Speech of Robert Ashcroft

Speech of Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive PRS for Music

Thank you Guy, and good afternoon.

First of all, thank you all for coming to this year’s AGM – it’s good to see such a strong turnout. The management, staff and directors of the Performing Right Society all appreciate the time you take to be with us and for giving me the opportunity to bring you up to date on how we are “maximising your income, minimising costs and protecting your rights”, as our new chairman so eloquently put it.

And, on that note, I’d like to congratulate Guy Fletcher OBE on his appointment by the Board of Directors to the chairmanship of PRS. Distinguished songwriter, performer, publisher, founder member of British Music Rights, former chair of BASCA … Guy is a giant of the music industry and we are delighted to have him as chairman of the Performing Right Society.

Today I'm going to give you an update on our financial performance, describe some of the major developments affecting the business and tell you about some improvements we are making, particularly in the service we provide to members.

One of these developments is the Hargreaves Report, which will lead me into two of our key focus areas: licensing music on the Internet and achieving greater operating efficiency through partnerships. Then, given its importance as a potential source of future revenue growth, I'll touch on our third area of focus, which is International.

2010 was a tough year for the music industry, though it had begun strongly enough, with recorded media holding up well, at least partly due to Susan Boyle’s remarkable success with her album “I Dreamed a Dream”. The underlying trend though was down; there were fewer live tours scheduled and businesses across the country faced uncertain trading conditions. Added to this, we had a change of government, whose promised expenditure cuts inevitably had a negative impact on consumer spending.

We were nonetheless able, thanks to the hard work and dedication of all our staff - in Berners Street, in Streatham, at our customer contact centre in Peterborough and on location across the UK - to hold the decline in royalty collections to only 1% of 2009’s record, with a total of £611.2m. This is the figure you will see in the 2010 Financial Review brochure you received on your way in and represents the combined results of PRS and MCPS.

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