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FAC/MMF statement on PRS Small Online Live Concerts Licence

27 January 2021

FAC/MMF statement – Jan 27th 2021 – PRS Small Online Live Concerts Licence

Today, with no prior warning and without consultation with artists or their representatives, PRS for Music have announced a new licence for small-scale live-streamed gigs.

Defining live-streaming as “a form of video exploitation”, this seeks to impose a flat fee equating to a minimum 9% tariff on events generating less than £500.

However, some artists promoting their own shows would be obliged to pay up to 100%+ of gross revenues to PRS – even if performing their own original compositions for free, leaving artists out of pocket, even if fundraising for charities during the pandemic.  Even at its lowest, this rate is more than double the tariff for “in-person” events.

This is despite PRS removing a fixed-fee from small venues shows in person and moving to a standard 4.2% of overall revenue only two years ago.

By PRS’s own admission, it is unclear if they have a legal mandate to licence online shows on a global basis.

David Martin, CEO FAC & Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive, MMF commented:

“All of us want songwriters and composers to be paid fairly and efficiently for the use of their work, but this is not the way to go about it.  Once again, we would urge PRS for Music to stop acting unilaterally.  They need to urgently listen to the growing concerns of artists and their representatives during the pandemic, implement a waiver for performer-writers to opt-out of such fees, and commit to a full and transparent industry-wide consultation before issuing invoices to cash-strapped artists.”

Background

In November 2020, the FAC and the MMF became aware of PRS for Music proposals for a new tariff for live-streamed events – demanding that artists performing online shows pay between 8%-17% of gross revenues to the collecting society, compared to the 4.2% levied at normal “in-person” gigs and performances.

Despite the global pandemic that has severely impacted the livelihoods of artists and music makers, the new increased rate was to be applied retrospectively.

In one stroke, the majority of live-streamed performances would be made commercially untenable, turning off this valuable source of new revenue.

Backed by more than 150 leading artists, songwriters and managers, most of whom have invested heavily in ticketed live-streamed events, our organisations wrote to PRS for Music’s CEO, Andrea C Martin, urging a rethink, and requesting they engage in a full industry-wide consultation with the aim of reaching a fair and viable rate.  Frustratingly, we are still awaiting a written response and in the meantime we have seen the announcement today again without any engagement with artists and representatives who are actually doing these shows.

See here for the new tariff online small concerts tarrif https://www.prsformusic.com/licences/using-music-online/online-live-concert

And here for some very basic modelling of the hit of the PRS flat fee on different levels of Gross ticket income from £0.00 to £500 https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-AyqLOw-WF67wyrS6FlqzEo5vKLJkK8r6Fu-5GyrQN0/edit

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