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Heavy Handed PRS

GUEST,Tom Bliss 05 Jan 10 - 02:10 PM
Howard Jones 05 Jan 10 - 01:19 PM
s&r 05 Jan 10 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 05 Jan 10 - 11:22 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 05 Jan 10 - 11:17 AM
s&r 05 Jan 10 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 05 Jan 10 - 09:46 AM
Mr Happy 05 Jan 10 - 08:35 AM
Alan Day 05 Jan 10 - 08:14 AM
Howard Jones 05 Jan 10 - 07:28 AM
s&r 05 Jan 10 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 05 Jan 10 - 05:04 AM
Howard Jones 05 Jan 10 - 04:23 AM
Mark Powell 04 Jan 10 - 11:30 AM
Alan Day 04 Jan 10 - 08:35 AM
s&r 04 Jan 10 - 07:11 AM
Howard Jones 04 Jan 10 - 06:29 AM
Mr Happy 04 Jan 10 - 06:26 AM
Mr Happy 04 Jan 10 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,woodsie 04 Jan 10 - 04:39 AM
Ebbie 03 Jan 10 - 07:42 PM
Tootler 03 Jan 10 - 06:13 PM
Simon G 03 Jan 10 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,woodsie 03 Jan 10 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 03 Jan 10 - 10:38 AM
Mr Happy 03 Jan 10 - 10:34 AM
s&r 02 Jan 10 - 07:05 PM
Howard Jones 02 Jan 10 - 02:32 PM
sapper82 02 Jan 10 - 12:14 PM
Howard Jones 25 Nov 09 - 04:51 AM
SPB-Cooperator 24 Nov 09 - 08:13 AM
Richard Mellish 24 Nov 09 - 04:40 AM
Alan Day 24 Nov 09 - 04:37 AM
Alan Day 23 Nov 09 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,Tom 23 Nov 09 - 02:10 PM
Howard Jones 23 Nov 09 - 01:15 PM
Howard Jones 23 Nov 09 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,TB 23 Nov 09 - 11:56 AM
Howard Jones 23 Nov 09 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,TB 23 Nov 09 - 10:35 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 23 Nov 09 - 10:08 AM
Alan Day 23 Nov 09 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 23 Nov 09 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 23 Nov 09 - 09:23 AM
Howard Jones 23 Nov 09 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 23 Nov 09 - 09:12 AM
Howard Jones 23 Nov 09 - 09:10 AM
Alan Day 23 Nov 09 - 08:48 AM
s&r 23 Nov 09 - 08:47 AM
matt milton 23 Nov 09 - 08:25 AM
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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 02:10 PM

Howard, you should write to PRS in those terms - as I have done.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 01:19 PM

Tom is right, it would be totally impractical to submit detailed returns for every session. Nevertheless, the current charge for a live music session for less than 100 people with not admission charge is now £8.00. PRS deducts 20% for admin costs which leaves £6.40 for distribution. Based on the sessions I attend, at least 2/3rds of the material should properly attributable to "trad". Of the remainder, about half is unattributable because of lack of information. That leaves about a quid to be randomly apportioned between PRS members, which may or may not include those whose music was actually performed.

On this basis PRS is charging roughly 8 times what they should. The people who have to pay this are not the ones promoting the music, and may see little commercial benefit. Whilst I agree that the musicians should be prepared to contribute, by the time the landlord has fallen out with the PRS the damage is done.

The fact is that PRS is getting itself a reputation for bullying behaviour and for actually damaging live music. It is hardly surprising that it meets with a hostile reception, even from those who support its objectives.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: s&r
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 11:53 AM

Tom

Giving away money that shouldn't have been charged isn't balancing books.

How would I do it?

Dunno really. Not how it's done that's for sure.

I think I'd start by ignoring places where music is not a significant part of the earning potential of the business eg Kwik Fit - no-one would have a tyre changed at KF because the mechanic had a particular radio program on.

I would cancel the ruling that forced our local festival to tell licensees that for the period of the festival the PRS licence that they pay should be voided, because we were to be charged 3% of turnover even though we used PRS licensed premises.

I'd ignore sessions where the organisers could and were willing to declare that atl least (say) 90% of tunes were PD.

