Music shop legal issues

Man holding blue guitar with multiple guitars in background in music shop

There are some aspects of retailing and general legislation that you should be aware of.

What licences does a music shop need?

There are no licensing requirements relating specifically to music shops. You should, however, be aware of the following:

  • you will need consumer credit authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) if finance is offered to customers. 'Limited permission' authorisation covers this type of credit activity
  • if you use copyright music in your business - for example as background music in your shop - then you will probably need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd. There is an annual fee for this which you can pay online on the PPL PRS website
  • if you keep computerised records of individuals' personal details - for example for credit finance purposes - then you may need to register as a data user with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). From May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation has introduced additional protection for personal data
  • if you put a portable advertising sign like an A-board on the pavement then you may need a permit - check with your local authority

Licensing of second-hand dealers

You might decide to sell some second-hand instruments. Local authorities in Scotland require second-hand dealers to obtain a licence or registration to operate. This applies unless dealing in second-hand goods is only incidental to the main business activity. Elsewhere in the UK, some local authorities license or register businesses (with certain specific exemptions) where second-hand dealing is the main or a significant part of the business and is not just incidental. If you are in any doubt as to whether second-hand dealer licensing may apply to your business, contact your local authority trading standards department for guidance.

Retailing and consumer protection

There is a range of legislation that applies to retail outlets to protect the interests of the consumer. For example, goods and services must not be misleadingly described and the retail price of goods must be clearly displayed. You will be responsible for making sure that all goods or services are fit for their intended purpose and of satisfactory quality.

Note that special 'distance selling' consumer protection rules apply if you sell goods online or by mail order.

You can find out more about retailing and consumer protection legislation on the website. There's detailed guidance on your legal obligations to consumers, and on the requirements when selling online, on the Trading Standards Business Companion website. Your local trading standards department will also be able to advise you if you have any specific queries.

Carrier bag charge

A 5 pence charge applies in England, but small and medium-sized businesses (with fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees) are exempt. You can get detailed guidance from the website.

Retailers in Wales and Scotland must charge customers at least 5 pence if they supply them with a single-use carrier bag. This applies to all types of single-use bag, whether they are made of plastic, paper or plant-based starch. There is detailed guidance on the Gov.Wales and Zero Waste Scotland websites.

In Northern Ireland retailers must charge customers a 5 pence levy on all bags with a retail price of less than 20 pence (including any bags that would otherwise be free of charge), whether they are single-use or reusable.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a music shop

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • premises, premises contents and stock (including damage and theft, and covering used instruments if necessary)
  • plate glass
  • cover for customers' instruments left in your care - perhaps for repairs, maintenance, or to be sold on their behalf
  • goods in transit (for example, on the way back from a supplier)
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • motor insurance (for business vehicles)

Bear in mind that trade associations often offer favourable insurance packages to their members. For example, the Music Industries Association (MIA) offers discounted rates on specialist music industry insurance to its members through its partnership with Musicguard Insurance.

When comparing insurance quotes, uncover the differences between policies by using an insurance comparison form.

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