MMF & FAC urge PRS to reconsider livestream tariff and 'unjustifiable' backdated licensing charges


May 7, 2021

The PRS livestream tariff row isn’t going away.

PRS For Music today announced a new licensing structure for larger ticketed livestream events (above £1,500 in revenue), including a discretionary licence at no cost for songwriters performing their own copyright-controlled works.

The headline announcement was an interim 10% “discounted” tariff rate (plus VAT) for livestreams. It will be revisited when gigs can return as normal.

Although there was an extensive consultation process, the FAC and MMF remain unimpressed. Remember, PRS first revisited the proposals for livestreams after the trade bodies hit out at plans they saw as “unviable” based on rates levied at up to four times the 4.2% tariff for concerts.

According to the MMF and FAC, a pressing concern in the latest proposals is the backdating of the new 10% livestream tariff for online concerts in the last 12 months.

In a joint statement, the MMF and FAC said: “PRS For Music’s announcement today that livestreams will attract a backdated ‘interim tariff’ of 10% of gross revenue has the potential to be damaging for many artists who have livestreamed during the pandemic.  

“For most this was the only way in over a year that artists were able to connect with fans, earn some income and employ their crew. We called for PRS to acknowledge this when setting their tariff.  The proposed levy is considerably higher than the initial 8% tariff proposed by PRS in late 2020, and more than twice the rate for physical live shows.

“This rate completely disregards the feedback that PRS received in its ‘call for views’. The responses, which by PRS’s own admission were almost five times more in number than any other consultation they have carried out, make the case for a significantly discounted rate while Covid restrictions remain.”  

We urge PRS to reconsider and come back with fair and reasonable proposals that the whole industry, including their own members, can benefit from

The MMF and FAC acknowledged some “positive changes”, including at grassroots level. But there are questions about how much artists will be asked to pay for hybrid events.

“We welcome global licensing of livestreams as far as possible, but advise that artists and promoters wait until this is formally agreed until fees are paid over to avoid double claims on this income,” they said.

The statement concluded: “MMF and FAC believe that the high level of backdated tariffs for online shows will be widely viewed as unjustifiable. This hits those artists in the middle the hardest and certainly cannot be construed as a ‘discount’.

“We urge PRS to reconsider and come back with fair and reasonable proposals that the whole industry, including their own members, can benefit from.”

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Music Week

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