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PPL donates £75k to Stagehand Covid-19 fund

The Stagehand Covid-19 relief fund has been bolstered by a £75,000 donation from PPL, the UK’s music licensing company for performers and recording rights holders.

The fund was founded by the Production Services Association (PSA) in September 2020 to support touring crews and event production workers during the live industry’s ongoing unemployment crisis.

According to Stagehand, the fund has been able to provide some of the 20% of people (more than 1,500 workers) who have fallen through the gaps in governmental support with grants of up to £500 for food and housing bills.

PPL’s second donation to the fund will enable Stagehand to open the fifth round of applications for crew in need.

“PPL and live event production workers are at opposite ends of the music business,” says Mike Lowe, Stagehand Chair of Trustees.

“It is so heartening that PPL regard the entire business as one ecosystem”

“It is so heartening that PPL regard the entire business as one ecosystem and at a time when our sector is on its knees, offers help. PPL was the first major organisation to make a significant donation, helping to raise awareness of the plight, as well as kick-starting the campaign and inspiring other contributions.

“PPL’s most recent donation will continue to help live events crew through these extremely difficult times, and it is a very appreciated endorsement for the work that Stagehand is doing.

Peter Leathem, PPL CEO, says: “The pandemic has been an incredibly tough time for many, but it has also shown our industry at its best. Stagehand, as well as other hardship funds from the likes of the Music Managers Forum, Help Musicians, the Musicians’ Union, AIM and the BPI, has brought the music community together to help those facing financial difficulties. PPL is proud to continue to support these funds. We hope this latest contribution to Stagehand will help crew and production workers while the live industry plans its return.”

Stagehand has launched a number of fundraising initiatives including the ILoveLive prize draw, which raised more than £300k from the auction of unique live music memorabilia, and Prints for Music, which saw celebrated photographers donate iconic music photography to raise money.

Donate to the Stagehand Covid-19 relief fund here.

 


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UK venues criticise PPL tariff increase

British copyright collection society PPL has released details of its new specially featured entertainment (SFE) tariff, which will see UK businesses that play recorded music faced with a significant increase in fees.

The SFE tariff – the new version of which comes into force on 1 July 2019 – relates to the playing of recorded music in public at events such as DJ and club nights, and applies to venues, nightclubs, pubs, bars, cafés, restaurants and hotels.

While PPL says the current tariff, which has been in place since the late ’80s, specifies fees that are “too low to be an appropriate reflection of the value to businesses of using recorded music at SFE events”, those who will be paying the higher fees have suggested they could have a “devastating” effect on many entertainment businesses.

DHP Family’s Julie Tippins – who wrote for IQ last October saying a PPL fee increase could lead to the closure of successful UK venues – calls the new tariff a “slap in the face”, especially given the recommendations of the DCMS live music report, released the same day, which called for more support for grassroots venues.

Why the new PPL tariff would be catastrophic for UK music

“It’s obvious to us that these new tariffs do not address the issues that grassroots venues are facing and if implemented they would still represent a substantial hike in PPL charges at a time when many small venues are already facing a perilous financial future,” Tippins tells IQ. “We suggest PPL has a complete rethink, and looks towards reducing charges, and try encouraging the musical ecosystem that will provide artists for the future – rather than putting in measures that will destroy it.

“Yesterday the DCMS reported on the problems that small venues face and asked the music industry to step in and support it. This feels like a slap in the face to both the recommendations of the DCMS and venues in this country.”

“We believe that the new SFE tariff delivers a fairer return for our members”

PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) collects and distributes royalty monies of behalf of performers and record companies for the use of their recorded music. The SFE tariff changes include:

“I would like to thank our licensees for engaging with PPL’s SFE consultation,” says PPL CEO Peter Leathem (pictured). “We have listened to their views as part of finalising our new SFE tariff. Recorded music forms a very significant part of SFE events and we believe that the new SFE tariff delivers a fairer return for our members who create that music.

“We look forward to working with our licensees and their representatives to ensure as smooth a transition as possible to the new SFE tariff.”

UKHospitality, a trade association which represents bars, cafés, hotels, nightclubs and other leisure businesses, describes the new fee structure as a tax on music venues, and estimates it will cost the hospitality sector in the region of £49 million.

Its chief executive, Kate Nicholls, says: “The decision to introduce a new tax for music venues could be potentially devastating. This new tax will see venues hit with an average 130% increase which we estimate will cost the hospitality sector upwards of £49 million.

“extra fees such as PPL’s will only wring the last life out of venues”

“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.

“The UK’s music venues are some of the hospitality sector’s most exciting businesses. Music plays an enormous role in our lives culturally and socially as well as economically, but extra fees such as PPL’s will only wring the last life out of venues.

“UKHospitality has been in discussions with PPL and repeatedly highlighted the problems this new tariff would lead to. We had some success in avoiding proposed structural changes but it is disappointing to see them ignore our warnings and push ahead with a hike. Unless PPL rethinks this charge then they are only going to put the businesses they want to charge out of business.”

Mike Klist, of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII)’s tells the Morning Advertiser​: “The BII is disappointed by PPL’s decision to raise the tariff on the SFE licence by 130% on average. Pubs and clubs that are liable for the tariff are predominantly in the night-time economy, which is so important not only to our high streets, but also our rural communities.”

Full details of the new SFE tariff can be found on PPL’s website at www.ppluk.com/sfetariff.

 


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PPL PRS MD Suzanne Smith steps down

British collection societies PRS for Music and PPL have announced that Suzanne Smith has stepped down as managing director of their public-performance joint venture, PPL PRS Ltd.

