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.

Sir Paul McCartney, Ray Davies, Laura Mvula, David Arnold, Howard Goodall, Gary Kemp, Howard Kretzmer, David Lowe, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, Brian May, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lily Allen at Clarence house


PRS for Music sign licensing deal for Apple music.

PRS for Music launches Streamfair - The campaign aims to raise awareness about the critical need for legislative reform to ensure music creators are properly remunerated in the growing streaming music market.

PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA establish world's first integrated licensing and processing hub - The hub will offer state-of-the art licensing and processing services to support rightsholders and multi-territory digital music companies.

PRS for Music announces signing of new two year multi-territory deal with Spotify for Europe.

PRS PPL logo

PRS for Music welcomes the implementation of the CRM Directive - In welcoming the new UK Regulations, PRS believes the CRM Directive will improve the way collective management organisations operate across the EU, which will be in the best interests of rightholders and users.

PRS reports record figures for 2015 with continued revenue growth for members - PRS revenue up 7% to £537.4m on a constant currency basis 8.4% increase in distributions means £35.6m more money flowing through to members Growth across all revenue streams.

Nigel Elderton, new Chairman of PRS
Guy Fletcher, former Chairman of PRS 

PPL and PRS for Music introduce new joint community radio licence.

PRS for Music celebrates digital success as it released its distribution data figures for 2016, a year that saw the company process over four trillion uses of music.

PPL and PRS for Music have piloted a first-of-its-kind initiative to link each other’s data sets, jointly creating a prototype search tool to improve identification of sound recordings and musical works and the links between them.

PPL and PRS for Music appoint Suzanne Smith Managing Director of joint licensing venture.

PPL and PRS for Music launch Music Recognition Technology pilot - Designed to evaluate the use of Music Recognition Technology (MRT) in identifying music publicly performed by DJs in clubs, bars, pubs and hotels licensed by PPL and PRS.


New music venture increases local workforce for 2018 - PPL PRS Ltd expanded its Leicester workforce this month, when 60 new employees joined its ranks.

PPL and PRS for Music joint venture officially launches.

PRS for Music announces four senior appointments - Sami Valkonen, Claire Jarvis and Barney Hooper appointed Director of International, Director of Membership and Director of Communications and Marketing while Rachael Naylor promoted to Director of Distributions and Operations.

Sami Valkonen, Director of International
Claire Jarvis, Director of Membership
Barney Hooper, Director of Communications and Marketing
rachael naylor prs for music
Rachael Naylor, Director of Distributions and Operations

PRS for Music secures new blanket licence with BBC.

Robert Ashcroft to step down as Chief Executive of PRS for Music in 2019 - Chief Executive to step down on the tenth anniversary of his appointment, at the end of December 2019.

prs ceo
Robert Ashcroft, former Chief Executive of PRS for Music 
Andrea C. Martin
Andrea Czapary Martin, Chief Executive of PRS for Music

PRS for Music launches revamped Major Live Concert Service.

PRS for Music launches royalty dashboard for music creators - Giving members access to comprehensive analytics, data and insights into how their music is performing through a new dashboard.

Roger James and Mark Krajewski join PRS for Music - Two new members joins the Executive Leadership Team. Roger James joins as Chief Commercial Officer and General Counsel and Mark Krajewski takes up the role as Chief Information Officer.

Roger James
Roger James, Chief Commercial Officer and General Counsel
Mark Krajewski Chief Information Officer
Nigel Elderton, Chairman of PRS for Music
Suzanne Hughes, Chief People and Transformation Officer, PRS for Music
Suzanne Hughes, Chief People and Transformation Officer of PRS for Music
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