I'd charge for profit making performances of course, and pay the copyright owners.

I'd look for reasonable negotiation instead of legal threats.

I don't know this but I suspect that the revenue collectors are of the same ilk as the cold calling salesmen we all love. I'd ban cold calls and send polite letters if necessary.

But it's all hypothetical isn't it?

Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 11:22 AM

BTW: The ringtone thing is because PRS can't marry up every penny they collect to individual works (see above). The balance is divided on a pro-rate basis. So it's not someone else's money - it's ours, just from a slop pot that it's impossible to separate out.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 11:17 AM

So how would you do it, Stu?

Have every single play, of every single piece of music, everywhere in the country, be logged and recorded, then calculated and paid out?

Just stop and think about it for one moment. Imagine the man hours - it couldn't possibly be done.

Remember, the licence rates are not set by PRS, but by in independent body. They are fair and tested in law.

We do have an issue about 'accidental/incidental' collection of non-member copyright material and public domain material in folk clubs and sessions, but we're working on that - and it's a tiny teeny weeny fraction of the money collected on copyright works, so I for one at least understand why it's not PRS's top priority.

The only solutions are

a) opt-outs for majority non-member/pd events like folk clubs and sessions (working on it), or

b) requiring every song and tune always to be logged and submitted (would you prefer that)? here - borrow my pen.

Most folk-style writers like me don't actually want money from sessions and clubs (certainly not free-entry ones) - but people also sing and play material by people who jolly well do - and they have the power of the law on their side.

Personally I think less than a quid per person (or a few pence if it's a big gathering) to cover the legalities while we try to come up with something better, plus many thousands paid out in recognition of the flaws in the system is anything but disingenuous.

How the money is shared out among members is purely an internal matter. PRS is owned and run by it's members, and the small players like me may get the least money, but numerically we are in a majority. Some of us bother to agitate for improvements, some don't - but the division is down to us, not the public or the government.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: s&r
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 09:53 AM

The concept of PRS foundation balancing the books by charitable works is just a bit disingenuous Tom. If you are paid for ringtones that aren't yours, that's someone elses money. If fifty sessions pay for the club tent at Cambridge without anyone's agreement that's not the PRS money.

Robbing one group to give to another is romantic if it's Robin Hood, but he was still an outlaw

Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 09:46 AM

Hi Howard and Alan,

Well the truth is that if PRS was to try to survey every musical event in the land, it would cost so much and take so long that no writer would ever get a penny. So it has to be a compromise. This is not a perfect compromise, but it's a MASSIVE improvement on the system of a few years ago when people like me got almost nothing, always.

I get a certain amount of generic dosh (it's labelled things like 'ringtones and jukeboxes' - neither of which I've ever featured on, I'm sure!) which is an attempt by PRS to recognise the imperfections of the system. When you consider how infrequently my songs are sung in singarounds compared to, say, Slade being played in shopping centres at Christmas, it's right that I should just be getting a few quid to show willing (and it's probably about right anyway).

PRS - as I've said here many times (but no-one seems to be listening) - also balance the books by dishing out huge sums through the PRS Foundation - which helps to pay for a number of folk festivals and fund other Good Works. Again, this is to help redress the limitations of not being able to sample every event and attribute every song.

The large sums go to the people who have large exposure - ie the hits. It's not corruption, it's a (slightly flakey) attempt at fairness. And when members like U2 spot an imperfection, then PRS usually respond. Room for improvement, certainly, but please let's deal with the reality and not lazily demonise a legitimate concern.

Agreed, PRS do need to rein in their staff and contractors - but the reason they've become so combative is because of the erosion of writers rights in the digital age, and attitudes like those we can see above. You reap what you sow.

Howard, I agree about the problems of finding the names of tunes you've learned aurally (I'm guilty too here) - which is why we need the creative commons opt-out - but the principle is sound.

