Several West Lothian businessmen have told me recently that they are incensed by calls they have received from the PRS (Performing Right Society). It would seem that this “society” is currently working their way through the West Lothian small businesses directory.

This “society” collects licence fees from music users. And in their eyes you are a music user if anybody happens to wander into your place of work and overhears music playing in the background.

No, seriously.

If somebody plays work-along music in the kitchen of a restaurant, for example, they need to have a license. And the PRS people use aggressive, bullying tactics to ensure you buy a license so that you can listen to music you’ve already bought!

The money from the license is then passed on to music writers and publishers. (Less the PRS staff wages, company cars, bonuses, office costs etc of course.)

And just as a matter of interest, one of the “suits” behind this mob – as CEO of British Music Rights – is Feargal Sharkey, the Irish singer with the inside-out face who had a big hit or two with The Undertones.

A note to these “artistes”: you wouldn’t need the PRS to collect cash on your behalf if you had a modicum of talent, because you would be touring and selling records, wouldn’t you? That’s the way it USED to work.

The musicians want their music played on the radio – somebody might hear it, like it and buy the album. For them, it’s a great advert. But they also want paid if somebody happens to overhear it!

We have to pay to help them advertise?

There’s something seriously wrong there.

Drew McAdam


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