional jazz musician who is seriously thinking that the time is right to stop at home, before someone decides it for me.

Anyone who is fighting PRS and others over extortionate fees has my support.

Before PRS come to their defence, don't believe them, they use legalised jargon to scare and confuse. Fight them.

I agree that writers and musicians should receive loyalties, but at the appropriate price per tune, which in effect is pence rather than pounds, and in the case of our type of music, would relieve the burden of PRS payments as most of the music we play is out of copyright. (PRS would deny that, by claiming that as soon as you play a tune it's back in copyright) - but only if you as a band register it, and claim Trad. Arr. royalties as with Barber, Bilk, Ball, Ashman, etc. Even so, what they receive is peanuts to what McCartney and others receive.

From a really p..... off musician

From Mart Rodger (Manchester Jazz) 19/07/05

Re the new Entertainment Licence - Does anyone know how this tax works?  I've heard rumours of various amounts and we should all know how it will effect all bands.  It hasn't come to Didsbury Cricket Club yet but I have no doubt it will.  Is it just premises where there is a booze license?  Will it effect a Church, School or Village Hall?   May I make a suggestion that for the sake of our music all the bands work together to find a way around this tax.

From Peter Vickers (Silver Bell Band) 22/07/07

(N.B. Clicking on the underlined terms below reveals more in depth detail which is quite revealing - FB)

The Act establishes a single integrated scheme for licensing premises, which are used for the supply of alcohol, to provide regulated entertainment or to provide late night refreshment. Permission to carry on some or all of these licensable activities will now be contained in a single licence – the premises licence, and the Act has accordingly swept away considerable red tape at a stroke.

The Act also provides a balanced package of freedoms and safeguards. It will have an important role in the prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance perpetrated by a minority. It will give the responsible majority more freedom and choice about how they spend their leisure time.

  • Premises licences to be issued by licensing authorities after notification to and  scrutiny of all applications by the police and other responsible authorities. Those living in and businesses operating in the vicinity of the premises will also be able to make representations on applications

Won't the Act kill live traditional music in small venues?

Not at all. The current law has hindered the development of live music because a public entertainment licence in some local authority areas can be very expensive. The new system will remove that current disincentive. For example, a small pub that wants to put on live music can obtain at the same time a single premises licence permitting the sale of alcohol and the provision of live music for the same cost as a licence solely permitting the sale of alcohol. We therefore expect to see more venues taking advantage of these changes.

from Pete Vickers

From Tom Baron 23/07/05

Dear Fred

Apropo Licensing Law changes.

Briefly, if you hold an existing licence then you must apply to convert by 6 August 2005.
If you do not hold a licence but will need one you must secure one by 24 November 2005.

All existing licences will expire on 24 November AND if you do not have a new one by this time you risk CLOSURE or PROSECUTION .Info and application forms can be obtained from your local authority or the Dept for Culture ,Media and Sport. (DCMS) _ and_entertainment OR
you could contact Jazz ServicesLtd Tel:- 020 7928 9089
FAX 020 7401 6870  E mail further info

Trust this might be of some help to all those struggling with increasing "Red Tape" these days.
kind regards

From: David Evans
(doorman for Conwy Jazz Club, meeting at Colwyn Bay Rugby Club) 

Another sad tale of PRS licences.

We have had a weekly jazz club with a resident band (River City Jazzmen) running for many years in various establishments, but for the last three years in Colwyn Bay Rugby Club - a private club which we jazz followers are obliged to join as social members. Until now, we had assumed that because the Rugby Club does not requite a Public Entertainment licence, that PRS fees would also be waived
- but not so it seems. The Rugby club were recently informed that they are required to pay PRS the sum of £15.88 + VAT = £18.66 per performance and, understandably, they have passed this onto us (actually they have rounded it up to £20). The band is paid from the door takings plus a raffle, and over the past 12 months their fee has averaged out at £92 - not a vast amount when shared between six musicians most of whom have many miles to travel. Now with this PRS demand, their pay will be down to £72 - unless that is we raise the admission charge (and risk driving away some of the audience).

The annoying thing about this is that the Fire Service has calculated that the room we use can accommodate 150 - a figure that we never approach (and don't really want to approach). In fact we rarely have more than 50 present, and usually more like 30-40. It seems though that the PRS formula can't take this into account. On top of that (the point made by Mart Rodger), many of the tunes are ancient, and may well be out of copyright. (I gather the amended rule is that the music attracts royalties if more than 75 years have elapsed since the composers death). Neither do they adjust the fee according to the number of tunes played.

I thought at one point that I had seen a way of avoiding some of the charge by taking out a licence on behalf of the jazz club - which would have reduced the fee to a mere £5.17 + VAT = £6.07. It turned out though that PRS have a rule that the licence has to be issued to the owner of the building - which we are not of course. The fee would also be around that figure if we were in pub rather than a non-profit-making establishment. It seems that the those with the the least money are expected to pay the most. 

As things look at the moment, there is a distinct possibility that this jazz club of ours with its many faithful followers will be driven to extinction.