Certainly people should know and, crucially, always state or quote the writer of any song they sing.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Mr Happy
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 08:35 AM

On WikiP's ref page for PRS, there's a link to a press item about Bono [of U2] complaining to them about him & the band being charged several thousand pounds for membership to perform their self composed songs, yet receiving considerably less in royalties - did someone allude to corruption?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 08:14 AM

I agree Howard how can an across the board charge for PRS be equally distributed ? How can Tom Bliss(and other musicians) receive the money he is entitled to if PRS havn't a clue who is entitled to the share of lump sum charges.Surely this could also lead to corruption IE large sums of money being dished out to musicians/ record companies not entitled to them.
Over the last few years I have written a number of tunes which I am very happy for people to play. I expect no money from my work only the odd thanks for a lovely tune ,or that tune you wrote was a load of rubbish. I do not rely on this money to live like professional musicians, I want to see them get their share. Children learning to dance however, have parts of tunes or songs played for them during a session,they may not even have one record played through in total.
Leave the kids and their teachers alone and go after the real culprits!!
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 07:28 AM

Tom, first of all let me say that I agree with what you are saying. In particular, I agree there is no reason why the musicians shouldn't help the landlord to negotiate with the PRS, and indeed to contribute to the costs, which on a per session basis isn't much. However, I know from my own experience that an aggressive approach by PRS can be sufficient for a pub landlord to decide that he wants to have nothing more to do with them. And while the musicians may be happy to put into a weekly whip-round, the landlord will probably have to pay the full yearly amount up-front.

I would also like to pick you up on a couple of other points:

So far as your own income from PRS is concerned, I would hazard a guess that most of this comes from either your own performances or other musicians' cover versions performed at formal events, and notified to PRS via the small gigs and clubs scheme. However if I were to perform one of your songs at an informal session, I would be very surprised if you were to receive anything, because the PRS would be unlikely to learn about it.

On the question of attribution, I agree with you that ideally one should do this, and I try to do so when I can. However a lot of my material, particularly tunes, is stuff I have picked up by ear from playing it in sessions. I often don't know the title (perhaps the person I got if from didn't either). Even where I do know the title, it can be difficult to identify a composer, and songs and tunes are often incorrectly attributed to "trad" on albums or the internet. The ISWC database lists titles but there is no way of knowing whether this is the same piece of music, as scores or soundfiles are not included. In practice it can be very difficult to know whether a piece is copyright or not, or who composed it.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: s&r
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 05:31 AM

I suspect that most complaints re PRS are to do with aggressive tactics rather than charges per se. The approaches to small businesses and such are frightening with the implication of costly court cases. Even Kwik Fit folded - their licence is required because the customer or other members of staff might overhear a personal radio playing. What a nonsense.

As to the OP I can see that the school in question should pay for performance of music once the children have learned the dance: the learning and rehearsal time is incidental to that performance and is hardly a public performance in itself.

In the case of a session, if one item is copyright and the rest aren't surely it makes no sense to fine the traditional players on the basis that someone had played a copyright number. Let's fine all drivers because some of them might exceed the speed limit.

There should be a PRS. It should be regulated. Fair use policies should be entrenched in the legislation. All of course IMHO.

I do believe that the copyright term is excessive - compare it with patent rights which last a fraction of the time if intellectual copyright, and represent often a much larger investment of time effort and money.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 05:04 AM

Please re-read my posts above. There are changes afoot which (PRS tell me) should remove this problem once and for all (though, admittedly, they're taking their time about it).

We need to establish if The Three Stags Heads (isn't that too many words?) was a traditional tune session - in which case the musicians could and perhaps should have advised the landlord on how to negotiate with PRS for a lower or even no fee. It shouldn't have led to the session being stopped unless the landlord wanted it so.

If, however, the session played copyright material then the PRS fee is reasonable and legal - though (again, as above) I think we need a system which allows writers to waive their royalties when no money is changing hands. (That's up to us members to fix IF we choose - not for 'consumers' to impose).

In either event, there's no reason why the musicians at the Three Stags Heads couldn't have had a whip round for the £7.92. How many people went, on average? More than eight? And they wouldn't put a quid in a pot? I'm sorry but there's something wrong here.

The sharing out of the collected sum to the writers is a different matter - but that's purely between we members and our Society. I get three figures from PRS each year, and I'm just a two bit folkie. Like Mark it's an important part of my income, specially now that I'm a full time student and not earning.

