Efforts by performance royalty collection body PRS For Music to have its new live tariff approved have stalled, after direct licensing company PACE Rights Management intervened, Audience can exclusively reveal.
Terms of a new Light and Popular (LP) deal were presented to the Copyright Tribunal in September after PRS claimed all Live Sector Parties (LSP) were in agreement over changes to the existing rate, which sees PRS collect three per cent of gross ticket revenue less VAT. That arrangement has been in place since 1988.
However PACE, which enables songwriters to bypass performance rights organisations and directly collect their royalties, is unhappy with the agreement which does not recognise direct licensing.
“Somebody has objected and the proposal has to stop when that happens,” a source close to the negotiations tells Audience. “PACE wants to do some direct licensing for artistes and is in competition with PRS.”
PACE’s Paul Crockford, who manages artistes such as Mark Knopfler and Paul Simon, says PRS refused to meet with the company before submitting the new tariff and failed to get agreement from all the LSPs – which include the Concert Promoter’s Association, British Association of Concert Halls and the Association of Independent Festivals.
“They [PRS] put the tariff in prematurely, when there was only an agreement to agree,” says Crockford. “There is no direct licensing solution.”
PRS and PACE met with the Copyright Tribunal in late February in an attempt to resolve the matter. The deadline for the PRS initiative expires on 31 March.
“PRS are trying to bully, although they would say persuade, everyone to agree before the 31st,” adds Crockford.
Another source involved in the discussions, which date back to September 2015, says PRS has always been dismissive of direct licensing.
David Burns, policy advisor and acting cover for the secretary to the Copyright Tribunal, confirmed there was an “intervener” in the PRS tariff case and a further hearing was scheduled for 2 May.
“Unfortunately, I am unable to provide any further information on the expected case duration,” says Burns.
A spokeswoman for PRS says the current tariff will apply until new terms are approved.
“We continue to await the Tribunal’s approval of our application,” the spokeswoman says. “Due to the ongoing process, we cannot comment further at this time.”
It is understood PRS wishes to increase the tariff rate to four per cent of gross ticket revenue, which would effectively be paid for by both the promoter/venue and the performing artiste, in a reduction of available revenue from an event.