PRS for Music, the U.K. collecting society that represents composers and publishers, announced Monday (April 24) that it collected a record-high 964 million pounds ($1.20 billion) in 2022, a 22.9% increase over the previous year and an 18.9% increase over the previous high of 810 million pounds reached in 2019. The organization also distributed a record 836.2 million pounds ($1.04 billion) in 2022, an increase of 23.5% over 2021, while reducing its cost ratio to 9.3%.
“Live revenue came back,” says PRS for Music CEO Andrea Czapary Martin — up 683% from 2021 as the concert business rallied after the worst of the pandemic, and 16.1% compared to 2019. “At the same time, we saw a huge increase in music streaming — 25% — that exceeds market growth.”
PRS for Music is not the only collecting society that’s doing well as live music returns and streaming continues to thrive: In early March, ASCAP announced a 14% increase in collections to $1.52 billion and three weeks ago the German rights body GEMA posted 13% growth to 1.178 billion pounds ($1.25 billion).
Even by those standards, PRS’ results are impressive, although currency fluctuations and differences in accounting make exact comparisons between international collecting societies difficult. And it is rare to see a cost ratio below 10% for a society that collects for publishers and songwriters. PRS says it hit its goal to get its cost ratio below 10% four years ahead of its five-year plan.
“I run this like a commercial company, except we’re owned by the members and profits are distributed to our members,” says Martin, who joined PRS in mid-2019. Martin, a newcomer to the music business, worked for a variety of data- and subscription-focused businesses, including Reader’s Digest Association and the U.K. Royal Mail. “My background,” she says, “is in tech and data.”
Other highlights of 2022 include new and renewed licenses — “better agreements and new agreements,” Martin says. Revenue from video-on-demand services rose 16.5%, while that of linear television declined 2.4% and commercial radio, driven by advertising, grew 2.6%. “A TikTok agreement paid out last year,” Martin says, “and we doubled video game royalties.”
ICE, the Berlin-based music licensing hub that PRS owns as a joint venture with GEMA and Sweden’s STIM, is also “helping PRS immensely,” Martin says. “ICE is the biggest growth opportunity for PRS.” Expansion elsewhere is also a priority, Martin says, including in Africa.
PRS, like most of its sister societies, has a monopoly over U.K. collections — at concert venues, bars and restaurants, for example. Starting a few years ago, though, it also competes to represent composers and publishers online, to streaming services. ICE gives PRS the reach and resources to compete with SACEM. And PRS’ push toward efficiency gives it a solid competitive position.
“I’m very optimistic for the future,” Martin says. “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges.”