Folk people need to understand: Copyright exists, immediately, in any work as soon as it's created - whether it be an industrial process, a painting, a song, or a book, and that's a core plank of society. If we had no such thing, we'd have no society because no-one would be able to develop any products.

All PRS is doing is, legally, collecting the rightful dues of song-writers.

Yes, they are sometimes heavy-handed - but they are operating in an environment where a lot of people seem to think songwriters have no rights. There is a lot of misplaced antipathy - and we've seen a lot of it here.

If people have a problem with PRS, they should write to the Society, not whinge on web forums. They do listen, and if enough people make a good case, they sometimes even respond - (but they don't read Mudcat - though I've told them to often enough).

PRS's biggest failure is explaining what they do and why. But I suspect they've given up trying. Plenty of people here have tried to explain, and yet still we keep reading posts from those who think that just because you call something 'folk' it means it's out of copyright and fair game.

It just goes to underline yet again the importance of attribution.

Anyone playing music should know if that tune or song is public domain or not, as a matter of manners and as a legal necessity. Not to do so is asking for trouble for someone at some point.

The culture of calling everything 'folk' is to blame here. We need to enshrine the word 'trad' and know if we're using it correctly or not.

Does anyone know: was the Three Stags Heads a (mainly) trad session or not?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 04:23 AM

I tried to post yesterday but for some reason it hasn't appeared. I'll try again:

The dance school (which was the original subject of this thread) is one thing - as Mark says, it is a commercial concern and should be prepared to pay for all the resources it uses, including the music.

The situation with sessions is a bit different. In most cases, in my experience, these are not run by the pub landlord to promote his business, but by the customers for their own enjoyment. No one is making money out of the performance, and the landlord may or may not make extra money out of it from bar sales. In a number of cases, the the Three Stags' Heads being only the latest, the landlord has presumably taken the view that any additional bar sales are not sufficient to cover the extra cost of a PRS licence. This suggests to me that PRS has got its fee scales wrong for this type of performance.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Mark Powell
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 11:30 AM

Like many, my income from PRS is part of the income I need to make a living. (95% of the PRS's income goes to 5% of its members, and I'm amongst the other 95%.) I don't live in a mansion, but my PRS and MCPS royalties help keep me off the dole. I've worked ****** hard to get to this stage and, whereas I'm usually up for doing a charity gig if it's something that I think merits my support, I expect anyone who uses my music to pay for it!

If the PRS's tactics were a little heavy-handed in this case, that is regrettable, but if the dance school charges for its lessons, it is operating as a commercial concern and has to pay its expenses, like any other. Does it not have to pay for electricity, water, etc?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 08:35 AM

The more I read the excellent replies to this subject ,the more it seems that an urgent revamp of the whole system is required. It is just a mess with a number of people obviously working on commission for the amount of money they rake in.
I agree that artists should be paid for their recordings, but not at the expense of the venues where traditional music or teaching is involved. A proper form filled in by the DJ or organiser of the music played and then charged properly to the club,I am certain this used to be the old system, now changed to a percentage of the turnover where all music is played?
Something needs to be done!!
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: s&r
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 07:11 AM

No-one minds the artist getting paid. Many people object to being bullied and blackmailed

Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 06:29 AM

Tootler, there are different tariffs for different types of entertainment. A PRS licence for playing recorded music won't cover a live session, and vice versa.

Mr Happy, PRS is not a government organisation, however it is established to manage composers' copyright interests, which are protected by law. Whilst one can be very critical of the manner in which it operates, the alternative would be that in order to perform a copyright piece you would have to get permission from the copyright owner, and negotiate a fee in each case. PRS is probably the most practical solution. A similar model is used in most countries.

More information is on the PRS website


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 06:26 AM

http://www.whitebeertravels.co.uk/stags.html


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 06:24 AM

Re: 3 Stags Heads - a unique establishment, open as a pub just 3 days a week, Fri, Sat, Sun + Bank Holidays, the rest of the week, it's a pottery.

There's no telly nor any canned music, just quiet conversation, superb food,fabulous real ales, [don't ask for lager!] genial atmosphere, cosy real log/coal fires.

