Mixed response to PRS fixed-fee licensing portal for small-scale livestreams

PRS for Music has launched a new licensing portal, the Online Live Concert Licence, aimed at music creators, venues and promoters wanting to stage and stream small-scale performances or DJ events

PRS for Music has launched a new licensing portal, the Online Live Concert Licence, aimed at music creators, venues and promoters wanting to stage and stream small-scale performances or DJ events.

Created for events with revenues beneath £500, the new licence covers the same rights that should be bought for any other form of gig and is a response to the plethora of live-streamed concerts that has evolved during the pandemic. However, as the damage to the live music sector is of such a level that the PRS has set aside the usual incremental revenue stream to live performance and is offering fixed fees of £22.50 for sub-250 audiences and £45 up to 500 attendees.

The PRS hopes this simple system will restore some of the revenue that is being lost to rights holders during the pandemic while not preventing livestreams from taking place. ‘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,’ it says.

However, the Music Venue Trust has reacted angrily to the PRS move, claiming that the new licence is at odds with the discussions between the organisations that have been on-going since the start of the pandemic. ‘At no time during those regular conversations across eight months has anybody suggested that a new tariff for streaming would be created. We have not been consulted on such a tariff, advised of it, or even notified of it prior to this press release being issued,’ it said in a statement, arguing that the money raised by the licence fees will not feed back to grassroots musicians.

‘The principal financial beneficiaries of paid streaming during this crisis have been artists. The beneficiaries of charitable streaming, online broadcasts by artists to raise money for causes by donations from audiences, have included venues, crew, artists, and the wider community, including healthcare worker, food bank and homeless charities.

‘It is unclear from their press statement whether PRS for Music wishes to reduce the financial returns for artists seeking to pay themselves or on artists trying to support charities.’

Despite this, PRS for Music is hoping that the new system and further work it is doing on the rise of live-streamed music performance will resonate with collection agencies elsewhere in the world. ‘PRS for Music is proactively in discussion with other societies to deliver licensing solutions for UK based gigs and concerts which might be accessed internationally,’ it states. ‘A global blanket licence of this type would be the first of its kind within the collecting society network.’

The society is encouraging its members to access its new educational webpage to learn more about making a living from online performances.

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