Proprietor tells how music licence demand was final nail in coffin for struggling bar in Grantham
The owner of Grantham’s closed Chameleon Music Bar has told how the establishment never made a profit and only broke even twice in its two-and-a-half years’ life span.
Proprietor Simon Morley said he continually hoped the bar and steakhouse, in High Street, would turn the corner but profitability always seemed to elude the business.
A music bar without a music licence doesn’t really work.
He said the final nail in Chameleon’s coffin was a demand from the music licence organisation, the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL), that the business should renew its licence to play recorded music.
The bar was closed on Wednesday last week after a High Court judge ordered it to “pay up or shut up” after being found playing recorded copyrighted tracks without a licence.
Mr Morley said: “I’m very disappointed we’ve had to close. I’ve ploughed tens of thousands of pounds into the business and we’ve had a good showing from very loyal customers who kept coming in.
“The bar was not covering its costs and we were robbing Peter to pay Paul and when the big bill comes in you realise it is not going anywhere.
“Obviously I knew the licence was something that was required.
“We’ve had a music licence in previous years. A music bar without a music licence doesn’t really work.
He added: “It would have cost £5,000 for the licence plus about £2,000 in costs. I knew it was time to call it quits.”
He said the business has been placed in receivership.
Mr Morley said the bar needed two music licences, one for the PPL and another for Performing Rights Society and together they cost £10,000 a year.
He said: “I just hope it is a level playing field out there. There are five venues in the town that play music at night. It must be a level playing field for us all.”
The High Court was told that New Morley Leisure Ltd, occupiers, proprietors and premises licence holders for the Chameleon Music Bar were discovered playing recorded copyrighted tracks without a licence from the PPL on May 2.
A music ban and a legal costs bill of £1,680 was imposed by the High Court on the proprietors of the bar.
The pay-up or shut-up order was imposed by Mr Justice Mann who was told a PPL inspector heard music being played on the premises, when the company did not hold a PPL licence.
The High Court was told the inspector heard tracks including “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel, “She’s Electric” by Oasis and “Toy Boy” by Sinitta on May 2.
Fiona Clark, counsel for PPL, told the judge that solicitors had sent letters to the premises informing the company of the nature and extent of PPL’s repertoire.
The letter also stated that playing sound recordings in public without PPL’s licence or permission was an infringement of its copyright.
The letter also invited the premises to acquire a licence.
Justice Mann banned the company – which was not represented - from playing recorded music at any premises it runs until it brings its licence up to date.
He also ordered it to pay £1,680 in legal costs run up by PPL in taking it to court. The sum must be paid by August 12. Failure to obey the order and turn any premises it runs into a music-free zone until all licence fees are brought up to date would be regarded as contempt of court.
The penalties for this can be fines of up to £10,000 and up to six months’ jail.