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PRS For Music has received Copyright Tribunal approval of new terms for one of its main live performance licences, what the rights body calls its ‘Tariff LP’ licence. The new terms will now become effective early next month.

Concert promoters need public performance licences from whoever owns the copyright in any songs performed at the shows they promote. These licences are usually issued via the collective licensing system, which means PRS in the UK. Under its current ‘Tariff LP’ system, PRS takes 3% of ticket monies from any gig or festival in the UK where its members songs are performed, which is most gigs and festivals in the UK.

That system has been in place since 1988, though PRS has instigated two reviews in recent years, mainly because the live sector boomed in the 2000s. After its first review, the society announced in 2011 that it would keep things as they were. But when a second review came along just four years later in 2015, it seemed certain this time changes would be proposed. This prompted two years of negotiations with the live industry, before new terms were finally agreed last year.

The proposed overhaul was then sent to the Copyright Tribunal, the court that can intervene and set rates in the collective licensing domain when licensees and licensors can’t agree on terms. Its approval was required for this revamp.

Although PRS went to Tribunal with most music industry stakeholders endorsing its proposal, there was a delay because the new licence didn’t accommodate the recent trend for some artists to license their songs to promoters directly when they are performing them themselves. PACE, a company that assists artists who have opted to go that route, objected, resulting in a final amend to introduce a little flexibility into the PRS licence where direct licensing occurs. Though quite how that will work remains to be seen.

“By working together with our colleagues across the live sector we have successfully negotiated an agreed outcome for all parties and I’m very pleased that the Copyright Tribunal has now approved the terms, as agreed between PRS and the live sector representatives”, says PRS For Music’s Executive Director of Membership, International & Licensing, Paul Clements.

“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”, he continues, “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”.

The outcome of the review is basically that rates go up slightly at the top of the live sector, and down at the bottom, with the previous minimum charge removed entirely. When the new terms come into effect on 11 Jun, the royalty rate for concerts, and all other live music events within the scope of Tariff LP, will increase from 3% to 4%. However, a new rate will also be introduced to the tariff for festivals that meet certain criteria. These festivals will see the rate drop to 2.5%.

Source: Complete Music Update