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UK performance rights organisation PRS for Music has amended its controversial tariff for small-scale livestreamed shows to exempt artists performing their own material.

This announcement followed the outrage to he proposed ‘small-scale Online Live Concert licence’ – which levied a minimum 9% fee on events generating less than £500. It was sharply criticised by the industry for unfairly discriminating grassroots venues, artists and promoters.

The PRS U-turn was also music to the ears of its members, who played no small part in pressurising PRS to back down… The amendments include a new free licence, available to small-scale online events performing their own material. According to PRS, the benefits of the new mechanism are that it “allows performing writers the latitude to test the online concert market to find a model which works for them”, as well as to allow writer-performers to “more easily hold a concert in support of others in the industry, such as charity gigs”.

PRS says it will also be “accelerating its ongoing dialogue” with the industry about a fair interim rate for other live streams, including large shows, while physical live concerts are not possible. In a statement they added “We are committed to agreeing a discounted rate for larger concerts as soon as possible to make these licences available to the market”.

“We are committed to making sure that our songwriters, composers and publishers are well supported, so it is essential that all our members share in the value being generated by online livestreamed concerts when their songs are performed,” says Michelle Escoffery, president of the PRS Members’ Council.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, welcomed the ‘logical revision’ citing the impact on performers at a time when they can’t even make a living. He was also critical of the timing of the announcement of an online small-scale tariff without any consultation or discussion, adding that it ‘was ill conceived and poorly executed. It is good to see PRS for Music acknowledging their error by immediately removing this charge’.

In a joint statement, David Martin, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, and Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum, add: “We are pleased that PRS for Music have listened to calls from artists, managers and others across the industry. It is a welcome step forward that writer-performers playing their own material will be exempted from paying for a licence at small-scale livestream shows.

“We also welcome that PRS will now begin dialogue with artists, managers and other key stakeholders about the licensing of larger livestream events, and commit to agreeing a discounted rate while ‘in-person’ shows remain closed. Decisions around collection and distribution of revenue impact cross-sections of the music industry and cannot be taken on a unilateral basis. Therefore, we look forward to a full and inclusive consultation on these matters in the days and weeks ahead.”

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