UK music industry angry about new tariffs on live-streams

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

The UK’s Performing Rights Society (PRS) implemented a new tariff on live-streams. Many music industry insiders are angry about this. They claim it will have a devastating effect on an industry that has already lost a lot of money in the past year.

The PRS claims the purpose of the new tariff is to make sure their non-performing members, like songwriters and composers, can also share in the revenue being generated by live-streams. But music industry insiders, like the Independent Venue Week (IVW) founder Suybil Bell, claim that many in the artist community are not happy with the new tariff. Bell explains artists:

“acutely how much the live music community is an ecosystem that requires everyone to thrive in order to survive.”

Currently many of the live-streams in the UK are a way for emerging acts to pay their bills or raise funds for struggling venues and different charities. According to Music Venue Trust (MVT) CEO Mark Davyd, these live-streams will “grind to a halt” due to the new tariff. Davyd told the Guardian:

“It is a tax in the middle of a crisis on people who need the money. No venues or promoters are making money [from live-streamed gigs] – it’s for artists or for charities they care about.”

Venue owners have taken offence to the timing of the PRS. The news of the new tariff has come in the midst of the UK’s Independent Venue Week, which celebrates UK’s grassroots music venues. The Mill, an independent music venue in Bradford, has already cancelled all of his coming live-streams due to the new tariff. Mill director Jim Mitcham calls the timing is outrages and states:

“We already paid for a limited online broadcast licence from them, and a venue licence, so to be hit with this extra charge that we haven’t been able to account for in advance – we don’t know if we’ll be able to continue.”

Back when the tariff was first proposed, the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and the Music Managers Forum (MMF) published an open letter warning the PRS for problems the tariff can cause. Concerns about financial problems arose when the new tariff turned out to be significantly higher than the 4,2% the PRS collects of in-person live shows. When live-streams are making less £250, they will have to pay a flat fee of £22,50 plus VAT. This flat fee doubles when an event makes between £251 and £500. Live-streams that make more than this, will have to pay the PRS between 8% - 17% of gross revenue. They claim royalties artists will receive will make up for the costs, but only 27% of artists playing small venues are members. This means many small artists with tight margins will not receive royalties and be left out of pocket.


Source: The Guardian