British collecting society PRS for Music saw its collections grow by 4.4% to £746m (around $965.4m) in 2018, setting a new record. £603.6m was distributed to members, down 0.2% year-on-year “caused by processing delays at our joint venture partners”. PRS said that its international collections were up by 9.1% to £280.6m, while income from digital services grew by 17% to £145.7m. The reduction in people’s viewing of ‘linear’ broadcast TV is having an impact though: PRS’ collections from broadcasters was down by 5.1% to £127.7m, although a big one-off payment from broadcaster ITV in 2017 was also a factor in that decline.
In an interview with Music Ally, to be published in full later today, PRS for Music boss Robert Ashcroft hailed the recent passage of the new European copyright directive, including its Article 17 (formerly 13) element covering online platforms. He suggested that one impact will be on large online-multiplayer games like Fortnite who are using music – in that game’s case, for a recent Marshmello concert and a Weezer album preview.
“The massive multiplayer gaming platforms: their audience is absolutely enormous, with young people watching gameplay and listening to music streamed there,” said Ashcroft. “These are the things that we are obviously looking at and working out what the best route forward is. And that’s why it was so important to get that copyright directive passed. It makes it clear that if you’re hosting this content, you have to get a licence.”