An end of year message from Andrea Czapary Martin
PRS for Music’s CEO reflects on your society’s key achievements from 2021 and looks ahead to new opportunities in 2022.
In recent months there has been a cautious sense of optimism in the air, with many of us starting to meet in person again and of course enjoying live music together. However, as 2021 draws to a close, we once again face the threat of a new variant and concerns we may be subject to further limitations on how we go about our lives.
This uncertainty shouldn’t prevent us from celebrating our collective successes, along with the innovation, creativity and resolve that has flourished and sustained us in these difficult times.
As I reflect on the last 12 months, I am immensely proud of what the PRS for Music team has accomplished, and often under unfamiliar and challenging circumstances.
At the beginning of this year, we predicted that the impact of the global pandemic and lockdowns would result in royalty payments falling by at least 10 percent compared to 2019. This meant that our focus on maximising members’ income, getting money paid as quickly and accurately as possible, has never been more important. Next week we will make the first of two distributions in December, and I am proud to say that, because of our focus and determination, the amount of royalties paid out will be higher than this time last year.
This month’s royalty payments will also be the first via our new distribution platform Oracle+. To meet the challenges of Big Data, which in PRS terms means way over twenty trillion data lines, I have been clear that we must have state of the art tools capable of processing more quickly and efficiently than ever before. Oracle+ is such a system, a world leading flexible and scalable Cloud based service. This is a major achievement for PRS for Music, which alongside the completion of our new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to ensure we can provide a first-class service for members, I believe lays the strongest foundations for our future.
In November, we announced the signing of a new agreement with MCPS, strengthening the longstanding relationship between the two organisations. The deal allows MCPS and PRS to continue the joint licensing of members’ mechanical and performing rights, which simplifies the process of obtaining a licence for customers and provides better licensing terms, efficiencies and cost savings for rightsholders. I look forward to working with MCPS in the coming months and years to deliver greater value for our respective memberships.
Any review of this year must of course reflect on the industry wide debate on streaming. I was reassured to see throughout the DCMS Committee’s work a recognition of the importance of songwriters and composers, as well as a commitment to ensure the value of members’ works is much better reflected in the royalties they receive. If this year has been dominated by promoting an understanding of the issues and challenges, then the next must be about identifying and, importantly, agreeing the solutions. PRS for Music will certainly play its part, working with the government and those across the industry to grow the value of the streaming market and members’ royalties.
2021 has also seen the opening of our new home in London Bridge. The pandemic has changed the way we work, accelerating the use of online services and giving us all greater flexibility in our working lives. The new Hub reflects this new working environment, promoting creativity and collaboration across the PRS Team, while using technologies to allow them to seamlessly work together. Next year, we will conclude our property strategy as we leave our offices in Streatham and complete the buildout of the Hub, which in turn will realise a million pounds a year in savings for members.
This year we welcomed a new Chief Commercial Officer, Dan Gopal, who, with over 20 years’ experience in the media and entertainment industry, has already had an impact on our licensing activities, including finalising new long-term deals with the BBC and Sky. We have also created new roles to drive forward our diversity and inclusion agenda, delivering on the UK Music Ten-Point Plan and embedding our values across the organisation.
This has been the first full year for Michelle Escoffery in her newly created role as President of the PRS Members’ Council. Michelle has been engaging with members to understand how PRS for Music can better support them wherever they are in their careers, identifying a number of new initiatives, such as greater access to networking and mentoring opportunities, and you will see these reflected in our 2022 activities.
At this year’s AGM I set our new ambitious vision for your society. At its heart is our commitment to protect and maximise the value of the rights that you entrust to us. Our aim is to become a billion-pound society, not in revenues but in royalties paid out; to innovate across our business and joint ventures while reducing our cost-to-income to below 10%.
In 2022, my focus will be realising our renewed objectives, building on the strong foundation laid in the last two years. Delivering our data strategy, ensuring that PRS for Music remains at the forefront of solutions to Big Data, which in turn brings quicker and more accurate royalty payments, providing new and innovative licensing solutions which can adapt quickly to meet the rapidly changing needs of licensees, while maximising the benefits of our new CRM tools to provide even greater support to new and existing members, allowing them to better reap the rewards of their creativity.
Our ambitions are high, as I believe they must be.
Finally, I would like to thank the PRS for Music Team, the Members’ Council, the Board and the two Chairs for their tireless endeavours. Their support and commitment are invaluable to me. Thanks also to our customers, many of whom have faced another year in the most challenging circumstances. And, of course, our thanks to all PRS members, it is your hard work, diligence and creativity which underpins PRS for Music and the entire music ecosystem.
From all of us, I would like to wish you a Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year.