UK songwriters and composers generate a record £746m in music royalties

Over 11 trillion uses of music processed from streaming services, live performance, television, radio broadcast and business use

Ed Sheeran on stage with a guitar on his chest and both arm in the air

PRS for Music, the music licensing company that represents the rights of over 140,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and two million worldwide, collected a record £746m on behalf of its members in 2018. This represents a year-on-year increase of 4.4%, or £31.6m*, and after costs and other income, results in net distributable revenue of £648.4m. 

International royalty income continues to be the largest revenue stream for PRS for Music members, underlining the enduring popularity of British music. A total of £280.6m was collected through agreements with collecting societies around the world, an increase of 9.1% (£23.4m) on 2017*, and a 43% growth rate over the last three years. Global chart successes and major live world tours from PRS members including Ed Sheeran, Roger Waters, U2 and The Rolling Stones, contributed to this growth.  

Music fans continue to switch to streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, with UK songwriters and composers providing many of the biggest hits on these platforms. Royalty income from digital services climbed 17% (£21.2m) to £145.7m*. 

PRS has been at the forefront of licensing new services through its joint venture, ICE: in 2018 Mixcloud, Facebook and Instagram were licensed for the first time, providing additional digital revenue for our members. 


It is testament to the creative talent of our 140,000 members that royalty revenues from their music have continued to grow, and I am proud we collected almost three quarters of a billion pounds on their behalf. Royalties from international and digital continue to underpin our growth, areas in which we have invested systematically over the past ten years. The way in which we all consume music has changed dramatically over this period, switching from ownership to access, but the popularity of UK music endures; long may it continue.

Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive of PRS for Music

Income from broadcasters including the BBC, Sky and Global Radio, totalled £127.7m, down 5.1% on 2017. The decrease was a combination of a reduction in linear TV viewing and the effect of a large one-off payment from ITV in 2017.  

Royalty income from general business usage was also slightly down on 2017 at £192m. A challenging situation on the UK high street and delays in the establishment of a new licensing business with PPL contributed to the figures. The live sector experienced 12.8% growth, climbing to £38.9m in 2018 as the industry continues to grow, with UK music fans increasingly seeking the live experience.  

PRS for Music – both in-house and through its joint venture partners processed 11.2 trillion music performances across multiple channels in 2018. This is a 70% increase on 2017, with further, dramatic growth predicted in the future. The business has invested heavily to keep pace with changing music consumption and the increase in digital streaming services. Developing industry leading music consumption intelligence and insight is allowing the organisation to provide a better and more tailored service to its songwriter, composer and publisher members.


Owned by and working on behalf of its members, PRS for Music enables UK music creators to keep creating. We provide industry leading solutions to the management of music copyright and lead the fight for fair remuneration for creators in an increasingly tech-dominated world. Our most recent success in this regard was to initiate the debate over the ‘Transfer of Value’, which resulted, after a four-year, industry-wide campaign, in the passage of the European Copyright Directive. This is the most significant change in copyright law in nearly twenty years and clarifies the liability of key technology platforms to pay for their use of copyright material.

Robert Ashcroft

In 2018 a total of £603.6m was distributed to songwriter, composer and music publisher members, a decrease of 0.2% on 2017. This slight reduction was caused by processing delays at our joint venture partners, but still represents the second largest distribution in PRS for Music’s history.

*Figures on a constant currency basis

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music is a world-leading music collective management organisation representing the rights of more than 165,000 talented songwriters, composers and music publishers around the globe. Headquartered in the UK, it works diligently on behalf of its members to grow and protect the value of their rights. With a focus on innovation and integrity, PRS for Music is redefining the global standard for music royalties to ensure creators are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. In 2022, PRS for Music collected £964m and paid out £836.2m in royalties.

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