UK Collecting Society PRS Adjusts Songwriter Rate For Small-Scale Livestreams

Most artists and crews trying to stay alive on livestreaming income are operating on very tight margins.
– Most artists and crews trying to stay alive on livestreaming income are operating on very tight margins.
A songwriter rate needs to reflect that, as many industry professionals are currently trying to point out to the PRS, the UK

PRS for Music, the UK society collecting performing rights on behalf of songwriters, announced a revision to its heavily criticized rate for small-scale livestreams.

The change is relevant for PRS members performing their own works, who can now obtain a free license for concerts generating ticket revenues below £500 ($685).
The offer will remain valid for as long as the live sector is forced to close due to government restrictions in reaction to COVID.
Initially, PRS had introduced a fixed rate for anybody wanting to perform material written and/or composed by PRS members, including those members, who write their own material.
The rate was fixed at £22.50 for livestreams generating revenues below £250, and at £45 for livestreams generating revenues between £251 and £500.
As Roxanne de Bastion, artists, songwriter and PRS member, commented at the time: “PRS have not consulted their members with regard to this new license, which seems to penalize independent artists, who largely perform their own material. 
“It makes absolutely no sense for me as an artist to pay a license to PRS, only to get it back (which can sometimes take years!) once PRS have deducted their admin fees. We need clarification and amendments to this, so that artists are not out of pocket with their livestream shows.”
Artists like de Bastion, who write their own material, won’t have to go through this process under the updated PRS rate – as long as the concert doesn’t generate more than £500.
Andrea C. Martin, CEO, PRS for Music, said: “Live streamed concerts developed rapidly out of the pandemic and it is my job, in a fast changing market, to ensure they get paid fairly and efficiently at all times.”
Michelle Escoffery, president of the PRS Members’ Council, added: “We are committed to making sure that our songwriters, composers and publishers are well supported, so it is essential that all our members share in the value being generated by online livestreamed concerts when their songs are performed. 
“The change announced today we hope addresses many of the concerns expressed to us over the last few days. PRS will continue to listen to the views of our members in these most difficult of times.”
According to PRS’s own data, its writer and composer members have been, are, and will continue to be “heavily impacted by the closure of the live music sector, with royalties from live performance alone falling by between 70-80% in 2020, alongside significant declines in public performance income. 
“With the online global ticketed livestreamed concerts market estimated to have generated $600 million in 2020, all parties acknowledge that the health of the whole music sector depends upon songwriters, composers and publishers getting a share of these new income streams,” the society stated.