PRS For Music CEO Andrea C Martin has spoken at the collection society’s AGM about the collection society’s initiatives on diversity, data and making change across the whole music ecosystem.
The annual general meeting was staged at IET London: Savoy Place and livestreamed online. It follows the PRS financial results last month.
The speech from Andrea C Martin was part of a wider members’ day featuring a PRS Explores session on NFTs hosted by Nigel Elderton, chair of the PRS Members’ Council, along with Cliff Fluet (partner at Lewis Silkin, co-head and founder of their media & entertainment practice), Dr Hayleigh Bosher (associate dean/senior lecturer in IP law at Brunel University) and Mike Walsh (UK head of strategic partnerships at Serenade).
Lorna Clarke, director of music at the BBC, was lined up as special guest in conversation with president of the PRS Members’ Council, Michelle Escoffery.
PRS Presents in partnership with PRS Foundation lined up performances from Baba Ali and Nia Wyn.
During her speech, Andrea C Martin spoke about the need to improve industry-wide data and payments.
“We are committed to affecting change across the whole music ecosystem, working with the IPO and our industry partners to speed up and consolidate the matching of musical works and sound recordings,” she said. “Without which we can never truly maximise and grow creators’ online royalties.”
Martin also revealed the scale of the collection society’s deal-making, following the appointment of Dan Gopal in early 2021.
“Last year we concluded a record number of new and improved major licences, a total of 49 deals,” she told the AGM audience.
You can read the full speech below…
Welcome to everyone who has joined us here today and all of you online. This is my third AGM and my first ‘in person’. So, it is particularly special for me to be amongst members and industry friends today.
The last two years have been a reminder of the resilience and power of your music.
And with the pandemic hopefully behind us, there is a growing sense of togetherness and optimism within our community.
Not just for the opportunities which lie ahead but because of all we have accomplished over the last two years. I am certainly proud of what PRS for Music have achieved.
In 2020, when members needed it more than ever, we paid out more royalties than ever before, just under £700 million.
Last year we concluded a record number of new and improved major licences, a total of 49 deals. Securing better terms from existing customers and opening up new revenues from emerging businesses.
A new service agreement with MCPS, signed in November, solidified this longstanding and important partnership. Ensuring we continue to simplify licensing for customers, while maximising the value of rights and providing real cost savings.
I am proud we have embraced the new normal and are at the cutting edge of the workplace revolution.
Our Hub in London Bridge is a model of the post-pandemic working environment, one which fully embraces the hybrid world, actively promoting innovation and collaboration. All while realising significant cost savings for members.
Once our property strategy is completed later this year, we will deliver annual savings of over a million pounds.
As my adult children have heard me say thousands of times - where there is a will there is a way.
Over the last two years PRS has certainly embraced solutions and strived to innovate, driven by our focus on enhancing our relationships with customers and better serving the membership.
This is our new growth mindset, maintaining this ambition and determination will drive our new purpose and vision.
I set out this vision at last year’s AGM.
Central to which was our resolve to surpass a billion pounds in royalties paid out. While still reducing our cost to income ratio to below ten percent.
It might have seemed bold to set out a vision for aggressive growth in the middle of the pandemic. Particularly as revenues fell for the first time in over a decade, and we were predicting a more than ten percent decline in distributions.
However, I was confident then, as I am now, we have the foundations and team to deliver our vision.
And I am pleased to say we had a very good year in 2021.
In a year punctuated by continued uncertainty we achieved revenue growth of over twenty-two percent, returning to near twenty-nineteen levels.
While significantly limiting the anticipated decline of distributions.
Alongside our commitment to significantly increase the royalties paid, reduce our costs to income ratio, and innovate in our system and partnerships. Our new vision redefined our determination to provide the best possible service and overall support to members.
I have always been clear we must be “brilliant at the basics”.
This means ensuring we have the right infrastructure and people to deliver our core functions, supporting members, maximising the value of the rights entrusted to us and making accurate and timely distributions.
We cannot innovate and collaborate if we are not first meeting members’ needs and expectations.
I am delighted over the three years of my leadership we have secured these strong foundations.
This includes our new CRM system which has delivered significant upgrades to our joining process, a new help centre, and fully integrated membership services – all while providing cost efficiencies for our members.
We have moved our distribution systems to the Cloud, allowing us to process usage data more effectively, quickly and accurately. Last year we processed 27 trillion lines of music uses, a four times increase over the last five years. By moving our services on to the Cloud we are not only meeting the challenges of today but for the years to come when tens of trillions become hundreds of trillions.
At the end of last year, we announced the appointment of a new ICE CEO. Peter de Mönnink brings a wealth of experience running large media and technology companies, and in particular accelerating innovation and growth. We look forward to working with him, the whole ICE team, and our partners to secure ICE’s position as a world leading provider of multi-territory and data solutions.
I believe that diverse companies, organisations that embrace and celebrate diversity of thought and background, are more successful companies. Better at attracting talent, increasing employee satisfaction and improving decision making. We also recognise that PRS for Music needs to reflect the broad church of the membership. We continue to make progress on this journey and later you will hear Michelle set out what we have achieved and where more focus is needed.
However, I would personally like to note the progress we have made in increasing the number of women on our Members’ Council. And would like to formally welcome Gill Mansfield as one of our new Independent Directors. Gill joined us earlier this year and is already having a significant impact.
And while I have the opportunity, I want to also welcome Helen Sachdev recently appointed as the Chair of PPL PRS Ltd. Much more work is still needed to support diversity and inclusion across PRS and the wider industry, but I know the commitment to progress is shared by the whole PRS team.
Looking to the future, delivery of our ambitious five-year plan is well underway. Our data strategy established a new governance framework, empowering the PRS Team to better maximise data across all our activities.
This includes, as way of an example, embedding new machine learning and AI software, to reduce the need for manual matching, ultimately increasing accuracy and speed of payments.
On a similar theme our end-to-end distribution review will identify practical solutions to accelerate payments, simplify our current processes and ultimately give members more information about their royalties and how their works are being used.
While our new project to re-design the work registrations systems will begin in earnest in the coming months. Starting with member consultation, before moving on to a proof of concept later this year.
And my aspirations go beyond PRS’ own systems. We are committed to affecting change across the whole music ecosystem, working with the IPO and our industry partners to speed up and consolidate the matching of musical works and sound recordings. Without which we can never truly maximise and grow creators’ online royalties.
Finally, in the coming months you will see more from the PRS Community initiative, events like today’s members’ days, all focused on providing greater opportunities for members to further their knowledge and understanding of PRS and the wider industry.
Everything we have achieved over the last year would not have been possible without the PRS Team. I thank you all for your passion, expertise, care and commitment.
And of course, my thanks for the wisdom and support of the Members’ Council and Board. In particular, to Stephen Davidson, Chair of the Board, your advice and guidance have been so valuable to me and the whole leadership team. And of course, to Dru Master, Deputy Chair of the Members’ Council my sincere thanks.
Finally, I want to say a few words about our Chair, Nigel Elderton. This AGM will be Nigel’s last as Chair and at the end of this year he will be stepping down as a Director, after 30 years of service. Nigel is a true leader in our industry and without him PRS would never have evolved and grown into the world leading CMO it is today.
On a personal level I want to thank Nigel for his help and expertise over the last three years. To have access to his knowledge, experience and friendship has been a blessing and instrumental in realising my aspirations for PRS.
Finally, my thanks to all our members, without which there would be no music industry.
Your creative brilliance is a constant source of inspiration to us all.
And of course, PRS is nothing without you.