Over half a billion pounds in royalties paid out in record financial performance in 2016

Over half a billion pounds in royalties paid out to music creators as PRS celebrates record financial performance in 2016

  • Milestone reached as £527.6m is paid out in royalties to songwriters, composers and music publishers
  • Revenues up 10.1% year-on-year to £621.5m
  • 33% more music creators receive royalties
  • Royalties paid out on a record 4.2 million works
  • 4.3 trillion performances of music reported worldwide – a data volume increase of 80%

PRS (Performing Right Society), the organisation that represents the rights of over 125,500 music creators in the UK and two million worldwide, achieved record financial results in 2016. Royalties paid out to its members (songwriters, composers and music publishers) for the public use of their musical works exceeded half a billion pounds for the first time in UK music history, reaching an all-time high of £527.6m, up 11.1% (£52.5m) year-on-year.

PRS delivered more money to more music creators than ever before; 33% more members received a payment compared to 2015, while the number of unique musical works and songs earning money also rose by 45% to 4.2 million.

In turn, revenues collected by PRS saw an increase of 10.1% (£57.2m) in 2016 to £621.5m.

Of the music licensing company’s four main revenue streams, international income generated from members’ music played abroad saw significant growth, with £233.7m received from equivalent societies overseas. This represents an increase of 5% (£11.2m) year-on-year. Revenue from music played via online platforms saw the largest uplift at 89.9% (£38.1m) to £80.5m, while public performance income grew 4.6% to £183.2m and broadcast revenues were stable (see overview below for further information).

In 2016, over 4.3 trillion uses of music were reported to the organisation from across the globe. This figure was only 126 billion in 2012; the astonishing increase shows the remarkable growth in streaming and success and popularity of PRS members’ repertoire internationally.

Previous investments in new technology have enabled PRS to meet the demands of the digital era and continuing growth of the online market. Improvements in the organisation’s processing capabilities, handling vast volumes of data, have in turn enabled faster and more efficient payments of online royalties. Collaborative ventures such as ICE, PRS’ pan-European partnership with affiliate societies GEMA (Germany) and STIM (Sweden), also helped to drive online revenue from digital platforms.


2016 was another landmark year as we achieved record revenues and delivered, for the first time, member distributions in excess of half a billion pounds. We paid out more money, to more members, across more works and against significantly increased data volumes, than ever before. This has been made possible through our long term strategy of investing in technology, data, joint ventures and other strategic partnerships.

Despite the growth in revenues, there remain some very real challenges in the online market and we welcome the European Commission's proposed clarification of copyright law to ensure the value of creators’ work is better protected online. These are critical to the development of a healthy and sustainable online market for music. We hope the European Parliament and Council, including own our government, support its recommendations.

Robert Ashcroft, CEO, PRS for Music

Overview - PRS 2016 Financial Performance

  • International: Up 5% to £233.7m, driven by a significant number of major live concerts taking place in Europe and continuing success of PRS writers. This continues the strong upward trend in international revenues established over the last 10 years and reflects PRS’ long term investment in the people, data and systems the organisation employs to manage its international revenues proactively around the world.
  • Online: Up 89.9% to £80.5m, driven by improved multinational licensing, new mandates with digital platforms and the growth of streaming services.
  • Public Performance: Up 4.6% YoY to £183.2m, reflecting PRS’ strategy of communicating the value of music to businesses, higher live music event ticket prices and an increase in concerts and festivals.
  • Broadcast: Down 0.1% to £124.1m, due to flat or decreasing viewership figures across the top five television broadcasters. Royalties from commercial radio reached their highest value since 2008. PRS received £7.2m of broadcast revenue in 2016 as a result of its successful defence of a Copyright Tribunal reference brought by ITV. However, it was unable to recognise this revenue pending a subsequent appeal by ITV. The appeal, which was decided earlier this year, was unsuccessful and this revenue will be reported within the 2017 results.

The 2016 PRS financial results will be presented at the Annual General Meeting at the British Library Conference Centre on 24 May 2017.

See further breakdown of the PRS 2016 financial results

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