LONDON – Strong growth in streaming royalties coupled with the reopening of British shops, bars and restaurants following the end of lockdown restrictions, helped revenues at U.K. collecting society PRS for Music bounce back to £777 million ($990 million) in 2021 – a rise of 22% on the previous year’s total.
The London-based organization, which represents the rights of over 160,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers, paid out £677 million ($862 million) to members in 2021, year-end figures published Monday reveal. That total is down 3.2% on 2020’s distribution, much of which came from royalties collected pre-pandemic.
In 2019, PRS for Music posted record revenues of £811 million (just over $1 billion at current exchange rates). Although its latest financial results are around £34 million ($43 million) below that level, PRS for Music CEO Andrea Czapary Martin called 2021 “a successful year” given the exceptional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and still recovering music market.
“For all businesses, these have been unprecedented and challenging times,” said Czapary Martin in a statement. “However, I believe we grasped that opportunity, and the entire organization has embraced the chance to adapt and innovate.”
Driving the growth in PRS for Music’s collections was a 42% increase in royalties from music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube, which totaled £225 million ($287 million), an increase of £67 million ($85 million) on a constant currency basis.
Last year also saw PRS for Music renew major license deals with film and television streaming platforms Apple TV and Netflix, as well as secure a new agreement with Disney+. Those deals saw revenues from video-on-demand platforms rise by 50% year-on-year to £34 million ($43 million).
Total online royalties, encompassing music streaming collections as well as royalties generated by film and television streaming services, was up 46% to £268 million ($341 million). PRS for Music said its members accounted for over half of 2021’s most streamed songs in the U.K., including Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits,” which spent 11 weeks at number one.
Public performance receipts generated from the use of PRS members’ music at U.K. festivals and concerts, as well as plays in British shops, bars, cinemas, restaurants, offices and nightclubs, climbed back to £138 million ($176 million), after falling to just £86 million ($109 million) in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.
Despite the almost 60% year-on-year rise in public performance royalties, revenues still remain 38% lower than 2019’s total of £222 million ($282 million). The shortfall can be largely attributed to the U.K. being under lockdown restrictions for over five months of the year.
The lifting of restrictions in late summer saw a number of U.K. festivals take place, including Creamfields and Reading and Leeds festivals, but the majority of live events and tours were cancelled due to the spread of new coronavirus variants and only resumed in earnest at the start of this year. As a result, PRS collections from live music concerts totaled just £8 million ($10 million) in 2021 – a 29% fall on the previous year and a massive 85% drop on 2019’s total.
International receipts collected through reciprocal agreements with other societies dipped by 2.5% in real terms to £242 million ($308 million). PRS for Music said Asia Pacific and Latin America were the most heavily impacted overseas territories, primarily due to stringent COVID-19 restrictions, such as the wholesale ban on music played publicly in Singapore.
A recovery in radio advertising helped broadcast revenues grow 1.5% to £129 million ($164 million) with PRS securing new long-term music licensing agreements with Sky and the BBC last year.
The organization said it processed 27 trillion performances of music in 2021 – a 20% rise on the previous 12 months and an increase of more than 500% across the last five years.