Cape Town - Next time you visit the shops, take a moment and listen – that atmospheric music in the background may just be putting you in the right mood to shop up a storm.
It has also given rise to a dispute between a group of 10 major retailers, including Pick n Pay, Foschini, Mr Price and Clicks, and the SA Music Performance Rights Association (Sampra) over tariffs.
In a judgment delivered on Friday, Judge Legodi Phatudi, sitting in Pretoria as a commissioner of the Copyright Tribunal, found the association’s tariffs to be invalid.
Sampra, which represents 95 to 99 percent of record companies, collects royalties for the playing of background music.
The tariffs it set varies, depending on the size of the shop.
A small shop of up to 50m2, for example, paid a licence fee of R500 a year.
The fee for a large premises of about 10 000m2 cost R11 000 a year, while even bigger stores would pay an extra R500 for every 1m2 to 1 000m2.
But Judge Phatudi set aside these tariffs and replaced them with lower ones, effective for the period 2008 to next year.
It would now cost R389 a year for shops of 50m2 or smaller.
The prices would increase with the size of the shop; however, he stopped at stores bigger than 1 500m2, which would pay R1 220 a year.
Judge Phatudi said the tariffs were not determined by the economic value of the background music retailers played in their stores – there was no evidence before him that allowed him to determine such value – but rather for them to appropriately remunerate the owners of the royalties.
He said that if he had confirmed the tariffs set by Sampra, some retailers might cease to play sound recordings, which would “change for the worse” the ambience in public places and could also take the bread from the tables of the royalties owners.
A witness, music therapist Kobie Swart, had testified about how music could affect consumers’ behaviour at a store, specifically with regard to attitude, perception, and the time and money spent there.
Another witness, Charles Scott Areni, a professor of marketing at the University of Sydney Business School, testified that while the music was not always there to be listened to, it created the right mood, environment and atmosphere for a typical shopper.
“(Swart) impressed on the tribunal that the human body cannot ignore music in the public spaces. The consumer’s mood may be changed for good or for worse by them either liking or disliking, respectively, the music they hear in stores,” the judgment read.
Judge Phatudi said post-2014 fees could be set according to the consumer price index or be agreed upon between retailers and copyright owners. - The Cape Times