Livestream licensing has been a controversial area for PRS For Music.
Following a consultation, as previewed by CEO Andrea C Martin in her recent Music Week interview, PRS will now be hoping that the issue can be settled (although the new rules are subject to change once gigs are fully up and running again).
An interim discounted rate of 10% (+VAT) will be applied to online live concerts while the physical sector is facing restrictions on its ability to operate as normal. The original proposal had been for up to 17% of gross ticket receipts.
When gigs return, a permanent online tariff will be benchmarked against other online premium video and streaming services, reflecting both the rights exploited and the market in which they operate.
Crucially, PRS For Music members performing their own work can now obtain a discretionary licence, no matter how much revenue is generated from the events. It means artists can be fully licensed at no cost, as long as the livestream is exclusively their own works, they are performing and they control 100% of the rights without the involvement of a publisher.
All online live concert licences will now allow viewing access for 72 hours, extended from 24 hours under the original proposal. Small events generating up to £1,500 can now either obtain a fixed rate licence or apply for a bespoke rate linked to specific event revenues.
The commitment to not retroactively seek licences from small-scale online live concerts has been extended to include all events that generated up to £1,500 in revenue during 2020.
The changes to the existing Online Live Concert (OLC) licence follow a call for views and roundtables held with key stakeholders from across the industry, including venues, event promoters, digital platforms, and PRS For Music members.
Nearly 2,000 responses were received, 80% from PRS For Music members. Of the members who responded, 51% had held, or were planning to hold, an online live concert, while 54% reported having had their work performed by someone else.
The discounted rate will help ensure the UK remains a great place to host live online concerts
PRS For Music
A PRS For Music spokesperson said: “We have had healthy debate on ticketed livestreamed events with key stakeholders across the industry representing venues, event promoters, digital platforms, and PRS members. Importantly, everyone agrees that songwriters must get paid when their songs are played and used.
“The discounted rate we are providing will ensure songwriters, composers and publishers are paid for their work, while allowing the emerging online live concert sector the freedom to innovate and grow. As the rate is competitive with those charged in other countries, it will help ensure the UK remains a great place to host live online concerts.
“Throughout 2020, nearly 8,000 songwriters joined PRS for Music, that’s 22 every single day, and over five million songs and compositions were registered. We will continue to do everything we can to protect the livelihoods of our members, ensuring that their music is valued, whilst at the same time, giving the market the freedom to evolve.”
The OLC licence is available for pop gigs originating in the UK, which are ticketed, sponsored or require a mandatory donation to access. For classical and theatrical events, PRS is in ongoing discussions with the sectors to determine whether variances are necessary to reflect differences in the way these events operate and are already licensed.
Free events on platforms including YouTube and Facebook do not require an OLC licence, as they are covered by the platform’s licence.