A NEW PRS For Music live tariff has been ratified after more than three years of negotiations.
The Copyright Tribunal gave its assent to the deal, which will see the performance royalty collection body increase its tariff from three per cent to four per cent of gross ticket revenue for concerts, on 15 May. Festivals will qualify for a reduced rate of 2.5 per cent if they meet certain criteria, including taking place over consecutive days, involving at least 20 unique performances and being held at a site using temporary infrastructure.
Direct licensing, allowing songwriter artistes to bypass rights organisations such as PRS, and directly collect royalties from promoters, has also been incorporated, while the minimum fee of £38 charged for events, mainly effecting grassroots venues, has been scrapped.
“We have reached an agreement which not only recognises and rewards the huge contribution made by our songwriter and composer members to the live industry but, as importantly, recognises the different needs and strengths of the thousands of venues and events across the UK that are critical to the ongoing sustainability and diversity of the UK live music scene,” says executive director of membership, international & licensing for PRS Paul Clements.
PRS initially launched a consultation into its Light and Popular (LP) tariff in April 2015. Although PRS insisted it had reached agreement with interested live sector parties (LSPs), including the Concert Promoter’s Association and Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), in July last year it was forced to present the terms to the Copyright Tribunal after direct licensing company PACE Rights Management intervened – objecting to the omission of direct licensing.
“PRS initially refused to talk to us,” says a source at PACE. “We have now got them to include direct licensing and license proportionally, so it is a massive win.”
However, the source claims the tariff’s direct licensing mechanism “lacks detail” and had been rushed through.
“There is no solution as to how it will work in progress,” he tells LIVE UK.
It is also claimed the tariff could be interpreted as unlawful when considering the recent decision of the Belgian courts which ruled collecting society Sabam could not apply tariffs based solely on gross ticket receipts for festivals.
“This means the license is being applied to tickets if they are bundled with T-shirts, which have no live right,” he says.
“Yes, there is a deal, but it is a deal that effectively means it is more expensive for the LSPs. When reality strikes we’ll see what happens.”
Chief executive of AIF, which represents 65 festivals, Paul Reed welcomed the new tariff.
“Having made the case and called for festivals to be treated differently to concerts at an early stage of the process, this has been acknowledged in the new Tariff LP with a reduced rate for festivals,” says Reed. “It is a significant result not only for AIF members but the entire festival sector.”
A higher rate of 2.7 per cent will apply to festivals where the licensee elects not to account to PRS in respect of revenue generated from booking fees, administration and service charges. Concerts following the same terms will have a tariff of 4.2 per cent.
“By coming to this agreement, and the recognition of the common ground we share, we believe it works in the best interests of all parties involved,” says chairman of the CPA and Live Nation president of international touring Phil Bowdery.
The new tariff will come into effect from 11 June.