PRS AGM 2023 Andrea Czapary Martin speech

PRS AGM 2023

Andrea Czapary and Tower bridge in the background
Above Andrea Czapary Martin, CEO, PRS for Music

Good afternoon and welcome to our 2023 London Members’ Day and Annual General Meeting. 

We will be discussing how the metaverse could change the way we use and create music. And I am looking forward to hearing from Elena Segal, as she shares her experience of more than 20 years working in the industry. 

I would like to begin, by setting out the progress PRS for Music has made in 2022. We collected more royalties than ever before, £964m to be precise, and we paid out more than ever – £836m. Delivering our lowest ever cost to income ratio, just 9.3%.

So, royalties in – up. Royalties out – up. Our cost to income – down. The utopia, if I can still use that word, for any collecting society. By way of comparison, in 2022 the global recorded music industry grew by 9%. PRS’s revenues grew by 24%. We more than outperformed the market.

Two years ago, on this very stage, I committed to maximising the value of members’ rights, to pay out a billion pounds in royalties by 2026. And I pledged to keep a tight control of costs, reducing our cost to income to below 10%.

Last year we accelerated our journey towards that billion-pound target. And delivered, four years ahead of schedule, a cost to income ratio well below the 10% target we set.

In recent weeks it has been suggested to me that PRS’s record revenues were just the result of markets in the UK and globally returning to more ‘normal’ conditions. But the facts tell a very different story. One of progress well beyond the simple return to a pre-pandemic state.

PRS’ total revenues last year were 19% higher than 2019. And royalties distributed were up 21%. Not a bounce-back but a sprint forward. So, what were the drivers?

Put simply, we have the right people, a high performing culture, a more commercial mindset, systems, and partnerships to succeed. 

Our new governance regime ensures faster and better decision making, greater flexibility and resilience and a more commercial, pioneering approach to deliver our ambitious long-term vision.

Maximising the value of members’ works, particularly in a market which never stops evolving, has only been possible because we have a Members’ Council and Board with a shared vision and commitment to ensuring PRS is not just world leading but world beating.

My personal thanks to the Chairs, Stephen Davidson and Julian Nott. Their guidance is invaluable to me and the senior leadership team.

The commitment of the Members’ Council and Board is shared across the PRS Team. I have seen first-hand their desire to embrace new challenges and ways of working. To match the creativity, professionalism, and passion of those they represent.

Over the last two years we finalised an unprecedented 82 agreements with new and existing customers. Including renewed deals with long-standing partners such as the BBC, Sky, Channel 4, Netflix, Apple TV and Sony PlayStation; and agreed new deals with services such as Disney plus, Amazon Freevee. We reached a landmark agreement with Twitch, an important new partnership in the rapidly growing live-streamed gaming and entertainment market. Licensed our first NFT, concluded an agreement with the largest UK promoter of online concerts, Driift, as well as extend agreements into the metaverse.

The commercial team have also focussed on strengthening relationships and developing a shared understanding with our customers. Their businesses are changing as rapidly as ours, and we must strive to support their drive to innovate and evolve.

Internationally we finalised negotiating improved terms in our agreements with the largest sister societies and started seeing a positive revenue impact from those agreed in previous years.

I am also delighted to say we reached an agreement with the French Tax Authority enabling members to benefit from minimised withholding on their French royalties and we continue to expand our licensing activities into the Gulf airlines sector.

Alongside these ground-breaking commercial achievements, last year we fully leveraged the benefits of our longer-term investments and partnerships strategies.

The decision to migrate our distributions systems to the cloud ensured we could process the tens of trillions of lines we received, but also gave us the capacity to develop new process and policies, resulting in 10s of millions of royalties being distributed last year.

The implementation of our data strategy has provided more control over our data than ever before, allowing for greater data driven decision making and greater speed, transparency, and accuracy in distributions.

ICE, under the new leadership of Peter de Monnink, continue to redefine cutting edge multi-territory licensing, processing, and copyright services. Operating across more than 150 territories, new technologies, such as ICE Apollo, meaning they can process and distribute more quickly and accurately. As noted earlier, music streaming royalties increased by 26% last year and 83% higher than 2019.

Our public performance joint venture, PPL PRS, celebrated its fifth anniversary in February. In that time, they have collected over £1bn in revenues for PPL and PRS members. This ground-breaking partnership ensured we could swiftly respond as customers re-opened their businesses, delivering £228m in PRS royalties in 2022. I want to thank Andrea Gray and the PPL PRS team for their unwavering commitment to our joint endeavours.

My thanks also to MCPS, who also recently announced unprecedented financial results. We are constantly grateful for their commitment to our partnership and the shared vision for innovative solutions for customers and members alike.

Finally, but most importantly, everything we do is possible because we have the privilege to represent the incredible works of our inspiring members and works.

Yet again PRS members, provided the soundtracks to the year. Not just here in the UK but around the world.  Across radio, TV, online and on stage, their works inspired and entertained us all. 

So, to answer the starting question, how did PRS deliver record growth last year?

The brilliance of our members. The critical support of our Council and Board. Reaping the rewards of our investment and partnership strategies. And a PRS Team entirely dedicated to securing the best results for members.

Being brilliant at the basics creates a culture and the foundations to pioneer.

I want to finish by saying a few words about my aspirations for the year to come. Next year PRS will celebrate its 110th year.

Throughout that time the core purpose of why we exist has remained constant. The underlying premise that collective management of rights drives value and efficiencies remains as true today as it was in 1914.

But while our primary purpose is unchanged, the world around us never stops evolving.

The digital revolution of the last decade has accelerated change to levels not seen since industrialisation in the 18th century, and AI will accelerate this further.

The challenge for any well-established business, of which PRS is certainly one, is how to embrace the new, to take controlled risks, to innovate – whilst never losing sight of what made us valuable in the first place.

This is why I have asked the PRS Team to embrace a culture of intrapreneurship. 

A way of working which supports and encourages individuals to behave as entrepreneurs, taking the initiative to drive forward new ideas whilst minimising risk.

It was this mindset, that drove the creation of our new data portal, Nexus. For the first time we are publishing large volumes of the data we use to track and pay royalties. Giving greater access to this data opens new possibilities which will ultimately improve accuracy and writer credits.

While this is a PRS initiative, our objectives are far broader. We want a shift across the society network towards greater transparency, giving songwriters, composers and publishers greater visibility and control of their data.

This is just the beginning. Over the coming months you will start to see more pioneering projects. Including the ambitious re-design of our register my music tool, which will simplify the process of registering works with us. We are improving our set list hub experience and re-designing our systems and website, making it easier to find information and support.

The End-to-End review of our distribution eco-system is continuing design policies and tools so we can make faster and even more accurate distributions.

There is so much to look forward to.

I am about to celebrate my fourth anniversary as CEO and vividly recall, joining this industry as a relative outsider, and the sense of excitement on day one.

The passion, creativity and commitment of our members, and let us never forget the impact their works have, alongside the drive and determination of the PRS Team and Members’ Council, make this an extraordinary organisation.

One which I am proud to lead and determined to ensure we constantly strive to grow and be the best in the years to come.

Thank you.

About PRS for Music

Here for music since 1914, PRS for Music is a world-leading music collective management organisation representing the rights of more than 175,000 talented songwriters, composers and music publishers. Redefining the global standard for music royalties, PRS for Music ensures songwriters and composers are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. 

For 110 years it has grown and protected the rights of the music creator community, paying out royalties with more accuracy, transparency and speed. In 2023, PRS for Music paid out £943.6m in royalties and collected a record £1.08 billion in revenues.

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