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PRS accused of being ‘outdated’

26 November 2017

PERFORMANCE ROYALTY collection society PRS for Music has been criticised over the ‘outdated and fraudulent system’ it uses to collect live tariffs from venues.

The organisation charges a minimum of £39 to venues or three per cent of the gross receipts from tickets for each performance and asks for a set list to be provided.

During Music Venue Trust (MVT) event Venues Day, manager and the booker at The Brudenell Social Club (cap. 400) in Leeds, Nathan Clark, questioned why PRS used an outside agency to collect set lists and did not have an effective way to keep track of artistes registered.

“Why not make the format digital so you can submit a set list on the night and so can the promoter,” said Clark, speaking on the panel Money Matters: Here’s a big pile of money, who is getting it and why?

“It needs to be fully transparent. The current system is an outdated, fraudulent system, that is simply wrong. Venues are paying for artistes that are not registered.”

Live Team Manager for PRS Gareth Kelly responded by claiming efforts were being made to improve the system.

“We are doing lots on the digital front,” said Kelly. “The online reporting tool for artistes was launched earlier this year, a venue one is coming, but I can’t say when.”

On the same panel MVT CEO Mark Davyd pointed out another issue contributing to venues losing money – the amount spent on buying hummus for artiste riders.

“It a real problem and there are probably around four tonnes a year being wasted,” said Davyd, whose charity partnered with London start-up Jackpot Peanut Butter this summer (see LIVE UK issue 209) to promote artistes using the product. “Venues need to stop buying hummus.”

The fourth edition of the annual event, held at Ministry of Sound on 17 October, also saw UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher reveal plans to enshrine the Agent of Change principle in UK law in order to protect venues.

Agent of Change seeks to safeguard venues and other businesses, including pubs and shops, from complaints by residents of new housing developments, which can lead to licence sanctions, by making developers liable for soundproofing and other solutions. Although the principle is in planning guidance, it is not compulsory.

“The threat from developers, along with soaring business rates and licensing regulations, could prove a lethal cocktail for many venues unless we work together to help them survive and thrive,” said Dugher.

Former Government Minister and Labour MP John Spellar is leading the UK Music campaign in Parliament to get the proposed new law on the statute book, and is to outline measures in a backbench Bill later this year.

Meanwhile Sony Music Group has come forward to provide financial support to MVT.

“There was a huge amount of positive stuff that came out of Venues Day,” Davyd tells LIVE UK. “I think we are now starting to turn the corner and we have 330 members of our Music Venues Alliance, which is great for sharing best practice and working collectively.”

Davyd says MVT is currently working with seven venues under threat of closure, three is which he describes as “serious”, although declined to name them.

“What I can say is that two are probably among the most iconic venues in the country and that it is quite worrying” Davyd adds.

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