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Promoter discounts questioned at PRS meetings

Debate erupted over "widespread" promoter discounts given by some European societies.

By IQ on 17 Dec 2015


image © PRS for Music

A meeting involving the CEO of German collection society GEMA descended into a surprise debate over “widespread” promoter discounts given by some European societies.

GEMA boss Harald Heker was a guest of honour at one of PRS For Music’s regular writer representative meetings in London, on 14 December, when prominent live music executives confronted him about how his society, and others in Europe, can justify giving substantial discounts, of 20% and more to certain promoters.

“This is money that is being taken out of the show settlements as PRS income, and given back to promoters in the form of a rebate,” says agent Carl Leighton-Pope who raised the topic at the meeting. “We need some clarity about how much money is being left on the table. Mr Heker was very informative, but none of our questions were answered properly.”

The point was made that many agents and managers were unaware that such deductions from show settlements appear to be the norm in many European countries. “The issue of promoter discounts was first brought to our attention in 1992 by U2’s lawyer Amanda Harcourt, so this is nothing new,” says artist manager Paul Crockford, who was also in attendance. “But a lot of people are unaware of how widespread this is. For instance, there is a 20% discount enshrined in German law, but GEMA gives certain promoters a further 20% discount on top of that and then charges a 15% admin fee itself, so by the time PRS sees any money, 55% might already have been deducted. And it’s not just Germany – it’s Holland, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland as well, and many more.”

Crockford has been pushing for PRS For Music to take a more proactive role in finding a solution to the discounts controversy for some time and IQ understands that PRS representatives will attend a January meeting with GEMA in Munich to discuss the situation.

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