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PRS for Music: Online Licensing Update and Member Survey

An update on PRS for Music which clarifies various aspects of their licences for online ticketed events.

Published: 18 February 2021 | 12:50 PM
Photograph of a guitarist performing on a stage under blue toned stage lights.
If you are a band solely performing works you have co-written together, or where one band member is the songwriter, you can still take advantage of the free licence offer. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Following feedback from MU members, we have been urgently engaging with PRS for Music to clarify various aspects of their licences for online ticketed events. Below is our updated explainer, with new information highlighted in a grey box.

Consultation

In addition to listening to feedback from the MU and other industry organisations, PRS for Music have launched a call for views on the new licences which is open to members. The survey will run until Friday 12 March. Any feedback submitted will be anonymous though PRS for Music will publish a summary of responses in due course.

Take the survey on the PRS for Music website.

Licensing Explainer

PRS for Music has recently launched a new licensing portal for musicians, venues and promoters wanting to stage and livestream small-scale gigs, DJ events, classical concerts and theatrical events online.

Available for live online events staged in the UK with revenues below £500, the new portal will allow the event organiser to pay a fixed licence fee and obtain the necessary rights for their event simply and quickly. The licence fee is £22.50 (plus VAT) for events with up to £250 in ticket revenue and £45 (plus VAT) for events making £251-500.

The collecting society then subsequently announced that PRS members performing an online ticketed live concert exclusively of their own works, where they will receive all the royalties due, they can obtain a free licence. This applies to online ticketed events with less than £500 in revenue. You can find out more in our previous news story.

PRS have clarified the following points in response to MU member queries:

  • You don't need a PRS licence to perform out of copyright works (where it is over 70 years since the death of the composer) or works not in PRS’ repertoire (i.e. written by non-PRS members)
  • If you are putting on a ticketed event with under £500 revenue and you need a licence, you can either pay the £22.50 or £45 flat fee (plus VAT) or if you wish to take out a licence manually (using PRS’ % royalty rates/minimum per song fees) you can contact the PRS licensing team
  • If you are a band solely performing works you have co-written together, or where one band member is the songwriter, you can still take advantage of the free licence offer (as long as the songwriters concerned are not signed to a publisher)
  • If you are paying for a licence, you can submit a set list for the ticketed online event(s) and the songwriters will receive royalties. There is a form for this on the PRS website but they will shortly be launching a tool for electronic submission of set lists which will make this process easier.
  • If you are putting on a free gig, or receiving donations rather than selling tickets, you will either need a Limited Online Music Licence for your own website (which starts at £146 for a full year) or if the gig is on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube then you won't need a licence as these sites are already PRS licensed.
  • If you are releasing podcasts featuring music, you can again acquire a PRS Limited Online Music Licence for this.

For ticketed online events bringing in over £500 in revenue, PRS can be contacted for a bespoke licence.

PRS for Music will not be actively pursuing licences for small ticketed online events that took place prior to the launch of the new portal on 27 January 2021.

So, why have PRS for Music announced this new tariff for online ticketed events?

Online live concerts are a form of video exploitation and require a licence for the same rights as any other type of online music usage. The tariff differs from the PRS for Music gig tariff because the licence covers a different set of rights; mechanicals and communication to the public (or broadcast) as opposed to public performance.

In the same way that MU members are in general paid increased fees for recording and broadcasting, PRS for Music members are due a higher royalty rate for this set of rights.

That said, there has been a backlash to the new tariff from music venues and some musicians who are concerned about bearing the additional cost of this licence during the pandemic when the live music sector is closed and online gigs provide a small but important revenue stream.

What if I'm just selling tickets for an online event to raise money for charity?

You will still require a PRS licence as you are still performing (or rather broadcasting) copyright works.

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