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2021 UK Record Royalties Expected to Drop

PRS for Music in the UK distributed a record payout to members in 2020, but predicts that payments will fall at least 10% this year.

PRS for musicLondon, UK (April 28, 2021)—PRS for Music, which represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world, distributed a record payout to members in 2020, but predicts that payments will fall at least 10% this year.

PRS for Music distributed a record £699.4m (roughly $945.5m) to its members in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 2% (£13.4m/$18.1m). But while distributions in 2020 were positive overall, many of the royalties paid out last year were collected before the first lockdown, meaning that the sharp decline in income will be felt by music creators through 2021 and beyond, with distributions expected to fall by at least 10%.

Overall, revenues collected from music being played in the UK and worldwide shrank by 19.7% (£159.9m/$216.2m) compared to 2019 to £650.5m ($879.9m), eradicating years of record growth.

Revenue generated from live performances of music represented the greatest percentage decline in 2020, falling by 79.1% from £54m ($73m) in 2019, to just £11.3m ($15.3m) in 2020. Of that revenue collected, most related to live music events staged towards the end of 2019 and in the first quarter of 2020, including concerts from The 1975, Stereophonics, Mabel and Madonna’s UK tour, where PRS members’ repertoire featured prominently.

Public performance revenue overall, which, as well as live music events, includes music used in business premises, shops, cinemas, pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants, saw a significant 61.2% (£136m/$184m) downturn in revenue collected year-on-year, to £86.2m ($116.6m) in 2020, again due to business closure.

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International royalty income continues to be the largest revenue stream for PRS for Music members, underlining the enduring popularity of British music globally, but still saw a 10.7% (£29.7m/$40.2m) decline compared to 2019 on a constant currency basis. A total of £248.6m ($336.3m) was collected through reciprocal agreements with societies around the world. One factor in this decline in international revenue, was the closure of the tourism industry; for example, with cruise ships not operating last year, royalty collections in this market reduced by 75%, from £7.2m ($9.7m) to £1.8m ($2.4m) in 2020.

Revenue generated from music played online was the only area to see growth in 2020, rising to £188.3m, a 5.1% (£9.1m/$12.3m) uplift compared to 2019. As well as increased revenues collected, distributions from online also saw the biggest uplift at 63.2% versus 2019.

Research from charity Help Musicians found that 9 out of 10 people who work in the music industry are in crisis, facing mental wellbeing challenges amidst concerns around their future livelihoods. To support members, PRS for Music, in collaboration with its charity partners PRS Members’ Fund and PRS Foundation, launched the PRS Emergency Relief Fund, and has since paid out over £2.2m ($3m) across 5,500 grants to songwriters and composers facing severe financial hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic.

PRS for Music •