UK collection society PRS for Music is suing a livestream platform called LIVENow for allegedly lacking the correct licenses for various livestreamed events.
LIVENOW’s parent company is London-based Aser Ventures, founded by entrepreneur Andrea Radrizzani in 2015 with a portfolio that includes Premier League football club Leeds United.
In a lawsuit filed in December, PRS for Music alleges LIVENow concerts lacked the correct licensing, including the Dua Lipa “Studio 2054” online event, which took place in November 2020,
The event sold 285,000 tickets and attracted 5 million viewers.
Gavin Larkins, Director of Commercial Development and Sales, PRS for Music, told MBW in a statement that, “no PRS member has been paid for the use of their songs in this event, or the other concerts held by LIVENow”.
He added: “Litigation has been put in motion to ensure we can collect the royalties due from LIVENow and its parent company Aser Ventures. We hope to resolve this issue, so that music creators can finally be paid for the use of their works.”
There was a lot of debate in the UK around licensing for livestreamed events back in 2020 during the pandemic when live shows were banned.
Following a boom in livestreaming that year, by late 2020, PRS for Music proposed a tariff of between 8% and 17% of gross revenues for ticketed or sponsored livestream events.
At the time, more than 50 music managers including representatives of British stars like Dua Lipa, Arctic Monkeys, Biffy Clyro and Liam Gallagher, as well as artists represented by the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) signed a joint letter to PRS for Music urging it to reconsider the proposed livestreamed event tariff.
The current tariff for normal “in-person” live shows is charged at 4.2% of gross revenues.
This tariff came into effect in May 2018, after a 1% increase was approved by the Copyright Tribunal after a three-year consultation between PRS members, licensees, stakeholders and live sector industry bodies.
According to PRS for Music’s website, at present, if revenues from an online live concert are more than £1,500 a license can be obtained under an ‘interim discounted rate’ for online live concerts.
The cost of that licence, according to PRS “will be the higher of 3p per 5 mins of song (or part thereof) and 10% of event revenue +VAT”.
PRS also launched an Online Live Concert license for small-scale live-streamed gigs in January 2021, which the org stated at the time was created “in response to the huge rise in livestreamed concerts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic”.
Ticketed online live events staged in the UK with revenues below £250 are subject to a fixed license fee of £25 + VAT, while organizers of livestreamed events with revenues of £500 to £1,000 have to pay up £75 + VAT.
Commenting further on the LIVENow litigation, Gavin Larkins, Director of Commercial Development and Sales, PRS for Music, said that the organization “has positively engaged in licensing negotiations with LIVENow” for more than 18 months.
He added that these discussions “remain unresolved” and as such, PRS says it has “taken action to defend the rights of our members and songwriters of other societies.
Added Larkins: “PRS for Music’s role is to ensure songwriters and composers, here in the UK and around the world, are paid when their music is used. We take this responsibility very seriously.
“We provide a licence for businesses who offer ticketed online concerts and have licensed many users under this scheme. LIVENow chose not to obtain this licence prior to launching its programme of online concerts, including the globally-streamed Dua Lipa ‘Studio 2054’ online event in November 2020 – the highest viewed online concert worldwide.
“No PRS member has been paid for the use of their songs in this event, or the other concerts held by LIVENow.”Music Business Worldwide