PRS for Music's centenary set to celebrate 100 years of music

To celebrate the impact songwriting has made around the world, PRS for Music is unveiling a series of centenary-themed events across the UK.

From Benjamin Britten to Sir Paul McCartney, Queen to Emeli Sandé, PRS for Music members are some of the most influential and popular songwriters of all time. One hundred years ago today, against the backdrop of the First World War, PRS for Music was formed with one member: operatic soprano sensation, Liza Lehmann. A century later, it boasts over 100,000 members in the UK, represents two million worldwide and contributes to a music industry worth £3.8 billion to the UK economy.

To celebrate the impact songwriting has made around the world, PRS for Music is unveiling a series of centenary-themed events across the UK.  The celebrations get underway today with the launch of the 100 Years of Music photography exhibition at Getty Images Gallery, London. 

Songwriters and composers who have shaped the musical landscape of the last hundred years feature in the exhibition alongside rising stars in the PRS for Music fold. Including images taken by acclaimed photographer, Lucy Sewill, the exhibition spans every decade and musical genre and features stars as diverse as much loved British composer, Sir John Tavener, Ivor Novello winner, Joan Armatrading MBE, Live Aid founders, Bob Geldof KBE and Midge Ure OBE, James Bond film composer, David Arnold, The Kinks’ front man, Ray Davies CBE and chart-topping hip hop artist, Dizzee Rascal.

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Our members are at the heart of everything we do, so it’s fitting that they take centre stage of our centenary celebrations. Our members provide the soundtrack to your life. We are so proud of what has been written, performed and accomplished in the last 100 years and our exhibition at Getty Images Gallery is a great way to kick start the year’s celebrations.  It sets the benchmark for another century of brilliant creative talent.

Guy Fletcher OBE, PRS Chair
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PRS for Music is at the heart of the UK’s creative industry and is the lifeblood of both grassroots musicians and those loved on the global stage. The UK has a proud tradition of creating wonderful music that is enjoyed the world over and PRS for Music has been supporting the creators of that music since 1914. While the world of music has changed enormously in the last century - from sheet music to streaming - one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment to ensuring songwriters and composers are recognised and remunerated fairly for their work.

Robert Ashcroft, PRS for Music Chief Executive

The 100 Years of Music exhibition includes a preview of photographs which are set to feature in a prestigious art book curated by PRS Chair and songwriter, Guy Fletcher OBE, and edited by the revered music journalist, Chris Welch. Any proceeds from the book, available for sale in June, will go to the PRS Benevolent Fund that helps members suffering hardship due to illness, accident or disability.

A series of centenary events are taking place around the UK throughout the year to celebrate songwriting which include a piece of work to be performed by the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo in the summer and the 100 Years of Music show at the Royal Albert Hall in November.

PRS for Music highlights from the last 100 years

Spurred on by the 1911 Copyright Act, PRS for Music (formerly The Performing Right Society) was founded by renowned music publishers, William Boosey and Oliver Hawkes. The duo later became one of the world’s largest classical music publishers representing the rights of works by Bartók, Leonard Bernstein, Britten, Copland, Kodály, Mahler, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Richard Strauss and Stravinsky.

The first royalty cheque was paid to English composer, Eric Coates, for the princely sum of £50. The main source of royalty revenues for PRS for Music members in the early 20th century came from sheet music used during the silent film boom years before the birth of TV. Other activities that were licensed included live bands, music halls, touring circuses, restaurants that hosted tea dances and bandstands in local parks dotted around the UK.

The organisation is now one of only three net exporters of music, working in 150 territories worldwide, collecting £641.8 million in music royalties throughout 2012. PRS for Music licenses thousands of businesses in the UK to use music including the likes of festivals, pubs and restaurants, the BBC and online music streaming services such as Spotify.

Exhibition details

Dates:   Friday, 7 March to Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Opening times:

Thursday, 6 March: 2pm – 5.30pm
Friday, 7 March:   10am – 3pm 
Saturday, 8 March:  12noon – 5.30pm 
Sunday, 9 March:  Closed
Monday, 10 March:  10am – 3pm 
Tuesday, 11 March:  10am – 3pm
Wed, 12 March:  6.30pm - 9pm Live music showcase in the gallery, featuring Shlomo + Pandr Eyez 

Address:   Getty Images Gallery, 46 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8DX

Nearest tube:  Oxford Circus

Admission:  Free

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world. As a membership organisation the company ensures creators are paid whenever their music and songs are played, performed, broadcast or reproduced in public and provides business and community groups with access to 22.2 million songs through its music licences. With over 100 representation agreements in place globally, PRS for Music's network represents over two million music creators.

In 2016, the organisation collected over half a billion pounds (£621.5m) on behalf of its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.