PRS AGM backs major governance changes at collection society

PRS AGM backs major governance changes at collection society

PRS For Music is making big reforms to the organisation.

The governance changes approved at today’s AGM were part of CEO Andrea C Martin’s vision for the collection society following her appointment last year. But as previously reported in Music Week, the impact of Covid-19 has increased the urgency to cut costs and find ways to speed up decision-making. 

The reforms are the first proposed major governance changes for PRS in 20 years. The changes were approved by members at the virtual PRS AGM.

With over 1,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members engaged either on the day, or through the voting process, this year’s AGM set a record for the highest participation in the organisation’s history. It was also the first AGM to be led by Andrea C Martin since joining as CEO last year and follows record results achieved in 2019. However, Martin has warned about the long-term impact of coronavirus on revenues.

The newly approved governance changes include: 

•        PRS board becoming a smaller Members' Council with fewer directors and focused on member engagement 

•        Appointment of a new writer president  

•        A new electoral college system for director appointments 

•        Maximum terms of service for board directors 

•        Streamlined decision-making through refocused committee reporting structures to give greater time to focus on strategic issues 

The PRS for Music board will have a renewed focus on strategic delivery and commercial operation, enabling PRS’ executive leadership team to manage the business with full accountability to the board. 

Andrea C Martin said: “Early on, I recognised that to create a new PRS, a new governance structure would be required. Change is never an easy thing to embrace but standing still in a world of now 19 trillion performances, and growing, across multi-territories and with fragmented rights is not an option. The new governance will make PRS more flexible, more fleet-of-foot in our decision-making process and more cost-effective. On behalf of everyone at PRS, we are excited by the challenges ahead and motivated by change.”  

PRS for Music chairman Nigel Elderton said: “I am incredibly pleased to see that our proposed governance changes have been approved. These changes will allow us to deliver more engagement, efficiency and transparency for our members. Furthermore, we anticipate the approved changes will lead to more opportunities for members to join the Board and by association we hope for greater diversity on the Board in the future.” 

A key outcome of the new governance structure is that it is hoped to encourage better engagement for candidacy and, as a result, improved diversity on the board. 

Martin added: “Any reflection on the year to date must include Black Lives Matter, and the long overdue global debate about social equality and injustice. I am completely committed to positive change within PRS and the whole music industry, but first and foremost we must educate ourselves. Personally, I know I have learned a lot in the last few weeks in my discussions with employees.  We will accelerate measures to ensure diversity of our membership is reflected in the make-up of the management and Board. We have already started to take action. As actions speak louder than words.”  

In her first keynote speech as PRS for Music CEO, Martin spoke of company-wide initiatives created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic including the PRS Emergency Relief Fund and PRS Presents Lckdwn, the positive progress of joint ventures PPL PRS and ICE, PRS for Music’s place within the UK music landscape and continued evolution to better support its members.  

Further speeches were delivered by chairman Nigel Elderton, who set out the importance of new governance, the difficulties of the last six months and how the wider music industry can recover. Chief Financial Officer Steve Powell provided a financial overview of PRS for Music’s record 2019, in revenues and distributions, alongside the estimated impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was revealed in Music Week

The PRS AGM was opened by songwriter, PRS for Music member and recently appointed president of CISAC, Björn Ulvaeus, with a special keynote speech. 

He said: “The timing is perfect for PRS to take the decision to become more efficient, flexible and quicker on its feet, which I'm certain the new governance plan will achieve. Congratulations Andrea and the people you've worked with for doing a great job.” 

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