UK Collection Societies PRS for Music & PPL Launch Joint Licensing Company

 Courtesy of PPL PRS Ltd.


The organizations' leaders say the partnership will be the biggest of its kind in the world.

Two of Europe's leading collection societies, PPL and PRS for Music, have come together to launch a new company designed to make it easier for U.K. customers and businesses to obtain music licenses.  

Based in the British city of Leicester, the joint venture -- called PPL PRS Ltd -- will administer the licensing of music used in public, known as public performances, under a single license.

Previously, customers wishing to play recorded music in U.K. public spaces, be it bars, clubs, shops, offices or hotels, would need to purchase separate licenses from each organization. The new 200-person company provides a single point of contact and single music licenses covering both companies' respective rights.   

In 2016, PPL and PRS jointly earned almost £270 million ($371 million by current conversation rate) in public performance revenues, which was then distributed to their respective members after running costs. For PPL, those members comprise of performers and record companies, while PRS for Music represents songwriters, composers and publishers.

Plans for the two collection societies to partner on a new joint licensing venture were first announced back at the start of 2016 with clearance given by the Competition and Markets Authority later that year. The board of the new company will comprise PPL PRS Ltd senior management team members, as well as representatives from both PPL and PRS for Music. Suzanne Smith has been appointed to the position of managing director.

In all other aspects of business, including broadcast and international neighboring rights collections, PPL and PRS -- who are both head quartered in London -- will continue to operate separately.  

"In PPL's 84-year history, the joint venture with PRS for Music is without doubt the most ambitious project that we have undertaken," said PPL chief executive Peter Leathem in a statement formally announcing the new deal.  

Calling the new company "an important moment for the music business at large" Leathem went on to say that PPL PRS Ltd was "a move towards greater efficiencies for our licensees and greater returns for our members who create the music enjoyed by those we license all around the U.K."

"This is the beginning of a new era in public performance licensing, which will bring real benefits to our members and customers alike," added PRS for Music chief executive Robert Ashcroft, proudly describing the enterprise as "the largest joint venture of its kind in the world."

According to its most recent financial figures, PPL collected £212 million ($273 million) in 2016, paying out a record total of £179 million ($230 million) after costs and deductions to its members.

The same year saw PRS -- which represents the rights of over 125,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the U.K. and 2 million worldwide -- collect £621 million ($794 million), paying out £527 million ($674 million) to its members. 


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