The Saturday night sesh was at irregular intervals

A huge shame this has happened


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,woodsie
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 04:39 AM

I'm sure that you can request that PRS attend your premises and take a sample, although they will not give you a date - they WILL announce themselves on the day. I attend a Jazz/standards open mic session in a venue that also hosts private weddings and other functions with live music. This venue does not have any jukebox or such. After several samples being taken by PRS officrs the PRS fee was in fact REDUCED by a substantial ammount due to the balance and frequency (1 or 2 nights weekly) of Copywrite material and public domain stuff. I can't remember the exact ammounts, but it was something like from £300 down to £150 p.a. So it is definitely worth contacting the PRS. However, be wary and talk to/get permission from the landlord first as the PRS charge is likely to be stay high or even increase if there is a jukebox, radio, TV or other piped music source active on the premises. Also please do not confuse PRS charges with music/entertainment licensing costs as these are a completely seperate animal!


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jan 10 - 07:42 PM

My suggestion is probably idealistic and impractible but since we know that advertising works, why not require that each song and tune that is royalty-vulnerable be listed and posted on the premises, giving the artist, the format and CD in which it can be found?

The artist(s) would be sure to profit from it, I would argue.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Tootler
Date: 03 Jan 10 - 06:13 PM

She told me that the Landlord of The Three Stags Heads, at wardlow Mires, has had to stop sessions there because PRS is demanding £1000 a year for a license.

Does the pub play recorded music at other times? If so then surely the landlord will still be liable to pay a fee to the PRS as there are royalties to be collected.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Simon G
Date: 03 Jan 10 - 12:17 PM

Your correct Tom the charge is a small charge compared to the annual turnover of a pub, however margins are very low in tenanted pubs so its a significant additional cost off the margin.

In my experience landlords rightly see it as a cost associated with that particular event and quickly realise that they need to sell a lot of beer to recoup £7.92 for the session. They quickly look for other less costly groups to invite into the pub.

Clearly the PRS aren't interested in changing their policy. We should be considering lobbying the government to exclude participant music events from licencing. My suggestions is that events where 30% or more present participate in music or dance can perform any published work without requiring a licence.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,woodsie
Date: 03 Jan 10 - 11:02 AM

The unfair thing is that no matter what music is performed at the venue the fee of ... say £300 is divided up amongst the current most performed composers nationwide. This % is estimated from field officer's returns from random samples of music played up and down the country. I know this because we regularly have samples taken at one of our clubs. So if the venue plays all public domain music then Paul McCartney and the other ultra-rich fat cats are guaramteed a % of money paid by that venue! There was a case several years ago when Bono challenged the PRS for chargeing his band U2 several £1000s, on the grounds that they were performing all self penned material and by the time the PRS royalty came back to him from that gig it was less than 1% of what they had paid! The reason for this was COSTS - also did you know that PRS is a registered charity!!!


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 03 Jan 10 - 10:38 AM

But that's still a tiny fraction of the likely pub turnover of £2-400k.

If The Three Stages Heads was running a purely traditional (public domain) tune/song session, then it was up to the musicians to provide the landlord with the information needed to negotiate with PRS - (assuming the landlord actually wanted the session to continue, and wasn't using PRS as an excuse, as has been known to happen elsewhere).

If it was a mixed session - with copyright material being used - then it's right, both morally and legally, for a licence to be required. Just because you choose to call music 'folk' doesn't mean it's actually public domain. You might just as well expect free beer.

It would be better to concentrate on the areas where PRS are out of order, and try to avoid knee-jerk reactions to activities which may in fact be both legally and morally correct.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Mr Happy
Date: 03 Jan 10 - 10:34 AM

Who is PRS? Are they part ofgovernment?


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: s&r
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 07:05 PM

Or nearly £1000 if there are twice weekly sessions...


Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 02:32 PM

£1000 sounds a lot, if it's just for the sessions and doesn't also cover recorded music. According to PRS's Tariff P, for up to 100 people the charge should be £7.92 per event - £411.84 pa for a weekly session. Still too much if much of the music is not actually controlled by PRS (usually the case at a folk session), but a lot less than they're quoting.

