PRS For Music CEO Andrea Martin warns on Covid-19 impact

PRS For Music CEO Andrea Martin warns on Covid-19 impact

Following record results in recent years, the UK’s collection societies are facing up to a tough few years ahead.

PPL CEO Peter Leathem has opened up to Music Week about how he expects the Covid-19 pandemic to hit royalty collections.

For PRS For Music, the situation could potentially be more problematic as it is set to lose a big chunk of its live collections, which reached £39 million in 2018. The sector is facing a lengthy shutdown, including the huge summer stadium shows that deliver revenues to PRS. 

PPL only collects for recorded music, of course, so its losses are more focused on clubs and other events. But both societies will be affected by the decision to grant payment holidays to businesses with public performance licences.

“[Payment holidays] for our joint venture around public performance will definitely have an impact on our third and fourth quarter results,” PRS For Music CEO Andrea C Martin told Music Week.

While the live sector may be slowly edging towards some kind of renewed activity, Martin admitted that any licensing of livestreamed concerts would not come close to making up the losses from the shutdown.

“You can have a virtual concert, or maybe a smaller concert where everybody has social distancing and then people would join virtually,” she suggested. “But the digital world does not pay as much as the physical world.” 

In a crisis, the only way to advance is to take decisions, be prepared and be proactive

Andrea C Martin

Both PRS and PPL are set for a drop in international collections, because of the global nature of the pandemic. PRS collected £280.6m in international revenues in 2018.

“We’re now in the middle of forecasting what happens in the third and fourth quarter,” said Martin. “Over 30% of our revenues come from international, so we’re spending a lot of time talking to CMOs to see what the impact is on international.”

Martin said PRS For Music is aiming to “maximise” its next distribution in July, rather than issue advance payments like PPL. PRS is also looking at unlocking some unallocated ‘Black Box’ royalties, though it is not expected to make a significant contribution.

“We're a data company and we need to make sure that data is right,” added Martin. “We don't want to distribute and suddenly find there’s an error. Remember, it's always about accuracy and transparency.”

The societies have also worked to help the music industry. The PRS Emergency Relief Fund has raised over £1.2 million, while PPL has contributed £700,000 to three funds as well as backing the BPI-led fund.

“In a crisis, the only way to advance is to take decisions, be prepared and be proactive,” said Martin.

To read the full report including exclusive interviews with Peter Leathem and Andrea C Martin, subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story click here.

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