PRS Amends Plans For New Live Streaming Fees After Industry Backlash

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The Performing Right Society For Music has backtracked on their announcement they would introduce fees for smaller artists who want to put on ticketed live stream events, after it sparked debate.

After coming under fire following the announcement of a new licensing model for small-scale live streaming events, The Performing Right Society For Music [PRS] has backtracked on their plans. News that PRS was introducing fees for artists wanting to put on small, ticketed events to perform their own work went down like a led balloon amongst music industry professionals – many of whom have been unable to earn money since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Taking to Twitter, PRS wrote, “Last week we announced a new simplified licence for ticketed livestream events. We’ve listened to the feedback and we’re adding greater freedom for our members. Members can apply for a free licence during the period the live sector is forced to remain closed, allowing them to hold a ticketed live event when performing their own works, where royalties are due only to them. […] We will not be seeking to license small scale online events which took place prior to 27 January 2021, when a licence was not available.”

The original draft of the new licensing model stated that a flat fee equivalent of a minimum 9% tariff would be charged on events that generate less than £500. The suggestion was widely considered insensitive to the struggle many live performers have faced since the global outbreak of Coronavirus saw live events cancelled and music venues shut indefinitely, leaving them only the virtual realm of social media and streaming platforms to earn an income. 

PRS latest statement was received with mixed feelings. Twitter user @giveusatune replied, “Correct. Just scrap the f*****g thing. You know you’re on the wrong side of this one. Consult with your stakeholders and find a fair and equitable solution. Surely that’s not to [sic]much to ask at a time when we ALL should be WORKING TOGETHER!” 

@bleedingobs also commented, “A start, but you’re implying this is temporary and you’ll start charging us for performing our own back-catalogue in private shows still. It’s not addressed most of the issues.”

The Music Venue Trust, who had previously posted their own statement on Facebook to say they had not been consulted by PRS about the introduction of the new model, added to the Twitter thread via their profile @musicvenuetrust, “1. Well done 2. Lots more to do 3. We know you don’t like us shouting at you, but you can easily avoid it by actually talking to us and listening”.

However, even artists who are hosting a free event online should make sure they are following the PRS rules as they may still require a license. Safe and Sound reports, “To host a non-ticketed event online, on a platform that is not already licensed for live-streaming, PRS offer a Limited Online Music License (LOML).

“The PRS rules on licensing are only applicable to events taking place in the United Kingdom, or in UK territories.” 

You can check if and how the new licensing model affects you as an artist here.

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