Today we received in the mail a document I can only feel should be named: “How to charge over and over for the same thing.” It came from the Australasian Performing Right Association. It started with the sentence “We understand music may be being played at Hashigo Zake”. Not “we believe CDs are being played…” or “we believe live bands are playing..” BUT “music is being played”. It seems APRA are claiming ownership of all music. So much for whistling while you work. Yes that’s a facile interpretation but remember that if we turn the TV on, and at a sporting event some of that banal and infuriating incidental music is being played so loud it comes through on the TV broadcast, then APRA considers that background music is being played and a licence fee is payable.
Now we’re busy enough here at HZ HQ without picking a fight with the apparent guardians of the rights of performers. So we will probably pay the fee, which isn’t too much for us as we simply play a (very good) commercial free radio station. Although it would be good if the fee was relative to sound volume which would get us a huge discount over every other bar in the vicinity of Courtenay Place.
So instead of fighting APRA I plan to embrace their business model and borrow from it (while praying they won’t claim royalties). Henceforward we won’t be selling beer - we will be selling licences to taste. Note that by default the licences will only be to taste. All beer must be returned in a slops bucket. (You’ll never guess who’s buying those off us.) Anyone wanting to swallow their beer must return to the bar and upgrade their tasting licence to a consumption licence. And it doesn’t stop there. We’ll be installing an array of closed circuit television cameras to clamp down on the degenerate practice of beer-sharing. As soon as anyone is seen so much as pushing their glass across the table top towards a fellow customer a siren will sound and all occupants of the table will be detained until evidence of a beer-sharing licence is shown.