Julian Nott / Michelle Escoffery

'Your voice is important’: Julian Nott and Michelle Escoffery on proposed PRS Members’ Council expansion

The new resolution will go to a vote during PRS for Music’s AGM in June.

Sam Moore
  • By Sam Harteam Moore
  • 26 Mar 2024
  • min read

PRS for Music’s 2024 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place on 4 June at IET London: Savoy Place as part of Members’ Day London. As ever, members will be able to hear about how PRS is performing, take part in Q&A sessions with our Executive Leadership Team, Members’ Council Chair and President, and vote on proposed resolutions.

One of the changes that will be voted on during the 2024 AGM is an expansion of the Members’ Council to 25 members, increasing the number of writer and publisher Council Member seats to 10 each. The resolution, which will be put to PRS’s Principal Voting and Voting members at the AGM, is being proposed with a view of maintaining the representation of the PRS membership on the Council and allowing for effective governance.

A conditional Ballot will be held for the two writer and two publisher vacancies on the Members’ Council and, if approved by members, the successful candidates will be appointed to the Council during the AGM. The Ballot has opened today (26 March), and you can learn more about our candidates here.

M spoke to PRS Members’ Council Chair Julian Nott and PRS Members' Council President Michelle Escoffery about the importance of the Members’ Council, why they’re in favour of the proposed resolution and what it will mean for the PRS membership.

How do you assess the role and importance of the PRS Members’ Council?

Julian: 'It’s vital that PRS listens to its membership — both writers and publishers — doesn't make policies in a vacuum and appreciates that it's there to serve the interests of its members. The PRS Members' Council is the forum by which the membership can express its views to PRS management and is extremely important in allowing PRS management to understand what the membership wants, needs and aspires to.'

Michelle: ‘The Members’ Council is a voice for the membership, so it is vital. As PRS members, we all understand the importance of protecting the value and rights of our work. It is our job to challenge ways of thinking, governance and codes of conduct to ensure best practice, innovation and progress as we move forward.’

How does the Members’ Council reflect the diversity of the PRS membership in terms of representing music creators and publishers from different backgrounds and genres?

M: ‘It is improving. The PRS membership is vast, dynamic and exciting: members come from broad backgrounds and communities across the world, with new genres being created what seems like every other day. We are working to find impactful ways to be more inclusive and celebrate the innovative creative practices our members live daily.’

J: 'There's always a balance between having an effective board and having as many representatives of the membership as possible. If the Members’ Council is too large, it can't engage in a proper dialogue, discussion or debate in the boardroom with PRS management. But, on the other hand, we want as many representatives of the different genres of the membership as we can have in that room. It's tricky to get that balance completely right. Ideally, we would have a representative of every age group, every genre and even every part of our society in there, but then the group would get too big. We’ve decided to go for a Members' Council which features 10 writers and 10 publishers from 2024, which seems, from experience, to be about the right number to get efficiency of discussion and maximise the representation of difference groups of the membership.'

Why is the proposed expansion of the Members’ Council an important change to make, and why do you support this measure being adopted?

J: 'We had a governance review a few years ago, and it was decided at that point that the Members' Council shouldn't be too large because it would hinder the efficiency of the workings of the Council. You couldn’t have proper, robust debate because there'd be too many people in the room wanting to say something. So the governance review then decided the Members' Council should go down to eight publishers and eight writers. But as we've reflected in the last few years, we've concluded that, actually, that's too small and we should go back to the 10 writers and 10 publishers to maximise our representation of the different genres in the Council.'

M: ‘With every process, there needs to be an opportunity for conscious evaluation. Upon reflection, after implementing the governance review that members agreed in 2021 we recognised the importance of having as many voices at the table, seeing things from different vantage points. Within this analysis we consider all factors, including education, geography, social mobility, neuroexpansiveness, inclusion and empowerment. It’s important to represent as many voices as we can to reflect the whole membership. I support this recommendation and see the value in inclusion, but am also acutely aware of the crucial role members play in using their vote to choose who they want to represent them around the table.’

How will this proposed change affect the writers and publishers among the PRS membership?

M: ‘The expansion of the Council will give more of a voice to members, representing them in matters that directly affect them.’

J: 'The proposed change is quite marginal: we're talking about having 10 writers and 10 publishers as opposed to eight writers and eight publishers. Nevertheless, it allows us to help broaden the representation of the different genres.

Why would you encourage voting members to vote in favour of this resolution?

M: ‘To amplify your voice on the Members’ Council and influence all the decisions that are made exclusively on your behalf.’

J: 'I don't see why anybody would really oppose this resolution. It can only be a good thing, I think, to increase the chances of a more complete, broader representation of all the different types of members and genres. It's quite amazing how much diversity there is in our membership. There's old codgers like myself, the media composers that were around writing in the ‘80s, and then there's people in their late teens writing very different music who are earning royalties. There’s a huge diversity in our membership, so the more we can represent all those different people, the better.'

M: ‘I would strongly encourage every voting member to vote. Your voice is important and can affect your career, the strong protection of your rights and earning capacity more than you know. Something different can only happen when we choose to do something differently and take action. All change starts with a thought, but is manifested through positive action. Take action and be a participant in the progress of this organisation and investment into your paid and protected future.’