The problem is, in situations like this the landlord often isn't interested in getting into prolonged negotiations with PRS for something which probably doesn't bring in very much extra business, and so they stop the music. Everyone loses out, including PRS's members.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: sapper82
Date: 02 Jan 10 - 12:14 PM

Was chatting to Una, of No fixed Abode on New Years Eve when they were performing at the Rising Sun at Middleton.
She told me that the Landlord of The Three Stags Heads, at wardlow Mires, has had to stop sessions there because PRS is demanding £1000 a year for a license.

That is another venue they have killed off.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 04:51 AM

The simple solution would be for them to stop playing music in their shops.

Anything which stops shops playing background music has my support!


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 08:13 AM

An article I have just read.

http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/News/FundraisingBulletin/968885/Fees-playing-music-charity-shops-will-excessive-Association-Charity


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:40 AM

The law in the UK is changing.

See HMG response to consultation

I have no further information.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:37 AM

How do PRS separate a payment to specific artists from a lump sum payment?
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 02:49 PM

Many thanks Howard for the Tariff "DS" Link
I will pass this information to my friend so that she has the full details of what the phone call was about.
If she had received this properly through the post on official notepaper, there would not have been any concern on her part and that the person asking for details of her turnover and business details on the phone would not have been necessary and caused her distress and concern as to whether it was a scam or not.
I can now put her mind to rest, it still does not alter my feelings on the charges however, where small children are learning song and dance.
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 02:10 PM

Sorry, Howard - yes, I see what you mean. Agreed it's not a very perfect system in terms of copyright material being performed at sessions with no sample being taken to get the royalty to the right writers (but not arrangers, by definition).

PRS do accept this, and they suggest that they redress the balance using the PRS Foundation, with funds festivals and other good works - including some in the folk field.

I think they could do more, and once tried to suggest a fairer system, through the FRATS sections of the MU (who I support). But they'd only recently fought hard to get the current system in place, and as it's a huge improvement on its predecessor my suggestions rather fell on deaf ears.

One solution would be for one member of the session - someone who has, perhaps, put out a CD or a song/tune book (i.e. published some arrangements) - to join PRS and then regularly submit set lists to GACS as 'musical director' of the session. The royalty could then be used to buy a pint and a bag of crisps to share between all the players!

And yes, the PRS website IS one of the worst I have ever encountered, from a design point of view, and I've told them that too - lots of times!

The key is in this phrase from the notes on the DS tarrif in your link:

"repertoire means all and any musical works (including any
words associated therewith), the right of public performance in
which is controlled by the Performing Right Society Limited"

That does NOT include public domain material.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 01:15 PM

To keep this on topic, there seems to be a specific rate for dance tuition:

Tariff "DS"


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 01:08 PM

TOm, with respect, you're missing my point. Why shouldn't singarounds and sessions be included? They should be in premises with a PRS licence (obviously if they're not it's better not to draw it to their attention). If I play a copyright tune or sing a copyright song at one of these, why shouldn't the composer receive their share of the licence fee?

The GACS is for PRS members - essentially it is for composers and arrangers to report performances of their own material. If I understand PRS's website correctly (and its very difficult to find information on there), they now only take returns from larger concert venues, and for smaller ones they rely on sampling. This means there's no facility for non-members to reporting performances of someone else's work.

If sessions do indeed get sampled, I wonder how representative they are? What is bog-standard at one session may be unknown at one just down the road.

I'd like to think the folk world would be receptive to PRS. What it needs is a tariff system which reflects the economics of small-scale events, and a distribution system which gives people confidence that their licence fee will actually go to the artists whose work they perform, which in turn means an accurate system of reporting what is actually performed. Perhaps this already exists - if so, the PRS is doing a very poor job of informing people.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 11:56 AM

Yes, the inaccessibility of the database is another beef. I've suggested that there should be an error-free public version. The trouble at the moment is that it's a DIY input - people just put in whatever they want, hence the 59 writers of Ride On (not that PRS pay out on that - they pay out on what they believe to be the legal case).

But in fairness to PRS they don't technically need to police the database - just keep a record in case of a legal claim. Then it'd be down to the performer and the writer/arranger to sort out the deal between them.

You're wrong about GACS being just about writer/arrangers though - any member who plays a non-'Concert Sales' gig can claim, and most do. There are loads of (trad) arranger-only members of PRS, who do quite nicely out of reclaiming their own performances of trad works that they've registered. If you do lots of gigs maybe you should join up and do the same. The more folkies the better.

