The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #87321   Message #1629334
Posted By: treewind
17-Dec-05 - 05:16 AM
Thread Name: PRS at it again!!
Subject: RE: PRS at it again!!
I'm with you both about payment for the performance.

Personally I don't think the PRS should be charging any venue a licence fee if the musicians and singers are unpaid for whatever they do. That automatically covers trying an instrument out in a shop, and it covers pub sessions and folk clubs that are singers clubs only, and in the case of a club that has booked guests and floor singers the licence fee should be proportional to the amount of paid entertainment (i.e. booked guests) vs. unpaid.

Behind this is a fundamental principle of what the PRS is supposed to be about, and I hope George, as a songwriter, will agree with me:
If you've written a song and someone else makes money by singing it at gigs, it's reasonable that you as the writer get some reward for providing the singer with (part of) the means of making his income. But if another singer performs your song at an unpaid session, he is not benefiting materially and it's not reasonable for the PRS to make a claim on your behalf.

The PRS doesn't seem to agree with this, and treats any public performance, paid or not, the same. Even more bizarrely, it DOES make a distinction between public and private performances.

So if I book Joe Soap for £1000 to sing some of George's songs at my daughter's wedding party (a private, if very hypothetical, event) the PRS don't seem to think George deserves anything for the trouble of writing the material used, yet if Jim Spriggs sings the same songs in a session, (no pay, no entrance fee), the PRS expect the venue to pay a licence fee.

As I understand it, some prominent songwriters seem to agree with this, and might even challenge the PRS (who are providing a service for them) for wasting their money trying to investigate and police unpaid sessions. But apart from that there's a general lack of motivation for most PRS members to lobby the organisation to change things.

Their excuse on the private gigs is that it's difficult to enforce.