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UK live revenue slumps for second straight year

Despite the return of full capacity concerts, royalties from the UK live sector fell 29.2% last year to just £8 million (€9.5m) according to collection society PRS for Music.

The total represented a £3.3m year-on-year decline and a huge 85.2% (£46m) reduction since the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

PRS, which represents the rights of over 160,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers, cites the postponement of high-profile tours by acts such as Elton John, Dua Lipa and Eagles for the slump, along with the impact of Covid restrictions and reduced public confidence.

Moreover, there was an 84% drop in the number of live performance setlists reported to the organisation in 2021, falling from 124,000 in 2019, to 19,300. However, it notes that 2022 has begun with fresh optimism, with more than 240 major tours featuring PRS members planned throughout the UK and beyond.

Revenues are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023

PRS CEO Andrea Czapary Martin told the BBC that revenues are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

However, the body still delivered significant growth, with a 22.4% increase in overall revenues to £777.1m, on a constant currency basis, buoyed by a 45.6% (£83.9m) year-on-year increase on a constant currency basis in royalties collected from music played online to £267.8m.

Music streaming accounted for the largest proportion of online revenue, contributing £225.5m to the overall online income, up 42.5% (£67.2m) since 2020, and 45.5% (£70.5m) since 2019.

PRS distributed £677.2m in royalties to its members in 2021 – a 3.2% (£22.2m) decline on 2020, but just 1.3% (£8.8m) below 2019 figures.

“The entire organisation has embraced the chance to adapt and innovate”

“2021 was a successful year that further cements PRS for Music’s place as a world-leading, innovative rights management organisation,” says Martin. “In exceptional circumstances, and still with a recovering marketplace, we recorded a 22.4% year-on-year growth in revenue to £777.1m. The 45.6% growth in online meant we collected £267.8m – an extra £83.9m on 2020. The 59.6% uplift in public performance is encouraging as it reflects a marketplace, like the economy, that is getting back to business. Significantly, it underlines the organisation’s ability to adapt to all market sectors to fully monetise and protect the value of the music rights entrusted to us.

“Covid-19 has overshadowed my two full financial years as CEO of PRS for Music, but has given me and the whole PRS team, the opportunity to really focus on the importance and value of the work PRS does on behalf of its members and how we can better serve them in all areas of what they do.

“For all businesses, these have been unprecedented and challenging times. However, I believe we grasped that opportunity, and the entire organisation has embraced the chance to adapt and innovate. It will be from these solid foundations that we can meet our vision of becoming a billion-pound society in royalties paid out, while further strengthening our systems and partnerships, all with a cost-to-income ratio of below 10%.”


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