Musicians' Survival Guide: Registering Works with PRS for Music

By James Warrender |

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Registering a musical work

You will need to register your musical works with PRS to ensure you receive any royalty payments for them.

Below are some points to consider when registering works/songs with the PRS and MCPS database.

Always proof the spelling of your tracks

Incorrect spellings of titles will affect the PRS automation process which could result in a delay of earnings

Whilst the ‘duration’ of your work isn’t a mandatory field when registering, it could impact on how much you earn

PRS will automatically apply a duration of three minutes to any work that is unspecified, resulting in a loss of earnings if your work is more than three minutes long.

Register every version of your work (e.g. radio edits and remixes), as the information PRS receive from broadcasters can often be incomplete

Each iteration of a work will be assigned a different ‘tunecode’. For example, if a radio edit version of your work not registered with PRS is broadcast, it may result in difficulties over the collection of royalties.

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When releasing your own material sign-up to MCPS, as this is separate to PRS functions

If you don’t have representation via a publisher or label you will need to look after your own PRS/MCPS administration.

If you are looking to manufacture/press your own music, you’ll need an MCPS licence for this: AP2 licence. Once this is obtained you will need to contact PRS to set-up an ‘exclusion’ to ensure that you don’t get charged for pressing your own material.

If however you are self-releasing, and a label owned by a third party is also releasing your material, then you might want to consider joining MCPS. In this instance, a member of MCPS can set up an exclusion from MCPS for the collection of royalties from the use of their works from their own record company, and MCPS will just collect royalties from any third-party controlled label.

Submitting set lists

A new online tool is now available to report set lists to PRS. This can be done via mobile or tablet and allows you to submit set lists, track the status of those already submitted, and see when set lists have been processed by PRS. Below is some advice for when doing this.

Make sure you are reporting the duration of the live performance and not the duration of the registered recording when submitting set lists

If you have a track that is three minutes on record but you play it for five minutes live, you could be due more royalties. This doesn’t apply to cases where royalties come from the Gigs, Clubs and Small Venue scheme as the royalties here would be split equally across the acts who play on the night.

Submit set lists for performances that took place overseas

PRS have reciprocal agreements with more than 100 other societies around the world, meaning you can submit overseas performance set lists and receive any royalties due.

Search for licensed venues using the PRS tool

Selecting the correct venue (and even room) that you performed in helps to ensure you receive the right amount
of royalties due.

Ensure the original writer(s) is credited when performing ‘cover’ versions of songs

When performing covers you don’t technically need to seek permission from the originator, however it is recommended that you note the songwriter(s) on the set list, as they will be due royalties from the performance of their song.

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Glossary

Some useful terms to understand when registering works with PRS or MCPS.

Active work: An active work is a song that has generated payable mechanical or performance royalties.

Mechanical right/royalty: A mechanical royalty is a royalty that is paid by a record company for the use and exploitation of a musical work.

Performing right/royalty: A performance royalty is a royalty that is paid whenever a work is used in public. These royalties are typically paid by radio stations, cafés, restaurants, and shops who must obtain PRS licences to play music.

Tunecode: A seven digit and one letter unique quotable signifier for every work on the PRS system.


For more help with understanding royalties or signing up to PRS and MCPS, visit their site at www.prsformusic.com.
Alternatively feel free to get in touch with the LCoM Enterprise Team at agency@lcm.ac.uk.

By James Warrender

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