Both the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality have slammed the move.


It is the first time in 30 years that the tariff, which relates to the playing of recorded music in public at events such as discos and DJ nights, has been changed.

It will come into effect on July 1 at the same times as other changes to the tariff:


  • Measuring the audience at an SFE event by using the total number of admissions to the event.
  • The fee will increase in direct proportion to the size of the audience (measured in bands of 25 persons).
  • The introduction of two new smaller tariff bands, for SFE events with attendances of 1-25 and 26-50 persons.
  • The phased introduction of increased fees over a five-year period from July 2019, based on an initial rate of 4 pence per person per hour, moving to 9 pence per person per hour by 2023 (subject to annual indexation).


PPL says that the current fees are too low, "to be an appropriate reflection of the value to businesses of using recorded music at SFE events." However, the BBPA has calculated an average increase of 130 per cent, which it has called "disappointing."

"This decision will be another big blow to hospitality businesses that are struggling to survive," said CEO Brigid Simmonds.

"The SFE tariff has consistently grown already through annual RPI increases, which is an increasingly discredited inflation index and is consistently a percentage point above CPI. As a result, those who have been paying SFE licenses over the years have already been paying more than their fair share."

UKHospitality has also condemned the changes, calculating that it will cost the hospitality industry around £49m.

"The decision to introduce a new tax for music venues could be potentially devastating," said chief executive Kate Nicholls.

"Hospitality businesses are already being bombarded with constantly-increasing costs and only today a Government report highlighted the pressures being faced by music venues. The report stated that increasing costs were a major factor in the closure of venues. This additional massive cost is not going to help, it is only going to force more and more venues out of business.

"It is not just nightclubs and large venues that will be hit, either. Village pubs that host weekly discos will be strangled by the charge and there is every chance that such events, upon which many pubs might rely, will be forced out altogether."