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PRS for Music introduces 10% rate for live streams

PRS for Music has announced a discounted 10% tariff on ‘online live concerts’ for as long as artists and venues face restrictions on in-person shows.

The changes to the online live concert (OLC) licence, which covers ticketed rock and pop events, will apply while “the physical sector is facing material restrictions on its ability to operate”, according to the UK performance rights organisation. The new OLC follows earlier proposals by PRS for a new licence for both large and small-scale virtual shows – the former of which would have been charged at up to 17% of gross ticket sales – which met with a fierce backlash from the UK live music industry.

The interim 10% rate was reached following a consultation with nearly 2,000 stakeholders (80% of whom were PRS members, such as songwriters and composers) and apply for as long as “restrictions apply to physical live concerts”, after which a new permanent rate will be benchmarked against “premium video and streaming services”, in recognition of the nature of livestreamed shows.

Elsewhere, the exemption for artists performing their own material will be carried over the small-scale online live concert licence, while organisers of shows grossing less than £1,500 may choose from either a fixed-rate licence or a bespoke rate linked to specific event revenues. All OLCs will also allow viewing access for 72 hours, up from 24.

Additionally, PRS has pledged not to seek fees retroactively from livestream events held in 2020 that generated less than £1,500.

“As the rate is competitive with those charged in other countries, it will help ensure the UK remains a great place to host live online concerts”

A summary of the consultation, and FAQs about the new licence, can be found on the PRS website.

“We have had healthy debate on ticketed livestreamed events with key stakeholders across the industry representing venues, event promoters, digital platforms and PRS members,” says a PRS spokesperson. “Importantly, everyone agrees that songwriters must get paid when their songs are played and used.

“Nearly 2,000 people answered our call-for-views on the topic, 80% of whom were PRS members. More than half (54%) of these songwriters said their work had been performed by someone else as part of a livestreamed concert. Songs are the heart of the music industry.

“The discounted rate we are providing will ensure songwriters, composers and publishers are paid for their work, while allowing the emerging online live concert sector the freedom to innovate and grow. As the rate is competitive with those charged in other countries, it will help ensure the UK remains a great place to host live online concerts.

“Throughout 2020, nearly 8,000 songwriters joined PRS for Music, that’s 22 every single day, and over five million songs and compositions were registered. We will continue to do everything we can to protect the livelihoods of our members, ensuring that their music is valued, whilst at the same time, giving the market the freedom to evolve.”

This article will be updated with industry reaction to the interim OLC rate.

 


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PRS backs down over controversial livestream tariff

Citing feedback from its members, UK performance rights organisation PRS for Music has amended its controversial tariff for small-scale livestreamed shows to exempt artists performing their own material.

The new ‘small-scale Online Live Concert licence’ – which levies a minimum 9% fee on events generating less than £500 – has been sharply criticised by the industry for punishing grassroots venues, artists and promoters, and has reportedly already led to a number of cancellations.

These small-scale events will now be covered by a free licence, available “throughout the period the live sector is forced to close due to the Covid-19 crisis where the qualifying member is the performer”.

According to PRS, the benefits of the new mechanism are that it “allows performing writers the latitude to test the online concert market to find a model which works for them”, as well as to allow writer-performers to “more easily hold a concert in support of others in the industry, such as charity gigs”.

“The change announced today we hope addresses many of the concerns expressed to us”

PRS says it will also be “accelerating its ongoing dialogue” with the industry about a fair interim rate for other live streams, including large shows, while physical live concerts are not possible. “We are committed to agreeing a discounted rate for larger concerts as soon as possible to make these licences available to the market,” reads a statement.

“We are committed to making sure that our songwriters, composers and publishers are well supported, so it is essential that all our members share in the value being generated by online livestreamed concerts when their songs are performed,” says Michelle Escoffery, president of the PRS Members’ Council.

“The change announced today we hope addresses many of the concerns expressed to us over the last few days. PRS will continue to listen to the views of our members in these most difficult of times.”

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, comments: “We warmly welcome this logical revision to the previously announced tariff which has already seen hundreds of live events lost, costing performers and songwriters vital opportunities to generate desperately needed income during this crisis. The announcement of the online small-scale tariff last week, without prior consultation or discussion, was ill conceived and poorly executed. It is good to see PRS for Music acknowledging their error by immediately removing this charge.

“We note that once again the statement is issued to press without consultation or discussion with the sector most impacted by it. A long-term solution that ensures that songwriters whose work is performed in the grassroots sector are recognised and rewarded is achievable. It requires PRS for Music to enter into serious discussions in good faith, prepared to listen and prepared to consider evidence that can result in positive, forward-facing solutions for all stakeholders.

“We look forward to a full and inclusive consultation on these matters in the days and weeks ahead”

“Grassroots music venues want to pay the right songwriters an appropriate fee for the use of their material. The creation of songs is the beating heart of what our sector is about. Let’s work together to fix a broken system that recognises and rewards that.”

I a joint statement, David Martin, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, and Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum, add: “We are pleased that PRS for Music have listened to calls from artists, managers and others across the industry. It is a welcome step forward that writer-performers playing their own material will be exempted from paying for a licence at small-scale livestream shows.

“We also welcome that PRS will now begin dialogue with artists, managers and other key stakeholders about the licensing of larger livestream events, and commit to agreeing a discounted rate while ‘in-person’ shows remain closed. Decisions around collection and distribution of revenue impact cross-sections of the music industry and cannot be taken on a unilateral basis. Therefore, we look forward to a full and inclusive consultation on these matters in the days and weeks ahead.”

Qualifying members can obtain a free PRS licence for small-scale online ticketed events by emailing applications@prsformusic.com.

 


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