A new performance royalty tariff for live music has been ratified after more than three years of negotiations and an unexpected intervention that added several more months to the process.
On 15 May the Copyright Tribunal finally gave its assent to the PRS For Music proposal, which will see the performance royalty rate increase from three per cent of gross ticket sales to four per cent.
Festivals will qualify for a reduced rate of 2.5 per cent if they meet certain criteria, including taking place over consecutive days, involving at least 20 unique performances and being held at a site using temporary infrastructure. The minimum fee charged for events, usually £38, will also be waived, providing that music reporting requirements are met, such as detailing the set list.
“We have reached an agreement which not only recognises and rewards the huge contribution made by our songwriter and composer members to the live industry but, as importantly, recognises the different needs and strengths of the thousands of venues and events across the UK that are critical to the ongoing sustainability and diversity of the UK live music scene,” says executive director of membership, international & licensing for PRS Paul Clements.
PRS initially launched a consultation into its Light and Popular (LP) tariff in April 2015. Although the organistaion insisted it had reached agreement with interested live sector parties (LSPs) in July last year it was forced to present the terms to the Copyright Tribunal after direct licensing company PACE Rights Management intervened – objecting to the omission of direct licensing (see Audience issue 218).
PACE now claims a breakthrough, in that PRS has acknowledged that direct licensing can be done with festivals – a concept the organisation has fought for months to block.
“PRS initially refused to talk to us,” says PACE’s Adam Elfin. “We have now got them to include direct licensing and to license proportionally, so it is a massive win.”
However, Elfin claims the tariff’s direct licensing mechanism “lacks detail” and had been rushed through.
“There is no solution as to how it will work in progress,” he tells Audience.
It is also claimed the tariff could be interpreted as unlawful when considering the decision of the Belgian courts which ruled collecting society Sabam could not apply tariffs based solely on gross ticket receipts for festivals.
“This means the license is being applied to tickets even if they are bundled with T-shirts, which have no live right,” he says.
“Yes, there is a deal, but it is a deal that effectively means it is more expensive for the LSPs. When reality strikes we’ll see what happens.”
A higher rate of 2.7 per cent will apply to festivals where the licensee elects not to account to PRS in respect of revenue generated from booking fees, administration and service charges. Concerts following the same terms will have a tariff of 4.2 per cent.
The new tariff will come into effect from 11 June.