Historic governance changes approved at PRS AGM 2020
First proposed major governance changes for PRS in 20 years approved by members at the virtual PRS Annual General Meeting
In a landmark moment for the Performing Right Society (PRS), the most significant governance changes for the organisation in 20 years were approved by members at the PRS 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday 18 August.
With over 1,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members engaged either on the day, or through the voting process, this year’s AGM set a record for the highest participation in PRS AGM history. Held virtually due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it was also the first AGM to be led by Andrea C. Martin since joining the organisation as CEO in 2019, a year that saw record results achieved.
The product of an extensive review by independent experts based on best practice in company governance, the newly approved governance changes include:
- PRS Board becoming a smaller ‘Members' Council’ with fewer Directors and focused on member engagement
- Appointment of a new Writer President
- A new electoral college system for Director appointments
- Maximum terms of service for Board Directors
- Streamlined decision-making through refocused committee reporting structures to give greater time to focus on strategic issues
The PRS for Music Executive Board, will become simply, the Board, with a renewed focus on strategic delivery and commercial operation, empowering PRS’ Executive Leadership Team to manage the business with full accountability to the Board.
Early on, I recognised that to create a new PRS, a new governance structure would be required. Change is never an easy thing to embrace but standing still in a world of now 19 trillion performances, and growing, across multi-territories and with fragmented rights is not an option. The new governance will make PRS more flexible, more fleet-of-foot in our decision-making process and more cost-effective. On behalf of everyone at PRS, we are excited by the challenges ahead and motivated by change.
I am incredibly pleased to see that our proposed governance changes have been approved. These historic changes will allow us to deliver more engagement, efficiency and transparency for our members. Furthermore, we anticipate the approved changes will lead to more opportunities for members to join the Board and by association we hope for greater diversity on the Board in the future.
It is hoped that a key outcome of the new governance structure is better engagement for candidacy which will lead to improved diversity on the Board.
Any reflection on the year to date must include Black Lives Matter, and the long overdue global debate about social inequality and injustice.
I am completely committed to positive change within PRS and the whole music industry, but first and foremost we must educate ourselves. Personally, I know I have learned a lot in the last few weeks in my discussions with employees. We will accelerate measures to ensure diversity of our membership is reflected in the make-up of the management and Board. We have already started to take action.
In her first keynote speech as PRS for Music CEO, Andrea C. Martin spoke of company-wide initiatives created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic including the PRS Emergency Relief Fund and PRS Presents LCKDWN, a re-invigorated corporate culture and greater focus around key strategic goals, the positive progress of joint ventures PPL PRS and ICE, PRS for Music’s place within the UK music landscape and the crucial need of the new governance structure, and continued evolution to better support its members.
Further speeches were delivered by Chairman Nigel Elderton, who set out the importance of new governance, the difficulties of the last six months and how the wider music industry can recover. Chief Financial Officer, Steve Powell, provided a financial overview of PRS for Music’s record 2019, in revenues and distributions, alongside the estimated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PRS AGM was opened by legendary songwriter, PRS for Music member and recently appointed President of CISAC, Björn Ulvaeus, with a special keynote speech.
The timing is perfect for PRS to take the decision to become more efficient, flexible and quicker on its feet, which I'm certain the new governance plan will achieve. Congratulations Andrea and the people you've worked with for doing a great job.
About PRS for Music
PRS for Music represents the rights of over 155,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers in the UK and around the world. On behalf of its members, it works to grow and protect the value of their rights and ensure that creators are paid transparently and efficiently whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. In 2020, 22.4 trillion performances of music were reported to PRS for Music, with £699m paid out in royalties to its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.
PRS for Music’s public performance licensing is now carried out on PRS for Music’s behalf by PPL PRS Ltd, the joint venture between PPL and PRS for Music.