PRS Figures Brighten YouTube Gloom

Although PRS and other licensing authorities are locked into a stalemate with video-streaming Web site YouTube, the royalty collection society will have drawn some comfort from figures showing it was a record year for British musicians overseas.

YouTube began blocking music videos to U.K. users a month ago, as the U.K.-based PRS asked for rates that parent company Google described as being “many, many more times higher than under the previous agreement.”

PRS criticised YouTube for taking action without any consultation with musicians and urged it to reconsider its decision, while similar rows have broken out in Germany and the U.S.

The silver lining for the U.K. society is that British musical talent earned £139.6 million ($208 million) from overseas markets in 2008, more than 10 percent up on the previous year.

The U.S. remained the most lucrative market, where British artists generated royalties of £21.7 million ($32.3 million). Germany was the second-biggest, with £15 million ($22.3 million) and France was third with £11.6 million ($17.23 million).

The 10 highest-earning touring acts included Iron Maiden, Elton John, The Spice Girls, Def Leppard, Coldplay and The Cure.

“The increase is partly due to increased airplay and usage in Eastern Europe and Latin America,” said PRS spokesman Barney Hooper. “This is a record year and British music is still doing very well across the globe.”

PRS, which has 60,000 members, has seen international royalties more than double since 1999, when they stood at £68 million.

International royalties now account for 35 percent of PRS’ total revenue.