"However there no longer seems to be a system for submitting returns from small events which don't get sampled (although in my experience very few folk venues ever seemed to use them - possibly because the club wasn't the PRS licensee and the landlord wasn't interested)"

See my post above. ALL gigs EVERYWHERE are covered by GACS (including sessions and singarounds - though I don't think many PRS member would include them - hope not anyway!) - it's just that it's up to the PRS members, rather than the promoters, to send in a claim (of which both promoter and landlord may remain in ignorance if no-one's explained the process to them).

And lots of us do - every gig I've ever done (apart from sessions, singaround and benefits, obviously, or any where I've been asked to keep schtum for some good reason) have gone into GACS. And it brings in a nice little sum without which I'd have gone bust in about 2002!

Sessions do get sampled. That's when you whip out your 'trad-only' set list - and it does work.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 11:28 AM

I'm pleased to hear the distribution system works for folkies. Since PRS seem to have moved away from returns from every gig to a system of random samples I had wondered how many folk venues were actually getting sampled. However I still have doubts whether smaller sessions and singarounds feature on PRS's radar. It would be interesting to know if anyone has direct experience of PRS sampling such an event - I've never met anyone.

My point about the Gigs and Clubs Scheme is that it is aimed at performing writers and arrangers. If they're performing their own songs or arrangements they can put in a set list and get paid. However there no longer seems to be a system for submitting returns from small events which don't get sampled (although in my experience very few folk venues ever seemed to use them - possibly because the club wasn't the PRS licensee and the landlord wasn't interested)

I agree that a performer should try to find out the origins of material they perform. However in practice this is very difficult. It doesn't help that the PRS database is only accessible to its members - another example of their muddled thinking, since surely they should be making it easier for the people actually using the music to find out what the copyright position is.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 10:35 AM

Don, I believe the method involves handing in a series of 'set lists' showing all the songs and tunes 'performed' in the session, together with a statement that these must be de facto new 'original arrangements' because the instrumentation and variations were unique to the night.

The new tariff will remove landlords from the equation. I'm not disputing your suggestion, and I know it's happened elsewhere, but sometimes landlords have not been given the necessary information by the musician. There have also been times when landlords have used PRS 'hounding' (yes, I know they do hound - and have complained about it to the PRS board, unlike most people) as an excuse to get rid of an uneconomic activity. So it's not always clear cut.

When claiming that a session is 'wholly traditional' it's necessary to know the copyright status of everything played. (No Dusty Windowsills, Spoota Skerry, Ride On or Fiddlers Green for example).


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 10:08 AM

""On the contrary. If you state that you are only playing public domain material, the PRS will happily leave you alone.""

Not the experience I've had, I'm afraid.

I've had two venues closed out from under me, which were wholly traditional, because the PRS hounded the licensees.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 09:48 AM

Thanks for the advice Tom I will pass it on
Al
PS thanks for the Duet recordings


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 09:31 AM

"just enriching the megastars as we cynically assume."

Err, it's a pro-rata system, so I don't think this really applies (although I know folkies love to believe it)!

I've done very nicely out of my modest scribblings. I'd have hit the buffers years earlier if it wasn't for PRS. I think I get a fair cut for my endeavours. The megastars are performing to, and recording for, millions, so they get commensurably more. That's fair, I think.

And yes, the GACS scheme applies to arrangers as much as writers. You get 100% for your own performances of your own arrangement (it's split with Anon, who doens't bother to collect his share so you get the lot), just as song and tune writers do.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 09:23 AM

Howard - I've suggested that the new club tariff could be held by the club not the venue, so they can have control, and can move venues when necessary without licensing becoming an issue with the landlord. I think that's now in the scheme. (Clubs can still operate under the landlord's licence too).

PRS divides the world up into a) Concert Venues and b) Gigs And Clubs. At Concert Venues you fill in a specific 'green sheet' with your set list. PRS will add the copyright details if you leave them blank. The rest are collected under the Gigs and Clubs scheme. You won't see any paperwork because artist members send a generic set list to PRS every 50 gigs or so. But those gigs are within the PRS remit, and will appear on their system - even if the promoter is not aware of it.

