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UK fests warn against “catastrophic” tariff rise

The Association of Independent Festivals says an increase in the PRS live tariff would harm grassroots events, and has reiterated its call for a separate festival fee

By Jon Chapple on 14 Jun 2016

Camp Bestival, Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Jim Champion, PRS festival tariff

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has sounded the alarm against any move by UK collection society PRS for Music to increase the fees paid by its members, warning that any rise in the 3% popular music concerts (LP) tariff would be “catastrophic” for grassroots music festivals.

PRS for Music (formerly the Performing Rights Society) is currently reviewing the fees paid by its licensees. The current live music tariff, which collects 3% of gross box-office receipts per event, has been in force since 1988.

AIF supports the establishment of a festival-specific tariff for the UK, similar to the MS Tariff in the Republic in Ireland – a call echoed by participants at Eventbrite’s Free and Public Events Roundtable in April.

Paul Reed, general manager of the AIF says: “It is remarkable and absurd that festivals and concerts sit under a single tariff. With the global recorded industry in transition, independent festival promoters are taking risks on breaking artists and staging high-risk events on incredibly tight margins. PRS for Music’s plans to increase this already inflexible and damaging tariff could mean the bankruptcy of many events that provide a valuable platform for both emerging and established artists.

“PRS for Music’s plans to increase this already inflexible and damaging tariff could mean the bankruptcy of many events that provide a valuable platform for both emerging and established artists”

“There is a clear, unarguable need for a separate festival tariff. This already exists for festivals in [the Republic of] Ireland, a clear precedent and a workable model that PRS should consider and which would result in a solution that is fair, transparent and sustainable.”

Reed adds: “It is also prescient that PRS for Music has over 118,000 members and approached just under 32,000 of them as part of this consultation. They received just 48 responses from their members (0.15%), which is derisory. Songwriters, therefore, are not driving this process. Any increase would be a naked land grab by PRS, driven solely by their executives and some major music publishers.”

AIF argues that PRS for Music doesn’t currently take into consideration that many festivals are actually multi-arts events, or that not everyone is attending them solely for the music. It says that some AIF members have only 12% music content onsite, and are currently paying the equivalent of over 25% of their music programming budget as a result of PRS’s existing system.

 


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