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Online Live Concert royalties

The popularity of online live concerts events has grown beyond all expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic, for many becoming a source of income and a means to connect with fans.

Many online live concerts are being held as free events on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook and do not require additional licensing, generally being covered by the platform’s licence. At the same time, however, there have been significant increases in ticketed events, sponsored concerts, or those requiring mandatory donations to view. For members to be paid for this event a bespoke licence is needed.

While there are similarities with physical events there are also some important differences. To ensure that members can be paid when their works are performed a dedicated licensing scheme was needed. Earlier this year we asked for input from members and the wider music industry to help shape the online live concerts licence. We received nearly 2,000 responses, of which 80% were from members. The responses showed that 51% of members said they were planning to, or had held, an online concert and 54% have had their works performed by others at an online event.

In light of the feedback received we’ve made some significant changes to improve our licence offering:

  • More members can get a no cost 'Discretionary Licence'
    If you are performing only your own work (you control 100% of the rights), it now doesn’t matter how much money your concert makes, you can obtain a licence for your event, at no cost.
  • Greater choice for small concerts
    Small online concerts, now earning up to £1,500, can either choose a fixed price or apply for a bespoke licence linked to specific event revenues.
  • We won’t seek to license more small concerts from last year
    We will not be pursuing licences from 2020 events which generated up to £1,500 in revenue, up from £500.
  • The licence now covers 72 hours, not 24
    The OLC licence duration has been extended - it now allows fans to watch the event for up to 72 hours from the first webcast, rather than the previous 24 hours.

To support the live sector during its forced closure, we have set an interim discounted rate for online live concerts. The cost of the licence will be 10% of event revenue (events under £1,500 will operate under the separate small concert scheme). This discounted rate ensures that members, who have seen an 80% decline in live 2020 royalties, are fairly paid when their music is performed while also supporting the live music sector as it experiments with online concerts. The rate is consistent with those adopted in many other countries.

The discounted rates ensures that members, who have seen an 80% decline in live 2020 royalties, are fairly paid when their music is performed while also supporting the live music sector as it experiments with online concerts. The rate is consistent with those adopted in many other countries.

Discounted rates shall apply while material restrictions are in place for the live concert sector. When we return to holding concerts in person and at full capacity, a permanent rate will be needed. This will be benchmarked against those applied to other online premium video and/or music streaming services, reflecting both the rights exploited and the market in which they operate.

We are still in active conversations with representatives of the theatrical sector on whether changes to the OLC licence are necessary to reflect their own unique circumstances. We are hoping to reach agreement on this soon and we’ll update the website once these discussions have concluded.

Find out more about online live concerts, when a licence is needed and how royalties will be paid.

By ‘online live concert’, we mean a webcast of a performance to an online audience. Although we use the term 'concert' these can also include live DJ sets.

While there are many similarities, there are some very important differences.

A physical event generally takes place in one place, such as a venue, and is enjoyed by fans in that venue. An online live concert, while generally performed in one place it is then made available directly to fans wherever they choose to watch it, including outside of the UK. Online live concerts need different permissions to use members works, than physical events. A physical live concert needs authorisation to use the public performance right. An online live concert requires the communication to the public right and the reproduction right.

You can use our handy tool to confirm whether you need a licence you, and if so the options available to you.

Online Live Concert licence covers the communication to the public and associated mechanical and synch rights of the repertoire we represent. We are working with our sister societies to provide the broadest possible territorial coverage excluding the United States. Please contact the licensing team at applications@prsformusic.com for further information in the event you expect broad international revenues from your event

If an online live concert is sponsored or branded by a single company, and that company is responsible for the event, the OLC licence will not provide all of the rights needed.  In such instances you need to contact us at applications@prsformusic.com for advice on the options available to you. 

You can host a free online live concert on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, without needing to get a separate licence from PRS. This is because the event will be covered by the licence which the platform has with us and other rightsholders. You may, however, want to check the platforms terms and conditions to see what conditions they may apply and what rights they have cleared.

Ticketed online live concerts hosted on Facebook and YouTube require a licence. Use our handy tool to find out what licence you need.

Conferencing platforms like Zoom and Teams are not currently licensed for online live concerts. If you are hosting a live event on these platforms you will be responsible for obtaining a licence. Find out what licence you need.

We know at this time some members want greater freedom to perform their works at their own online live concerts. Therefore, while the live sector is limited by material restrictions on how it can operate, we are offering members a discretionary licence. Members can obtain a discretionary licence at no cost if:

  • They are wishing to perform an online ticketed live concert of exclusively their own works
  • They would receive all the royalties due, for example they do not have a publisher
  • They are performing

We have made obtaining this licence as simple as possible and it can be accessed online via the member login. While members don’t need to submit setlists for the event, we do need to collect basic details of the event and instruction for us not to collect royalties.

Where there are multiple members performing together, such as a band, and those members collectively would be due to receive all the royalties from the individual performance, each member will need to obtain their own discretionary licence.

If you are live streaming ticketed online concerts within the theatrical sector please contact us at applications@prsformusic.com for up to date advice. We are currently in discussions with parties within these sectors and hope to confirm our approach soon.

For as long as the interim discounted rate for Online Live Concerts is in place, we will apply a 10% administration rate. We will review this once a permanent rate is agreed and published.

As a membership organisation, we cover the cost of collecting members’ royalties through our admin rates. We work on continually improving our systems each year so we can keep these as low as possible and we are one of the most cost-effective collecting societies in the world.

When we are notified of works being used by a licensed online concert or by a licensed streaming service such as YouTube or Facebook we will be distributing in line with our standard distribution policy.

We are actively encouraging all online live concerts to submit a setlist from the event. This will ensure that we can pay the royalties collected to each of the works being performed.

We're asking everyone covered by an OLC Licence to submit a setlist for their event. This provides us with an accurate record of the event so we can pay royalties to the songwriters, composers and publishers whose works have been performed. We’re not collecting set lists for events covered by a discretionary licence (although we will accept them if members think it useful for us to have them). Members may want to retain a record of the event to evidence the works which were performed in case a claim should be made by another rightsholder in the future.

The amount you receive will depend on how many of your works are performed and their length as well as the revenue generated by the event.

Royalties will be paid out in line with our distribution policies. Live streaming revenue is part of online payments which are paid out in our quarterly distributions.

Please note that in order to be paid your royalties need to reach a minimum threshold. There is a minimum of six months between your music being played and any royalties arriving in your bank account.

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee any significant increase. The amount of royalties we’ll pay out for live streaming that takes place over this period will depend on the data supplied to us, so it’s too early to tell what the impact will be. Check back on this page for future updates.

You will need to separately license both the physical and online elements of your concert.

PRS for Music can assist you with the online element of your licence. You can use our handy tool to confirm the options available to you.

You need to contact PPL PRS Ltd to on 0800 072 0808 to license the physical element of your concert.

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