Music Venue Trust responds to PRS over "ill-conceived" new tariff on small-scale livestreams

As the Performing Rights Society (PRS) announces a new 'tax' on small-scale online streams, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd has called the move "disgraceful".

Music Venue Trust responds to PRS over "ill-conceived" new tariff on small-scale livestreams
Steve Thrasher

Following PRS' recent announcement that online live concerts of a certain size will require a paid-for licence, the Music Venue Trust has shared a detailed statement hitting out at the idea, with CEO Mark Davyd explaining that the move would mean streams by grassroots bands and artists will "grind to a halt".

Mark tells The Guardian that this new 'tax' – which costs £45 plus VAT for gigs with a revenue of £251-£500, and £22.50 for those that stand to make less than £250 – is "disgraceful" and will hugely impact smaller artists and bands, as well as the charities that some of these livestreams have also been for.

With live music temporarily gone right now in the pandemic, the affect of no gigs on touring bands is absolutely huge. And these sorts of livestreams – which have been put on by everyone from Lacuna Coil to FEVER 333 (as pictured above) to All Time Low to Corey Taylor – are a source of income for artists, crew and everyone behind the scenes whose careers have been damaged due to coronavirus.

Music Venue Trust's full statement reads as follows: "PRS for Music have just announced, without consultation with Music Venue Trust or any other grassroots representative body, a new fixed Tariff for small scale online streamed events.

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"The live music industry, including grassroots music venues, artists and promoters, is in crisis mode and pulling together. The team at MVT have been in regular correspondence with the live team at PRS for Music throughout this crisis on how we can work together to ensure everyone at a grassroots level emerges from this crisis and we can all get back to work. At no time during those regular conversations across 8 months has anybody suggested that a new tariff for streaming would be created. We have not been consulted on such a Tariff, advised of it, or even notified of it prior to this press release being issued.

"The principal financial beneficiaries of paid streaming during this crisis have been artists. The beneficiaries of charitable streaming, online broadcasts by artists to raise money for causes by donations from audiences, have included venues, crew, artists, and the wider community, including healthcare worker, food bank and homeless charities.

"It is unclear from their press statement whether PRS for Music wishes to reduce the financial returns for artists seeking to pay themselves or on artists trying to support charities. We would strongly suggest that neither should have been advanced to the stage of an announcement of a Tariff without understanding the most basic fundamental economics of what streaming is actually doing during this crisis; how much money there is, where it comes from and who is receiving it.

"It is extremely important to the grassroots sector that the songwriters whose work sit at the heart of our ecosystem are adequately and reasonable paid for their work. A fixed rate Tariff is not a mechanism by which that will be achieved, and the methodology and rate proposed by PRS for Music will not result in grassroots songwriters being paid for their work."

In closing, they add: "We remain available to discuss the realities of streaming during this crisis with PRS for Music if they wish to have an informed discussion on it. Unilaterally announcing ill conceived new Tariffs in a crisis is not such a discussion."

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