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PRS for Music payouts grew in 2019, but decline expected in 2020


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UK collecting society PRS for Music paid out £686m ($837.2m) in music royalties in 2019, an increase of 13.7% from 2018’s figure. That was based on record royalty collections of £810.8m last year, up 8.7% year-on-year, with the society managing to reduce its net collection costs by 6.7% to ensure that its payouts grew faster than its collections. The biggest share of this came from international royalty income (£278.7m), followed by public performance (a very neat £222.2m), then online platforms (£179.1m) and finally broadcast (£130.8m).

As 2018 licensing deals with Mixcloud, Facebook and Instagram bore fruit, PRS for Music’s online collections grew by 22.9% to £179.1m, but its payouts for those royalties only grew by 0.4% to £115.7m “due to ongoing licensing and processing backlogs leading to some delays from 2019 into 2020”.

Breaking down the online figures further: royalties from streaming services grew by 22.1% to £155m; video-on-demand services (think Netflix and Amazon Prime) grew by 47.5% to £17.7m; but online video games fell by 10.3% to £3.5m. The society processed 18.8 trillion music ‘performances’ in 2019, up by a starting 67.8% year on year.

Now for the bad news: “With TV and film productions on hold, closure of businesses, public premises, and the cancellation of festivals, concerts and other live music events, we will inevitably see a decline in future royalties in 2020 and into 2021,” said CEO Andrea Martin. “We expect the most significant impact will be on our public performance business and the royalties we collect internationally, but at this stage the exact financial impact, and how this will affect individual members, is extremely difficult to fully predict.”


Written by: Eamonn Forde