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PRS introduce new license and tarriff for live-streamed events

The wider industry has criticised the move which has already seen some events cancelled 

Update (01/02/21): PRS issued a new statement proclaiming that any artist hosting an event performing their own music exclusively can obtain a free license. Events performing works from multiple artists who aren't part of the event – such as DJ sets – are still required to obtain a license. Read below for more details. 

The UK’s Performance Rights Organisation PRS has introduced a new license cost for ticketed online events. The license, which is available for events grossing less than £500, would allow the organiser to obtain the necessary rights for their event. PRS said of the license: “Online live concerts are a form of video exploitation and require a licence for the same rights as any other type of online music usage.” 

The license will cost £22.50 plus VAT for any event grossing less than £250 and double that for anything grossing between £250 and £500. For any event with over £500 revenue, organisers can contact PRS directly. PRS have made clear that the license also covers DJ sets. 

Streaming platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram may already have a license for blanket streaming – you’ll know all about this if you’ve been taken down by a copyright strike – but PRS say that Facebook, YouTube and Instagram’s “licence does not cover all the rights represented by us. So if your music is published, your rights may fall under multi-territory licensing deals arranged by your publisher instead. In all cases, it is important that you comply with the terms of use and copyright requirement of any platform you use.”

We’ve reached out to PRS for clarification on what that means for DJs broadcasting on these platforms.

Reported in The Guardian, Music Venue Trust’s CEO Mark Davyd said the new license is “disgraceful” and that it would cause grassroots streaming concerts to “grind to a halt”. “It is a tax in the middle of a crisis on people who need the money,” he said. “No venues or promoters are making money [from live-streamed gigs] – it’s for artists or for charities they care about.” In the same article, a PRS spokesperson said it was not “seeking to prevent artists, many of whom are PRS members, from generating an income from online concerts”, but to ensure that non-performing members such as songwriters and composers “can share in the value being generated by online live concerts which are using their works”.

Other industry representatives have criticised the timing of the new fee, as it comes during Independent Venue Week, which had organised streamed events, some of which have no been cancelled as a result of the new tariff.