The Performing Right Society, later PRS for Music, was founded in 1914 by a group of music publishers, including William Boosey and Oliver Hawkes, to protect the value of copyright and help provide an income for composers, songwriters and music publishers.

Make sure you take a couple of minutes to watch our video with some exclusive archive footage and photographs of some of our most inspirational members from 1914 to 2014.

100 Years of PRS logo

Prior to PRS

In 1910 the Mechanical Copyright Licences Company (Mecolico) forms in anticipation of the 1911 Copyright Act. Mecolico plans to license the mechanical rights within musicial works. On 1 July 1912 the Copyright Act passes, bringing provisions to protect musical works for the first time.   

1914 - 1923

1914 - The Performing Right Society (PRS) forms to administer the non-dramatic performing and broadcasting rights of musical works across the UK, Eire and British Empire. Operatic composer and soprana Liza Lehmann becomes the first official member of PRS.

1923 - PRS issues its first licence to the BBC.

1924 - 1933

1924 - Mecolico and the Copyright Protection Society (CPS) merge to form the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS).

1925 - PRS establishes its first agency in South Africa.

1934 - 1943

1934 - PRS establishes the Members Benevolent Fund.

1937 - The BBC's licence from PRS includes television for the first time. 

1939 - PRS opens a wartime emergency office in Church Hill House near Woking.

1944 - 1953

1944 - The Composers Guild forms to represent the interests of classical and filmscore composers.

1947 - PRS receives its Coat of Arms.

1954 - 1963

1956 - The Copyright Act is adopted by parliament.

1960 - PRS moves to its new headquarters at Berners Street, London, W1.

1964 - 1973

1964 - Ray Davies, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards join PRS.

1966 - PRS installs its first computer.

1967 - David Bowie and Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees join PRS.

1968 - Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber join PRS.

1969 - Eric Clapton joins PRS.

1970 - Elton John, Phil Collins and Yoko Ono join PRS.

1971 - PRS receives The Queen's Award for Industry for 'outstanding achievement in exporting goods or services'.

1973 - The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) forms to represent the interests of UK record companies.

1974 - 1983

1974 - PRS sponsors The Ivors for the first time.

1984 - 1993

1984 - PRS establishes its first regional office in Edinburgh.

1988 - New Copyright, Designs and Patents Act adopted.

1989 - The Irish Musical Rights Organisation (IMRO) forms as a subsidiary of PRS.

1992 - Margaret Thatcher visits MCPS offices.

1994 - 2003

1995 - IMRO becomes an independent collecting society.

1996 - PRS and MCPS begin discussing the possibility of a joint alliance.

1998 - MCPS and PRS complete their operational alliance agreement under one management team - The MCPS-PRS Alliance.

2000 - PRS launches The Performing Right Society Foundation for New Music, a charity to help emerging talent enter the music industry.

2002 - The MCPS-PRS Alliance develops the joint online licence - the first dual licensing system for mechanical and performing rights aimed at encouraging the growth of legitimate online music services.

2002 - The MCPS-PRS Alliance hosts the 43rd CISAC World Congress in London.

2004 - 2013

2004 - MCPS and PRS become the first collecting societies to distribute iTunes royalties to their members.

2007 - The MCPS-PRS Alliance becomes one of the first collecting societies outside the US to license YouTube.

2009 - The MCPS-PRS Alliance adopts the PRS for Music brand.

2009 - PRS for Music signs 12 pan-European licensing deals with some of the largest online and mobile providers including Amazon, Apple iTunes, Napster, Nokia and Spotify. 

2010 - Robert Ashcroft becomes chief executive of PRS for Music.

2010 - PRS for Music issues its first licence to a cloud music service.

2011 - PRS for Music provides input into the Hargreaves review of Intellectual Property and Growth.

2013 - PRS for Music reaches a landmark when Nicholas Noble from band The Gentlemen becomes the society's 100,000th member.

2013 - PRS for Music launches electronic music initiative Amplify to help ensure dance music creators receive royalties when their work is played.

2013 - PRS for Music announces plans to move from Berners Street offices to Kings Cross and Streatham.

2014 - PRS for Music celebrates its 100th birthday.

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