PRS For Music’s annual payouts grow – but costs spiral by £10m

PRS For Music paid out significant more cash to publishers and songwriters in 2015 than it did the year before – but costs jumped by a painful amount.

The collection society’s headline costs increased by £10.2m in the year (17.7%) to £67.8m.

There was an added hit to songwriter money from charity donations, which increased by £500,000 to £2.1m – extra cash which all went to the PRS For Music Foundation.

Total PRS collections in 2015 increased by 4.7% (or £23.9m) to £537.4m, while net distributable revenue (pre-deed) to rights-holders increased 3% (or £13.7m) to £469.6m.

PRS For Music

As a result (see above), PRS for Music says its cost-to-income ratio widened from 11. 4% in 2014 to 13% in 2015.

Actual distributions to members leapt up by 8.4% (£35.6m) to £460.9m.

(These figures do not include income from MCPS; the standalone mechanical rights entity that is administrated by PRS and whose business is currently up for tender.)

In a statement, PRS argued: “Increase in cost for 2015 helped secure a significant revenue uplift and meets the demands of a complex, competitive and ever changing marketplace.

“With the transition from downloads to streaming, there was a corresponding increase in the volume of usage data processed from 975 billion to over 2 trillion uses. This trend is set to increase.”

It added that “the costs we can control are well controlled”.

“The costs we can control are well controlled.”

PRS For Music

In other words, streaming is getting increasingly complicated to deal with, and that costs more of your money.

And it will continue to get increasingly complicated, and continue to cost more of your money.

The fruits of this labour were seen in online revenue, which was up 12.8% to £42.4m last year – despite download revenue falling 35.1% to £6.1m.

In fact, streaming was much more significant to PRS members than iTunes, with revenues from on-demand services such as Spotify up 12.9% to £23.7m.

International revenue was the biggest source of income in the year overall, up 7.3% to £195.6m.

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Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of PRS’s costs in the year, including exceptional expenditure such as pensions.

As you can see, on this basis, total annual costs increased 12.9% to £84.1m.

PRS added: “Areas of cost increases include exceptional costs (pensions and non-recurring property rebate), one off costs associated with litigation and planned investments to deliver additional value.”

This figure also includes legal fees for PRS’s lawsuit against SoundCloud.

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