Traditionally, collection society the PRS has distributed most of the £630m royalties it collects every year to artists from the rock & pop field. The old joke used to run that the PRS collects millions of pounds of royalties and then Robbie Williams gets it all. But in recent years, it's been trying to give producers of electronic music their dues.
The PRS have been busy setting up committees looking at whether royalties — collected for radio play and other public performances of tracks — are distributed fairly, and looking at new ways of collecting data from dance artists.
They've just launched a new initiative, Amplify, to pull these varying strands together. The PRS tell DJ Mag that electronic music is fast becoming the second most popular genre their members create. Of the Top 250 singles in 2012, their number-crunchers say, 10% were electronic dance music hits.
Yet while electronic music programming made up 15% of broadcast hours on Radio 1 in 2011, paying royalties to writers for over 50% of those tracks was impossible. This was because of incomplete track information reported to PRS For Music, or producers not registering to join PRS. DJs in clubs, at festivals or on the radio are less likely to submit setlists, say the PRS, seriously affecting data to do with royalties distribution.
Only 35% of setlists were completed at Creamfields in 2011, and only 15% at Glade. In contrast, 90% of setlists were completed at Reading Festival, predominantly a guitar-based event. An average setlist for a major electronic music fest such as Creamfields or Glade can be worth £250 a set, so a potential £85,500 was not paid to the correct writers from these two events alone. In these days of reduced music sales, PRS money can be an invaluable addition to a producer's income.
“PRS For Music are there to look after our interests, so it's important to join,” says Tony Colman from Hospital Records drum & bass act London Elektricity. “Four times a year, a varying amount of money comes into my account. You can't always bank on how much you’ll get, but sometimes you might look at your statement to find that a TV show in Sweden used one of your B-sides as a theme for a game show — and earned you a few thousand in the process. It's fun seeing what's been happening to your music, and which countries are playing your tracks. Get on it.”
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