The MMF and FAC Condemn PRS for Music’s “Sudden and Dramatic” Increase in Administration Fees

The Music Managers Fund doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with PRS for Music’s new fees.

First, the good news.

Two days ago, British collecting society PRS for Music posted $946 million in annual collection revenue.  This figure marks a new record for the collecting society.

In addition, PRS collected £280.6 million ($362.7 million) through agreements with collecting societies around the world.  This figure represents a 9.1% increase over 2017, and a 42% growth rate over the last three years.

Royalty income also grew 17% to £145.7 million ($188.3 million).  Plus, the live sector grew 12.8%, climbing to £38.9 million ($50.3 million).

Now, the bad news.

Income from traditional broadcasters – the BBC, Sky, and Global Radio – declined 5.1% to £127.7 million ($165.1 million).

Royalty income from general business usage also decreased to £192 million ($248 million).  In addition, distribution to songwriter, composer, and music publisher members dropped 0.2% to £603.6 million ($800 million).

Plus, topline costs increased 8.8% to £93.8 million ($122.8 million).  PRS dismissed this notable increase to “planned strategic spend relating to restructuring the organization, and additional commission linked to the uplift in online revenue.”

Overall costs also grew 8.5% to £97 million ($126.9 million).  Dismissing the increase, PRS said this was due to “investment and transition costs.”

Now, with 2019 well underway, two major British music organizations have spoken out over PRS’ major fee increases.

The British music industry v. PRS for Music.

The Music Managers Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) have called for an open discussion with PRS.

The move follows the UK collecting society’s “sudden and dramatic” increases to PRS’ administration fees on multiple income streams.  This includes overseas collections.

Last week, the collecting society told its members about the new fees following the publication of its 2018 financials.  PRS has argued these costs – which have steadily increased – are merely part of the traditional fees needed to run the non-profit organization.

The MMF and FAC didn’t buy it.

Slamming PRS’ historic failures, the MMF wrote,

Apparently implemented to compensate for historic failures within PRS’s own distribution systems and pensions commitments, [the increases] will result in yet another levy on creators’ earnings – and at the very moment when, thanks to the monumental demand for audio streaming, their royalties should be increasing.

MMF also warned these fees will penalize new and upcoming writers for “the past business mistakes of others.”

Lambasting PRS’ “inefficient” and unnecessarily complex collection revenue process, the MMF continued,

In direct contrast to the artists who perform on recordings, who are increasingly compensated in a transparent and time-efficient fashion, those who write the songs frequently find their royalties shuttled through a network of overseas collecting societies and publishers.

Such inefficiencies result in less and less money finding its way to songwriters’ pockets.”

Thus, alongside FAC, MMF has demanded that PRS explain its rationale for forcing songwriters to pay more in admin fees on both live and overseas income.

[We’re] calling on PRS to provide greater clarification.”

PRS for Music has yet to respond.


Featured image by stux (CC by 2.0).

One Response

  1. Anonymous

    I worked at PRS during the transition to pplprs. My gosh I’ve got some stories that would blow your mind about deep financial and organisational inefficences. It’s not the gleaming success story they paint in the media. The direct result is rights owners being penalised for terrible mistakes.