Yes, it's not easy to work out who holds copyright on 'folky' material. The PRS database is a hopeless mess (as I keep telling them). You'll find 'Dirty Old Town' credited to dozens of 'writers' and 'arrangers' and you can't even prove it's Ewan's song they're talking about because there are no sound files or music sheets. (Something else I've tried to have introduced). But if you're playing tunes you probably have some responsibility to know where they came from - not least because the writer may be living (nearby?), and may not feel as most of us do about creative commons!


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 09:20 AM

Tom, I'm interested that some sessions have apparently been successful in persuading PRS that only non-copyright material is performed and that they don't need a licence. The impression I'd got from other discussions was that PRS usually took the view that this could not be guaranteed, especially since many pieces often assumed to be traditional are in fact copyright, and insisted on a licence in most cases.

I think people in the folk world would be more receptive if we could be assured that the licence fees actually went to the people whose music we perform, rather than just enriching the megastars as we cynically assume. The "Gigs and Club Scheme" is aimed at singer-songwriters and doesn't seem to cover this situation.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 09:12 AM

I think, Al, that if your friend was to tell PRS that she was only playing public domain music on a piano then they should, repeat should, leave her alone. But she may need to take it to a higher level within PRS because the person on the phone may not understand the issues.

If, however, she is using recordings then the counter arguments above apply - as they do with any business (it's not PRS's fault that her business is small - they have a duty to be even-handed (ha!) across the board).

The only way to change things would be to apply/lobby for a special opt-out for educational use. I'm not sure what the rules are for schools at the moment, there may be an existing loophole for education, but if not, then there would be a case for trying to make one.

PRS are not going to do it themselves though.

Someone has to actually take on the battle and try to effect some change.

That's the only way things ever get better

Tom


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 09:10 AM

Apart from having different agendas, festivals differ from small clubs etc in being directly responsible for obtaining a PRS licence. Folk clubs are usually located in pubs where the venue, not the club, is responsible for getting a PRS licence. Clubs are dependent on the goodwill of the landlord, and if the landlord falls out with the PRS there's not much the club can do.

As a performer, I have no involvement with PRS licensing, since that is the responsibility of the venue, but it has a direct effect on what I do. I should have been providing set details for PRS returns, but in more than 40 years of performing, both as a floor singer and semi-pro band member, I have only been asked to do so on a handful of occasions - at the larger festivals and by the BBC. I many cases I would find it difficult, since I don't always know what is traditional and what is copyright, and it is very difficult to find out if you haven't learned it from a printed or recorded source (and those are not always correct).

As the organiser of a series of ceilidhs, again I have no involvement with PRS licensing, since that is still the responsibility of the venue, but again it has a direct effect on what we do.

The problem the smaller clubs and similar events face is that they depend entirely on having a PRS licence in place but are excluded from the process. I suspect that they are also effectively excluded from the Code of Practice and complaints procedure (including referral to the Ombudsman) since they are not themselves the licence holder.


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: Alan Day
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 08:48 AM

So if someone approaches your business and wants a percentage you just hand it over thinking that it will be OK because you can offset it against your tax ?
A business has to make a profit to exist if it makes a loss it will be pointless thinking Oh well that's good the Tax man owes me a few quid.
Getting back to the subject ,surely if a pianist is playing music for children to dance to, it could be nursery rhymes then how can an across the board tax be fair. It just cannot!!
Al


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: s&r
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 08:47 AM

Matt - you don't get your travel expenses refunded by the tax man. You just don't have to pay tax on them. If you pay tax at 30% you pay - say - £1000 travel expenses, and the tax man effectively gives you back £300. So your travel costs you £700.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Heavy Handed PRS
From: matt milton
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 08:25 AM

I don't understand either of the last two comments.

I've never had to make any PRS payments. (Never received any either, despite the fact that I've had music of mine played on BBC radio...)

But I claim for plenty of legitimate expenses on my company's annual return that are similar to this. These expenses are all deducted from the amount of tax my company has to pay.

Why is a 200 quid payment to the PRS any different to, say, travel expenses?


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