Monday, March 28, 2011

PRS take falls; blames "piracy"

For the first time in its history, PRS has taken in less money than for the year before:

PRS for Music, the organisation that represents 75,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK, blamed digital piracy and a fall in high street sales for a 1% year-on-year decline in total royalties, down £7m to £611.2m in 2010. Royalties from recorded media fell 8.8% to £117.2m, only partially offset by an increase in income from overseas and from commercial radio in Britain.
Really? They're blaming piracy? That's the best they can do?

Record sales have been falling for ages, and "piracy" has been part of the environment for the whole of the century, so isn't that "normal operating conditions"?
Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of PRS, which represents artists such as Jessie J, Adele and Florence and the Machine star Florence Welch, said: "The loss of high street outlets, the slowdown in physical music sales as well as the challenges capturing the full value of music usage online has meant that for the first time we have seen royalties collected dip.

"Previously, any reduction from falling physical sales had been offset by our strong performance in music licensing both in the UK and internationally. In 2010 slower growth at home and abroad failed to fully mitigate the decline."
Yes, The Guardian really does try to spice up Robert Ashcroft by mentioning that PRS "represents artists such as Jessie J, Adele and Florence and the Machine star Florence Welch" - a very, very cherry-picked trio from a very, very long list.

But there is some good news:
While overall revenue fell £7m year on year, PRS for Music said the actual amount paid out to its members was down by only £0.8m due to reduced administration costs and improved efficiency within the organisation.
That makes it sound like PRS found six million pounds of efficiency, which sounds like a lot of inefficiency that's been burning through artists' money right there.

And there's still more to cut, judging by the continued outpouring of pointless surveys being churned out by PRS:
Latest research from PRS for Music has revealed the top 5 favourite songs, as voted by the Public, to be played at street parties* being held to celebrate the forthcoming Royal Wedding. Also revealed are the top 5 most popular songs for the happy couple’s first dance.
Dancing In The Streets, in case you're interested. Dave and Mick, not the proper one. The "survey" has all the stench of participants being presented with a predetermined list to choose from.
Commenting, Guy Fletcher, Chairman PRS for Music, said: “There are some great suggestions in this chart to help people plan their own Street Party celebrations for the Royal Wedding. As to the first dance, I’m sure Kate and William will chose a song that is special to both of them. Any writer will hope their song is chosen as it will undoubtedly receive both an airplay and sales boost.”
To be fair, without an expert from PRS, who ever would have guessed that the couple would choose a song special to them for the first dance? Why, without this survey I'd have assumed that Kate and Will would have merely installed a jukebox, hitting it, Fonzie-style, in order to randomly select a first dance.

Still, perhaps the survey can be excused because PRS is going to make some money from the licences sold, right?
PRS for Music, the organisation which licences the public use of music, has announced it will make no charge for music licences for certain small community events, including street parties, to encourage celebrations for the Royal Wedding taking place on April 29th.

The policy which will come into effect between 22nd April 2011 and 6th May hopes to help communities all across the UK enjoy the benefits of music to celebrate the forthcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Actually, that's a nice gesture from an organisation that usually tries to force you to buy a licence for humming on a crowded bus, but how sickening that it's not a move they're taking to encourage people to enjoy music, but to fawn over two very rich people having a bunfight. If you're running a small community event on May 7th, perhaps to raise funds to fix a church spire or to try and plug some of the many gaps in public provision being opened up by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, you're out of luck. Pay up, people.

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