Smith, formerly of credit reference agency Experian, joined the company in April 2017, overseeing its initial launch in Leicester, the creation of TheMusicLicence, which represents both companies’ rights for public performance, and the launch of the business in February 2018.

PPL CEO Peter Leathem says: “Suzanne, with her drive and energy, has been invaluable in building the foundations of PPL PRS Ltd over the last two years. We are grateful to her for the commitment and dedication she has shown to this initiative to simplify access to the licences businesses need when they play or perform music, and wish her every success in the future.”

“We are indebted to Suzanne for her leadership both before and after the launch of the business and look forward to building on the foundations she has created,” adds PRS for Music chief executive Robert Ashcroft, “to communicating the value that music brings to businesses and to growing the royalty revenues on which our respective memberships depend.”

Christine Geissmar, PPL’s chief operating officer of PPL, has taken over as interim MD until a replacement is found.

 


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Why the new PPL tariff would be catastrophic for UK music

What’s that saying: “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.

In the live music and nightclub industry – some of the costs we have to pay to play recorded music or host live music often feel just like a tax – I’m talking PRS and PPL.

These two monopoly businesses rarely (if ever) get a good word said about them from the venues that have to pay these charges. They take our money, but they never support us – and without live music venues or night clubs, how would UK music acts ever develop into international stars?

There is no recognition from these copyright collection agencies that we are a vital part of the music industry in this country – whether we are grassroots venues, nightclubs, bars with DJs or festivals with DJ tents. We are just the magic money tree constantly paying our fees up to these monopolies, despite closures of grassroots venues across the country. The UK lost 45% of all nightclubs between 2005 and 2015, and pubs and bars are still closing at a rate of 18 per week in 2018. Ever seen PPL or PRS raising concerns or offering to help with this decline? No… me neither!

If we fail because of yet another massive increase in our running costs, it won’t just be the venues affected

And just to be clear, we and all other music venues are not arguing that we should not pay PRS or PPL; we do and will continue to support artists, bands and songwriters through paying for use of copyrighted music. This is about the amount that we are being told to pay.

In July, PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) – which collects and distributes royalties for performers and labels when recorded music is played, as opposed to PRS for Music (the Performing Right Society), which pays songwriters, composers and publishers, including for live performances of their music – announced a review of its specially featured entertainment (SFE) tariff, which covers nightclubs, pubs and bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels.

Among other things, PPL’s proposals would include a revision of its ‘fee-per-person’ measurement, leading to proportionately higher charges for larger events. In its consultation paper, the collection society says that, “in line with PPL’s key principle of fairness, PPL believes that in a revised SFE tariff the ‘fee per person’ for all SFE events should be broadly the same, regardless of the size of the audience. This aim is easier to accomplish with attendance bands of equal size, and therefore PPL’s current thinking is that a revised SFE tariff should use consistent bands of 25 people regardless of the size of the audience.

“The fee would be set at the top of each band.”

This increase would not be economically viable for our businesses

The proposals from PPL are quite outrageous. We have calculated that for just one venue, the new tariff would increase the annual cost from just under £6,000 to nearly £60,000. The justification from PPL for this would be almost laughable if it wasn’t so potentially damaging to businesses.

They have said they have modelled that this is the amount that people would be prepared to pay for having music to dance to. At time when nightclubs have been closing at a scary rate, this clearly doesn’t add up. We know our customers and how much they are prepared to pay, and we know how business costs stack up, and this increase would not be economically viable for our businesses.

One of our trade bodies, UK Hospitality, has produced some strong arguments why these proposals are extremely damaging to an important sector of UK business – and if we fail because of yet another massive increase in our running costs (after many have faced massive business rate increases, payroll costs and, for many of us, hikes in rent) it won’t just be the venues affected.

Where will artists and DJs be playing? I suspect once again in illegal raves – and those rave organisers won’t be paying any taxes, including PRS and PPL, or making sure people are kept safe. I don’t see that as a future any of us wish for.

 


Julie Tippins is head of compliance for UK promoter and venue owner DHP Family, which runs Oslo, Borderline and the Garage in London, Thekla in Bristol and Rock City, Rescue Rooms, Bodega and Stealth in Nottingham.

PPL-PRS joint venture launches

British collection societies PRS for Music and PPL have formally launched their long-planned joint venture, PPL PRS Ltd, which provides a single point of contact for the licensing of music to be played in public.

Based at Mercury Place in Leicester, the 200-person company is jointly owned by both organisations, who say the introduction of a combined licence – known as TheMusicLicence – will make it “easier to play and perform music in public” by eliminating the need for individual licences from each company.

“We have invested years of effort and millions of pounds to simplify music licensing for UK businesses and on behalf of PRS for Music, I am delighted to launch what is the largest joint venture of its kind in the world,” says PRS chief executive Robert Ashcroft. “This is the beginning of a new era in public performance licensing, which will bring real benefits to our members and customers alike.

“This is the beginning of a new era in public performance licensing”

Suzanne Smith, MD of PPL PRS Ltd, adds: “We are very excited to now offer customers of both PPL and PRS for Music a more streamlined approach for licensing their businesses to play and perform music. With the launch of TheMusicLicence we are providing one licence and one contact, enabling companies and organisations to enhance their customer and employee experience by playing music in their premises.”

PRS for Music (formerly the Performing Right Society) collects and distributes royalty monies on behalf of songwriters, composers and music publishers for the use of their musical compositions and lyrics, while PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) does the same for performers and record companies for recorded music.

PRS is expected to publish its new tariff for concerts – currently a flat 3% of gross receipts – imminently, after changes were approved late last year live music industry associations and stakeholders.

 


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