Dedicated to the Business of Contemporary Live Music

Wait for new PRS live tariff finally over

5 June 2018
Paul Clements

FESTIVALS, GRASSROOTS venues and advocates of direct licensing have emerged as the main winners of the new performance royalty tariff for live music, after lengthy negotiations and months of delays finally came to a conclusion.

The new rate, agreed by PRS For Music (PRS) and live sector parties (LSPs), including the Concert Promoters’ Association, sees the royalty rate for concerts rise from three per cent of gross ticket sales to 4.2 per cent, although a reduction to four per cent is possible by providing additional information to PRS.

Festivals will benefit from a reduced rate of 2.7 per cent and can secure a further cut to 2.5 per cent by providing similar additional information.

Inner city festivals which use multiple venues and are therefore subject to the old three per cent rate, have been granted a three-year transition period at 3.2 per cent and three per cent (with additional reporting), after which the rate will rise to 4.2 per cent and the reduced four per cent option.

At grassroots level, the minimum charge of £38 for venues featuring performances of entirely or almost entirely copyright material has been slashed from £38 to £15, and that can be waived if the licencee makes a full event report.

The new Light and Popular (LP) tariff, which had not changed since 1988, will come into effect on 11 June.

“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 CPA chairman and Live Nation Entertainment president of international touring Phil Bowdery.

At the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which represents 65 festivals, chief executive Paul Reed says, “Having made the case and called for festivals to be treated differently to concerts at an early stage of the process, this is a significant result not only for AIF members but the entire festival sector.”

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, which campaigns on behalf of small venues, welcomes the change, saying, “We’re delighted with the result as it means any venue under 200-capacity is immediately better off. The lower the capacity the more economically damaging it was.”

A consultation into a new tariff was launched in April 2015 and PRS believed terms had been agreed with the LSPs in July last year.

But direct performance royalty licensing company PACE Rights Management, which allows songwriter artistes to collect royalties direct from promoters, intervened. The tariff was subsequently sent to The Copyright Tribunal in September, resulting in meetings between PRS, the LSPs and PACE.

“PRS had no direct licensing provision included and were refusing to talk to us,” says PACE founder Adam Elfin.

“We have now got them to include direct licensing and to license proportionally, so it is a massive win.”

However, Elfin claims the tariff’s direct licensing mechanism “lacks detail” and there is no solution as to how it will work in practice.

Paul Clements, PRS executive director of membership, international & licensing, says, “This agreement 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.”

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