PRS for Music announces record £699.4m royalties payout, with 20% revenue drop

Songwriters and composers received a record £699.4 million in royalties in 2020 from PRS for Music, according to the UK-based organisation’s latest financial results. The payout represents a 2% increase from the previous year.

However, the effects of the pandemic are clearly evident, with a 19.7% drop in overall royalties collected in 2020, according to the new figures. This decline is a result of the significant drop in music being commissioned and played in the UK and worldwide.

Unsurprisingly, live music performances saw the greatest drop in revenue, falling by 79.1% from £54m ($74m) in 2019, to just £11.3m ($15m) in 2020. ‘Public performance’ revenue, which also includes music used in business premises such as shops, pubs and hotels, also saw a significant drop in revenue of 61.2% from the previous year.

The only area to see any growth was music played online, rising by 5.1% from 2019 to £188.3m ($259m), with the rise in demand for platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime helping to boost revenues. The amount paid out to music creators from online music revenues also saw a welcome uplift of 63.2% from the previous year.

However, despite the exponential growth in music streaming and the uptick in royalties payouts, this won’t be enough to offset the income loss for many music creators. 

“The increase, driven by growth in online revenues, cannot alone negate the immense loss of income and harm on the whole music industry, and the livelihoods of those within it, in 2020,” said Andrea Czapary Martin, CEO at PRS for Music. “This year will be similarly challenging, as the dramatic fall in revenues during the last year will be reflected in declining distributions throughout 2021.

“As we look forward, reopening of the live sector must be a priority, while the repercussions of Brexit will become clearer through new limitations on touring outside of the UK.

“Music has played an invaluable role for many of us throughout periods of isolation, providing entertainment, escapism, and connection. We must not overlook the talented writers and composers behind the music we turn to. I am immensely proud of the PRS Emergency Relief Fund, paying out £2.2m in grants to members experiencing severe financial hardship because of the pandemic, and we will continue to do as much as we possibly can to support them.”

PRS for Music represents the rights of over 155,500 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world.