PRS for Music Faces Backlash From 50+ Music Industry Organizations Over PRS Foundation Cutbacks

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PRS for Music is facing backlash from over 50 music industry organizations for its decision to slash donations to the PRS Foundation.

56 individuals, including persons associated with the Ivors Academy, the Association of Independent Music, Punch Records, and the Jazz Promotion Network, just recently criticized the “drastic and potentially devastating” funding decrease in an open letter to PRS for Music.

The Members’ Council of the latter entity – which reported a 22.4 percent revenue increase for 2021 despite a continued decline for live performance royalties – voted in favor of reducing contributions to the PRS Foundation. Subsequently, PRS for Music almost two weeks back penned a roughly 400-word explanation of the decision.

In brief, the concise document reiterates that PRS has given the namesake foundation almost £40 million (currently $50.15 million) since its (the PRS Foundation’s) 2000 debut, besides subsidizing the charity’s operating expenses.

And in this role as the PRS Foundation’s “primary funder,” the organization at the center of the pushback indicated that recent years’ increases in allocated capital (from around £1.5 million/$1.88 million to approximately £3 million/$3.76 million) reflected “the availability of funds at the time.”

“The donations from PRS for Music are funded through income generated separately from the royalties paid out to our members,” execs elaborated. “This income has declined significantly over recent years, not least because of historically low interest rates. As such, the difficult decision was made by the Members’ Council to reduce our donations to reflect the funds available for this income at this time.

“With this said, we are clear that our primary purpose is to collect the royalties due to members and to distribute those royalties as quickly and accurately as possible,” PRS for Music emphasized at the text’s conclusion.

Notwithstanding the explanation and today’s uncertain economic climate, the open letter’s signees called for the savings measures to be halted, claiming that “both PRS for Music’s track record and the music industry itself will be damaged for the foreseeable future if its unprecedented cutback of PRS Foundation funding is enacted.”

The remainder of the firmly worded document maintains that the reduction in question “could set the fragile post-COVID music economy back by decades,” in addition to detailing the PRS Foundation’s initiatives (and the impact thereof) and taking issue with components of PRS for Music’s explanation (including the description of interest rates).

“As signatories to this letter, we applaud the adoption of a ‘growth mindset’ [referring to a statement from PRS CEO Andrea C. Martin] by the PRS and in doing so urge you to value the needs of the sector and look at alternative means of increasing income other than clipping the wings and pulling the rug from under its much loved and much relied on PRS Foundation,” the commentary reads towards its end.

At the time of this piece’s publishing, neither PRS for Music nor Martin herself looked to have responded to the open letter on social media. More broadly, the episode isn’t the first time in recent memory that PRS has faced criticism over its operational decisions.