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PRS tariff talks stall amid direct licensing dispute

The implementation of PRS for Music’s proposed new live music tariff has ground to a halt, following an objection over the lack of any provision for direct licensing, IQ has learnt.

The British performance rights organisation (PRO) announced last September it had the support of all “major relevant industry bodies”, including the Concerts Promoters’ Association, the National Arenas Association, Music Venue Trust and the Association of Independent Festivals, to push ahead with overhauling the 30-year-old popular music concerts (LP) tariff for shows and festivals, and had submitted plans for a new fee structure to the UK’s Copyright Tribunal for consideration.

However, “any organisation or person wishing to object” to PRS’s application was given until 27 October 2017 (later extended to 3 November) to do so, and PACE Rights Management – the company set up by manager Paul Crockford and agent Adam Elfin to assist public performance licensing directly on behalf of writers and publishers – made an official ‘request for permission to intervene’ over concerns that the new-look LP tariff failed to account for the growth of direct licensing.

The Copyright Tribunal agreed that PACE had a substantial interest, and granted it permission.

As revealed by IQ in July 2016, a growing number of major artists are choosing to bypass traditional blanket licences from PROs in favour of having their public performance royalties paid directly. The rise of direct licensing means many festivals are being forced to pay multiple licensees, as no PRO yet offers an ‘opt-out’ for artists who are not members and are licensing directly.

PACE made an official request for permission to intervene over concerns the new LP tariff failed to account for the growth of direct licensing

European festival association Yourope, for example, has advised against booking direct-licensing acts until a solution can be found.

On 22 February, PACE and lawyers for PRS appeared at the Copyright Tribunal hearing, which a person in attendance tells IQ went in favour of PACE, who sought non-ratification of PRS’s application and that all parties be asked to discuss a tariff that takes in to account direct licensing.

The parties are now in those discussions, ahead of a second hearing currently pencilled for 2 May. Any agreement reached by the parties, however, will only serve as assistance for the Copyright Tribunal to understand the various positions, as it has full authority to ratify or impose whatever tariff it deems reasonable and compliant with the law.

A spokesperson for PRS for Music declined to comment pending the tribunal’s decision.

Tariff LP has been levied at a flat rate of 3% of gross box-office receipts since 1988.

 


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PRS tariff dispute nears end as all parties reach agreement

The long-running review of the UK popular music concerts (LP) tariff looks to be approaching its conclusion, with PRS for Music confirming it has the support of all “major relevant industry bodies” to push ahead with overhauling the nearly 30-year-old fee structure for shows and festivals.

In a statement released today, a PRS spokesperson says the performance rights organisation has applied to the Copyright Tribunal to “vary the terms of tariff LP”, which has been levied at a flat rate of 3% of gross box-office receipts since 1988.

“This submission has been made with the support of all of the major relevant industry bodies representing the live sector, and is now with the tribunal for its determination. We have nothing further to add at this stage.”

The industry bodies in question are the Concert Promoters’ Association (CPA), Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Society of London Theatre (SOLT), UK Theatre Association, British Association of Concert Halls (BACH), National Arenas Association (NAA), Glastonbury Festivals Limited and Music Venue Trust (MVT).

A consultation on changes to the tariff closed in September 2015, and it was initially expected the findings would be presented last spring. At the time, PRS denied the tariff LP “only looks upwards”, describing rumours of an across-the-board rate hike as “wildly speculative”. “This has been a thorough, robust and detailed consultation process where we gave every opportunity for the industry to comment and contribute,” it added.

PRS live music tariff review continues

Last June, the Association of Independent Festivals said increasing the tariff would be “catastrophic” for independent festivals, and called for a dedicated PRS tariff for music festivals.

It is not yet known what changes will be made to tariff LP under PRS’s proposals – or if they will even be accepted by the Copyright Tribunal. Responding to IQ’s enquiries as to an expected date for the new tariff, a spokesperson says the decision is “in the hands of the tribunal”.

 


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