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Festivals pleased with PRS tariff reductions

Festival News
9 July 2018
Paul Reed

WHILE FESTIVAL organisers welcome the reduction in the tariff charged by performance royalty collection society PRS for Music (see LIVE UK issue 221), some would now like greater transparency from the body.

In its first change since 1988, PRS’s Popular Music Concert Tariff (Tariff LP) for qualifying festivals (QFs) has been reduced from three per cent to 2.7 per cent or 2.5 per cent, following a three year negotiation and approval by the Copyright Tribunal.

The reduced rate is linked to disclosure of ticket booking fee revenue.

Concerts taking place in indoor venues pay 4.2 per cent or 4 per cent (if extra data is filed), while QFs are greenfield events which install their own infrastructure.

For Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which represents over 50 member events and one of 10 live music bodies consulted, the ruling represents a victory for the festivals’ campaign recognition of the riskier nature of their business and range of non-music attractions.

But, he says, it will not dramatically alter the burden of risk faced by outdoor festivals.

“This is a pragmatic solution for the sector,” he says. “We argued that the cost of festival-specific infrastructure was not related to the artistes, but was required for customers to have a good experience. Festivals also have a multi-arts content beyond music.”

Rob Kirkham, head of business development at PRS, accepts, “The festivals made some telling points [during the consultation], such as that they invest in temporary infrastructure and face the additional risk of poor weather.

“With most tickets sold online and booking fees more transparent, I expect festivals will account to us on a 2.5 per cent basis, the exception being small events with paper-based operations.”

Steve Heap, general secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers, which represents 250 folk and roots events, and who also organiser of Towersey Festival (cap. 8,000), says “It’s the best deal we could get. The challenge now is getting artistes and performers to complete set list returns [used by PRS to apportion royalties from an event], so the money goes to the right people.”

Meanwhile Isle of Wight Festival (55,000) founder John Giddings says the tariff reduction is, “Definitely a good move but they are still taking revenue on the gross, on things like the campsite.”

He believes 1.5 per cent would be a fairer rate for festivals.

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