LEGAL & FINANCE

A guide to PRS for Music

From the PRS for Music website: www.prsformusic.com
 
PRS for Music is one of the key royalty collection societies here in the UK, combining both PRS and MCPS. Others include PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd), ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), and many more throughout Europe and other territories.
 
All of these royalty collection societies are incredibly important to explore and understand for performing musicians, composers, songwriters, publishers and labels. Ultimately, you will find that at least one of these services is relevant to you and will play an important role in making sure you get paid for the use of your work beyond upfront fees.
 
Who are PRS for Music?
PRS for Music is a collecting society which songwriters, composers and music publishers become members of in order to get paid for the use of their music. PRS for Music collects licence fees from anyone that uses music for a business benefit, and then pays royalties to music creators in the UK and around the world.
 
PRS for Music is the brand name that brings together two royalty collection societies; MCPS and PRS.
 
PRS (Performing Right Society Limited) represents songwriters, composers and music publishers, and collects royalties on their behalf whenever their music is publicly performed. This includes performances of both live and recorded music or music from TV and radio, in premises from concert halls to corner shops.
 
MCPS (Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society Limited) also represents songwriters, composers and music publishers, but collects royalties on their behalf whenever their music is reproduced for products such as CDs, digital downloads and musical toys.
 
Organisations like PRS for Music exist in almost every country in the world. PRS for Music has reciprocal agreements with the international societies, allowing for members to be paid wherever their music is played.
 
Why should I join?
If you write your own songs or music, or co-write with others and your music is being regularly performed, then you should consider joining as you could earn money from your music.
 
You should join PRS if the music you have written is broadcast on TV and/or radio, performed live, regularly used online or otherwise played in public.
 
You don’t need to join PRS if you perform but do not have any writing credits, arrange or play existing pieces of music which are still in copyright or DJ but don’t produce your own tracks.
 
Songwriters and composers can join MCPS to earn royalties when songs are reproduced, such as for CDs and digital downloads.
 
You don’t need to join MCPS if you’re a published songwriter or composer and your publisher is already a member. In this case, the publisher will collect MCPS royalties on your behalf and pass an agreed share on to you.
 
How to join
If you want to join either PRS or MCPS you can visit www.prsformusic.com and fill in the online application. Follow the steps until completion, at the end of the application you will need to print off the form, sign it and post it for processing. Membership is not confirmed until PRS for Music receive the hard copy of the signed form, validate it and send a confirmation email.
 
Membership fees
Current administration fees are one-off £50 for writer membership per society.
 
First steps after joining
You will receive a confirmation email informing you that you have joined PRS for Music and will be given a unique Membership Number (previously referred to as CAE number).
 
After setting up an online account, remembering to register your songs (which from here on will be referred to as works) as accurately as possible is one of your most important tasks as a member. It’s essential so PRS for Music know who to pay royalties to when music is used.
 
Register works
Registering your works on www.prsformusic.com is simple and only takes a few minutes. You will need to register each work title, and the songwriting splits. Works will be visible our database within 48 hours once registered and each work will be given a unique Tunecode.
 
If you are published, it is important to check with your publisher before registering any works as this is usually their responsibility.
 
Check your registered works
The Search Our Database tool lets you search for any music or recording registered with PRS for Music. There are a variety of search options available to help you find what you are looking for quickly and easily.
 
Remember to check the accuracy of your work details once they’re in the database.
 
Report live performances
If your works are being performed live, you could be due a payment. Make sure you use the Report Live, online and overseas usage tool to claim if you are gigging in your local pub, performing your classical piece at a music society, playing a set at a festival or performing any other live performances in a venue.
 
You will be asked to detail the venue, date and set-list.
 
You do not need to inform PRS for Music of TV or Radio performances of your works as the TV and Radio stations report them directly to PRS for Music as part of their licensing agreements.
 
Search unpaid royalties
Sometimes music is used and PRS for Music are unable to identify who to pay.
 
The Claim Unpaid Royalties tool is available for members to search and claim any royalties that belong to them.
 
Check your personal details are correct
It’s very important PRS for Music have your correct personal details as it helps ensure that you get paid for the use of your music.
 
So make sure your address, bank account and contact details are always accurate. The My Account section also lets you add any pseudonyms you perform under or details of additional users, such as a manager or agent, to your account.
 
PRS distribution frequency and schedules
PRS runs four “quarterly” distributions a year, in April, July, October and December.

View the full schedule here.

 
The amount you will be paid (for PRS distribution) is visible on your Member Homepage five working days before the distributions are paid. If you have not received payment for a usage that was due for distribution, you can use the Raise a Query tool to check whether you should have been paid.

More ways to get involved

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