27/07/05 - Dear Fred,

Just a simple question. What about the majority of music played in public places, which is not live at all but "canned"? How many mobile discos pay PRS fees? Is a fee payable whenever a pub customer puts 50p into the jukebox? What about the background "musak" in pubs, restaurants and shops? All this music is copyrighted, surely? Are all the establishments playing canned music going to be targeted in the same way? Surely that would be only fair? If we are all going to be landed with this burden, let's at least have a level playing field. If landlords and proprietors have to pay a fee for all the music played on their premises, it might make them decide that putting on live music is a good idea after all! 

Cheers, Phil Yates

30/07/05 -  Hi Fred,  

To reply to Phil Yates: Mart used to play at the Bank Restaurant in Chinley, where Audrey and Allan Bramah, the proprietors, paid £6.00 per week to PRS because background music was played there when the restaurant was open. This was about ten or more years ago. They sold up later and I don't know what the amount would be now. 

Regards, Janet Rodger.

From: Chris Hodgkins
Jazz Services Ltd
132 Southwark Street
0207 928 9089

Dear Fred

Peter Lay in an email has a pop at Jazz Services and the Musicians' Union. I will let the MU respond separately. It would be helpful if Peter Lay were to get his facts right and find out a little bit more about an organisation before he dishes out gratuitous falsehoods. Regarding the copyright issue. The PRS collects royalties on behalf of composers whether they are Duke Ellington or Paul Mcartney. Further more it is against the law to play or perform music that is still in copyright without ensuring that the composers receives their dues. If promoters are having a problem with the cost of PRS licenses then I would ask them to contact me as I sit on the PRS Specialist Music Advisory Committee along with folk musicians etc. With reference to Acker Bilk I do not think he would welcome a reduction in his royalties from Stranger on the Shore.

Jazz Services supports all jazz in whatever genre, whether it is the music of New Orleans or the music of Evan Parker. Jazz Services has provided support to a number of bands led by Paul Munnery and Phil Mason for example, and we have recently been assisting Dick Cook in pulling a tour together featuring, among others Clive Wilson, Freddy John and Butch Thompson. All our services are open to all and Jazz UK, our subsidary company carries every listing in jazz and then some. Perhaps Peter Lay would visit our website

Finally the remark that everyone in Jazz Services "seem to be feathering their own nest" is as risible as it totally untrue. Thankfully I am not of a litigious disposition or handy with a writ, but I do urge Peter Lay to get his facts right and if he wants to discuss any aspect of the work of Jazz Services to call me or better still come in and see me.

From Unwin Nunns

Hi Fred,

I have to say that I wonder what all the fuss is about or have the moaning guys forgotten about all the Orleans boys playing from their outbuildings or really anywhere , but they still played and I am certain that this spirit and urge to express the wonderful music we play and try so hard to emulate from our greats will and must win through after all what is life without music and all that jazz.


From Ian Royle

Hello Fred,

May I refer you and our many jazz friends to an item in 'Private Eye' 5-18th August edition in the regular 'Music and Musicians' Column which remarks that;-

"The Performing Rights Society (PRS) which collects royalties on behalf of Britain's composers has been congratulating itself on a record year in 2004. It handed out more money than ever (£256m) and, according to its press releases, everyone is dancing in the streets. Well, not everyone.

Many serious contemporary classical composers are sickened by what the PRS is doing with the money their music earns-not least because so little of it gets back into the contemporary classical world.

A few years ago, the PRS controversially reorganised its allocation system in a way that favoured pop, rock and film composers (the ones who earn big money anyway) and disadvantaged the classical ones who mostly struggle to survive.

In answer to its critics, the PRS then set up the so-called PRS Foundation, designed to give out discretionary grants which, it was claimed, would ensure that classical composers were properly provided for.

But discretionary grants come at somebody's discretion - and the somebody doesn't seem very interested in classical music. The foundation's literature shows that most of its energy and funds are channelled into "refreshingly approachable and adventurous projects" involving rock bands "techno and breakbeat events", club night expenses" and electro-jam-happenings with names like Futurescope, Celtronic and the Ether Festival, whatever that may be.

The rock/techno/breakbeat handouts go to immortal artistes like "I am the Mighty Jungulator" and are worth up to £5000.

The latest insult is the announcement of the Foundations first New Music Award, value £50,000. According to the literature, this award is open to "absolutely anybody" but it's perfectly clear that classical composers need not apply. With a judging panel including a film composer, a stand-up comedian, someone from the Asian Dub but no serious creative name at all, the recent shortlist included a piece of installation-art based on bells, an "electro-acoustic experience" at the Maritime Museum, Cornwall and the overall winner -a project for digging a hole in a field and filling it with bowls that catch persistent drips of water.

As the PRS is apparently proud to say, this £50,000 award (for a load of old tosh) is music's equivalent to the Turner Prize."

When the PRS decide to litigate against Pete Lay, perhaps they'd also like to take on Ian Hislop and Co at Private Eye which, with respect, has a far larger number of readers than your jazz website. - Ian

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