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UK's PRS backs down on controversial live-stream license fees

Live stream concert
(Image credit: Gabriel Kuchta / Getty)

PRS, the UK organisation that collects airplay and live royalties for composers and songwriters, as well as licensing live events, has amended recently proposed fees for live-stream performances, following a backlash from performers and venues.

In December, PRS proposed a tariff of between 8% and 17% of gross revenues for live-streamed events - a controversial hike on then usual .2% gross takings from in-person gigs. 

It also announced a new flat fee for any live-streamed shows that generate less than £500 gross. Event organisers of shows with takings up to £250 will now pay the PRS £22.50 plus VAT. The fee doubles for shows grossing between £251 and £500.

Now, the organisation has announced that streamed events making less that £500 will be eligible for a free licence, as long as performers are exclusively performing their own works. PRS also announced it was working on "discounted" rates for larger events: “We are committed to agreeing a discounted rate for larger concerts as soon as possible to make these licences available to the market."

Music Venue Trust, which had led opposition to the new fees said it “warmly welcomes this logical revision... Grassroots music venues want to pay the right songwriters an appropriate fee for the use of their material. The creation of songs is the beating heart of what our sector is about. Let’s work together to fix a broken system that recognises and rewards that.”

PRS said the earlier fees had been proposed following "feedback received by those looking to stage these events and conversations with key stakeholders, including promoters and managers.” Now, its statement continues, the organisation is “accelerating its ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders on an interim rate, while the physical live sector is closed, for online concerts in the coming weeks”.