Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Pay to play

Yet more unwelcome news for musicians at a time when they can least take it: thanks to PRS (in their infinite wisdom), ticketed live-streamed events are to be subject to a tariff. This will not only harm artists trying desperately to make a living during lockdown while also doing their bit to alleviate our tedium, but also the venues at which such gigs are being staged and their employees, and the charities that have been benefitting from money donated by viewers.

The move was first mooted back in the autumn and swiftly met with indignation from the industry, but it seems that PRS took no notice and decided to plough on regardless. Today's press release declaring that the fixed tariff is now a reality has been received with renewed anger - and no little bewilderment.

The Music Venue Trust, for instance, are clearly baffled (and furious) that the tariff was never mentioned during the course of their regular conversations with PRS and have called for an "informed discussion": "Unilaterally announcing ill-conceived new tariffs in a crisis is not such a discussion." 

And they're not the only ones fuming about the lack of consultation. The organisers of Independent Venue Week have issued their own strongly worded response, declaring themselves to be "shocked and appalled" at PRS' introduction of "onerous new licences". They point out that "the live music community is an ecosystem that requires everyone to thrive in order to survive" and have called for "immediate action" to reverse the decision.

It remains to be seen whether PRS will accept they've made a major blunder and do the right thing, or whether they're content to continue kicking good men and women while they're down.

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