Spanish Hair Salons Turn Off Radios in Protest

Spanish Hair Salons Turn Off Radios in Protest

Angry royalty groups demand monthly fee for listening to music with customers, tell customers to bring iPods instead.

Hairdressers in Spain have decided to protest a recent crackdown by royalty collecting groups there by silencing their salons and urging customers to bring in their iPods instead.

“From now on, when you come to the hairdressers don’t forget to bring your own music from home!” read the signs now gracing salon windows.

The Spanish Society of Authors (SGAE) charges each location a monthly music licensing fee of between €6 ($8) and €12 ($17) a month on behalf of its members, and hairdressers are angry that that means they are essentially demanding to be paid twice for the same broadcast; once by the radio station paying the song and again by the listener – hair salons – on the other end.

It was a surprise visit by an investigator from SGAE that started the protest. After some three decades of listening to music with customers barber Esteban Criado was stunned to learned he had to pay up or turn it off.

“I refused to sign the contract he gave me,” he said. “A few days later I received a letter saying they were going to take legal action against me. Now we are gathering signatures from our clients to complain that this is unjust and an abuse of authority.”

Other hairdressers soon joined in the protest, noting that the radio is simply to provide a “welcoming atmosphere” for their clients and they by no means “make money off the music.”

So rather than pay the fee they are now asking customers to bring in their iPods instead.

SGAE spokesman Antonio Rojas counters that many hairdressers have been paying the fee for years, and that they aren’t exempt from paying a fee to “provide a music service” any more than are “shoe shops and shopping centers.”

“The fees are not designed to damage their business,” added Rojas. “It is very difficult to maintain culture if we do not pay those who create it.”

Something tells me charging businesses for allowing customers to hear the radio won’t help “maintain culture,” but rather wall it off even further. Culture shouldn’t have a price for admission.

Stay tuned.

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