PRS For Music CEO Andrea C Martin has outlined a five-year vision for the UK collection society with the target of becoming a "billion pound organisation" by 2027.
The organisation – which represents 155,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers – has bolstered its data processing to pay out royalties as quickly as possible. PRS distributed a record £699.4m to its members in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 2% (£13.4m), and also reduced net costs by £12.1m (13.8%).
However, the impact of the pandemic saw overall revenues collected from music being played in the UK and worldwide in 2020 fall by 19.7% year-on-year to £650.5m, eradicating years of record growth.
And speaking at this afternoon's PRS AGM, Martin said: "To secure our renewed purpose we need a new vision. A vision to be more than simply, a collecting society. We will cement PRS For Music’s place as a world-leading rights management organisation. This requires ambition. Which is why we have set ourselves the target of becoming a billion-pound organisation by 2027. Not in revenues, but in royalties paid.
"That is an over 40% increase compared to 2020. This requires tackling head on the challenges of the digital and tech market: to oppose those who seek to weaken your rights, to challenge services which build their businesses on giving your works away for free. And to secure a market where the full value of the song and composition is properly respected and paid."
Ultimately, more diverse companies are more successful companies
Applauding the "dedication and commitment" of the whole PRS team, Martin referenced the upheaval caused by Covid-19 and credited music for providing "comfort, relief and entertainment in an uncertain world". "They turned the adversity of the last year into a catalyst for positive change," she said. "That we were able to announce record royalty payments for 2020, the most difficult of years, is due to the team’s collective diligence, efficiency and flexibility."
Martin, who revealed PRS was close to renewing its service agreement with MCPS, also discussed diversity ahead of the upcoming Members' Council Election.
"Ultimately, more diverse companies are more successful companies," she said. "New people bring with them new ideas and experiences. They challenge old established assumptions and bring new perspectives and skills. This is our shared future.
"I am personally delighted that members, with such broad backgrounds and experience, have put themselves forward for election to the Members’ Council this year. Unfortunately, not all this year’s candidates can be appointed. But of course, we hope they will stand again, and will continue to share their experiences and ideas with us. It was this desire to build stronger relationships and dialogue with members that motivated the decision to create our president role. And I have enjoyed the opportunity to work closely with Michelle Escoffery in this role over the last six months. PRS is hugely strengthened by her appointment.
"In addition, I am excited to begin working with Erica Ingham, as our new independent non-executive director. She brings invaluable knowledge and experience. And as we begin to fill the independent director vacancy, we will again be seeking candidates who bring both expertise and a different voice to the Council. These are all important steps to embedding new perspectives and voices."
She added: "I spoke about the importance of diversity and inclusion at last year’s AGM. And, as I said then, I am proud of the part that PRS played in music industry initiatives such as Black Lives Matter and The Show Must Be Paused.
"Across our diversity and inclusion groups we have identified and challenged the social barriers to success. While recent listening circles with members and the PRS team, have helped set clear success criteria, against which PRS will be judged."
In the wake of this week's easing of lockdown restrictions, Martin shared her optimism for the future and issued a call to arms to the government.
"The coming weeks and months offer a renewed sense of optimism," she said. "Test events, including most recently the BRIT Awards, have shown that re-opening venues and concert halls is certainly possible and is most definitely demanded by the industry and fans alike.
"We are grateful for the support the government has provided to our industry in the last year and it has undoubtedly provided a lifeline for many within the live music sector. We urge the government 'Do not leave the job half done!' We stand together with UK Music in calling for insurance guarantees for the live sector. And, of course, we need solutions, not more words, on touring in Europe post-Brexit.
"The phrase 'new normal' is a reflection of what we are undoubtedly leaving behind, but also of the opportunity to redefine and change. At PRS we will grasp this opportunity. And fundamentally evolve the way we work and execute on your behalf."
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