'A sensible deal has been agreed': PRS' Rob Kirkham reflects on the new live tariff

'A sensible deal has been agreed': PRS' Rob Kirkham reflects on the new live tariff

PRS For Music’s Rob Kirkham has told Music Week he hopes the new concerts Tariff LP will “stand the test of time” after coming into effect earlier this month.  

The tariff, which had been set at 3% since 1988, increased to 4% (or 4.2% where the licensee elects not to account to PRS in respect of revenue generated from booking fees, administration and service charges) on June 11 following three years of negotiations. 

A new lower rate of 2.5% has also been introduced for festivals while, in a significant boost for grassroots venues, the minimum fee charged for events has been waived entirely. A direct licensing mechanism has also been incorporated for the first time. 

“The difference between the live sector in 1988 and 2018 is just extraordinary,” said Kirkham, PRS' head of business development. “Having put into this all the work that we have, we hope that these modernised arrangements stand the test of time and this is the basis on which we do business with customers for the foreseeable future. 

“Overall, there’s a recognition that a sensible deal has been agreed. I hope it’s going to have a beneficial effect and licensees can now get on with their core business of putting on live music.”

The concessions for festivals and small venues have been warmly received, with Association Of Independent Festivals CEO Paul Reed celebrating a “pragmatic victory” and Music Venue Trust chief Mark Davyd hailing the removal of the minimum fee as a “major breakthrough”.

Live revenues within public performance were up 11.7% to £34.5 million in 2017. However, the 1% (or 1.2%) increase to the live tariff has caused some consternation within the sector.

“Any increase in the costs of operation at a venue level is not a positive,” said former Academy Music Group director Steve Forster, who now runs live music and venues company VMS Live.

“The increase in the tariff from 3% to 4.2% – or 4% if you include booking fees – for most gigs just does not make sense to me. Ticket prices have increased by an average of 10 times since the last review. So 3% of £20 ticket, or 3% of a £2 ticket, has already increased the return to songwriters massively.

“Increasing the percentage rate in an area, where tickets prices are 1,000% higher does not make sense. Inflation in general across the same period is nowhere near the same level, so in effect this a massive increase in both the quantum and effectively a 25% increase in the rate charged.”

Read our full interview with PRS For Music's Rob Kirkham here.

Acknowledging the concessions for festivals and small venues, Forster added: “Overall, I can’t say that I think the decision to revise upward is the correct one for the majority of events, and the only real positive is the removal of the minimum fee.”

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