U.K. Collection Society PPL Posts Record Revenues

Getty Images

Norwegian collection society Tono also sees revenues climb in 2017, but reports that many members are still seeing lower income from digital than "CD era."

Collections at U.K. music licensing company PPL grew to £219 million ($297 million) in 2017, an increase of 3 percent on the previous year, and its highest ever annual total.

As a result, the London-based organization paid out a record £180 million ($244 million, after costs and deductions) to over 98,000 performers and recording rights holders. 

Driving the growth was an increase in revenues across PPL's three main income streams: public performance and dubbing, broadcast license fees and international neighboring rights.

The latter rose by 3 percent year-on-year to total just under £50 million ($68 million). In comparison, last year's financial results saw PPL's international collections increase by 32 percent, although it notes that 2016's figure was inflated by a series of one-off payments it received from overseas CMOs in respect of past years.

"This made the 3 percent growth in 2017 a very positive result," says the not-for-profit organization, which has 87 international agreements in place with overseas CMOs. Since 2006 (when PPL's international collections were just $8 million), it has collected over £355 million ($480 million) internationally for performers and record companies.

In line with previous years, the bulk of PPL's income in 2017 came from broadcast revenue (£80 million, up 3 percent) and public performance licensing/dubbing (£89 million, up 3 percent).

The organization attributes the growth to its "ever-expanding global footprint" and new initiatives in data collection. Earlier this year, PPL joined with fellow British collection society PRS for Music to launch a new joint venture called PPL PRS Ltd to administer the licensing of music used in shops, bars, offices and businesses across the U.K. (known as public performances) under a single license.

PPL's dubbing licensing, meanwhile, covers the commercial copying of music by specialist companies that supply music systems (hard disk systems, satellite/narrowcast delivery and digital jukeboxes) to businesses.

"I am very pleased that PPL has been able to grow its revenue, particularly at a time when we were also heavily focused on building PPL PRS Ltd," said chief executive Peter Leathem announcing the results. 

"This continued success can be attributed to a highly-skilled, dedicated and hard-working team at PPL, our ongoing investment in technology and our focus on innovation, all of which has furthered our efforts to improve the quality of the data which underpins our business and the wider neighbouring rights market," he stated, "We continue to do the heavy lifting so our members do not have to."

Across Europe, Norwegian collecting society Tono, which represents around 30,000 songwriters, lyricists and composers, as well as more than 2.5 million international rights holders on Norwegian territory, also posted strong year-end results with turnover climbing 22 percent to €67 million ($80 million) and €58 million ($69 million) paid out to rights holders.   

Helping to fuel the growth was a record 67 percent rise in international collections, which totalled €7 million ($8 million). The bulk of the organization's income continues to come from broadcasting, online and concerts. 

"We are very pleased with the results for 2017, which confirm that Tono manages an attractive repertoire," said CEO Cato Strøm, who yesterday filed an official police complaint against Tidal over allegations that it had falsely inflated streaming numbers to pay more to certain artists.

Looking back on 2017, Strøm went on to say that while collections and distributions were up, a large number of Tono's members were still "finding the digital economy to be challenging" with many "seeing a decrease in income from recorded music compared with the CD era."

Echoing the views of many in the recorded music industry, he said that more must be done to tackle the value gap and called for "vigorous political action from the EU, and national legislators to establish accountability to creators on the part of Facebook and YouTube."