Question for UK PRS/ASCAP members

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  • #23689 Reply

    I’ve been a member of PRS for a while but after receiving an email off
    Audiosparx last August which mentioned certain territories would be ruled out for Radiosparx, unless I was a member of ASCAP, I sent my
    application/cheque off right away. I never heard anything back (like
    getting an actual member number etc) but started getting ASCAP member
    emails so assumed I was now a member.

    The trouble is they never gave me my 9 digit number. So I called the ASCAP office here in the UK and was told I couldn’t get that number unless I resigned from PRS, or more specifically “resigned the US territories”.

    Can anyone shed any light on this? Like give me some advice on the best course of action? I don’t want to rush into doing anything and then find out later that I didn’t need to…

    Thanks in advance, Steve

    #23690 Reply

    Who is the designated collection society for the PRS in the US? If it is ASCAP then it is the sole collection agent, so no need to resign from the PRS or join ASCAP . Go to the ASCAP website and search for your name, if it’s there you will see your PRS CAE no.

    #23692 Reply

    Hi Guys,

    It’s actually a bit more complicated than that. The reason we have prior to now recommended moving your PRO affiliation strictly to a US PRO (and discontinuing with your non-US PRO) is because the US societies permit direct licensing, whereas the European PROs have historically not permitted it.

    However, there is a new VERY IMPORTANT European Directive concerning how the music societies in Europe are required to conduct themselves. This affects both composer/author/lyricist societies as well as artist/performer/producer societies as well. This new directive, which was issued in 2014, is scheduled to take full effect on April 10, 2016.

    This new directive (link here: mandates that European societies MUST allow rightholders (i.e you) to remove any category of rights from your society that you wish to control yourself, such as for example, licensing music for use as commercial background music in our RadioSparx web site. And you can leave the rest of the categories of rights that you wish for the society to manage with the society.

    Long story short, for our European composers and artists, this directive has the effect of now allowing you to simultaneously participate in the statutory licensing services that the societies provide (for TV/Film/Commercial broadcast performance royalties, etc.), while also participating in the direct licensing services that we offer worldwide via RadioSparx, including our licensing within Europe. Hence, there is now no longer a need for you to move your PRO affiliation to the US.

    This is all very new, and is pending transposition into local law within each country, however, we believe that there is no reason that you cannot immediately request such a withdrawal of “specific categories of rights”
    We ask that our European artists and composers immediately now notify your society that you wish to participate in our direct-licensed commercial background music service (RadioSparx) and ask them which category of rights it is that you need to remove from the society to make this possible.

    We are hoping that, as a result of this new directive, the European societies will adjust themselves now to function in the same way that the US societies do, to permit their statutory licensing to operate in tandem and in parallel with your own direct licensing. If they do this, it will allow for a much more harmonious marketplace and start to eliminate the on-going wars that the European society’s current monopolistic exclusive-control stance is perpetuating.

    For any of you that try this “rights withdrawal” from any European societies, please send us an email to [email protected] and let us know what your experience is like.


    Lee Johnson
    [email protected]

    #23697 Reply

    Wow, thanks for the reply Lee! I really appreciate you taking the time to explain things so fully. I’ll get onto PRS tomorrow and let you know how it goes.


    #34015 Reply
    Per Boysen

    Lee’s excellent post is four years old now. Do we have any recent new information on these matters?

    #34020 Reply

    Hi Per,

    The societies in Europe continue to be the most confrontational in the world. They actively work to deprive composers and artists of the ability to directly control your commerce via direct licensing. In our opinion, the society system, insofar as in-store music is concerned, is a worldwide criminal cartel. This is especially true in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. They lie, deceive, threaten, coerce, and worse. Even so, we continue to make progress against them, step by step, through SUBSTANTIAL legal research and pushback against their unlawful attempts to monopolize this part of the music business.

    Long story short, the in-store music business is not for the timid or weak.



    #34024 Reply

    #34025 Reply

    The societies in Europe continue to be the most confrontational in the world. They actively work to deprive composers and artists of the ability to directly control your commerce via direct licensing.

    From the TV broadcast perspective Lee GEMA and BUMA/ STERMA pay very well for broadcast usages. I am starting to wonder if “Direct Licensing” is a friend or an enemy? Look at the Discovery and Scripps nightmare we are all dealing with. In these instances Blanket Direct Licensing is screwing writers over every day. Libraries are making money off these deals, but contributing writers are not. So as a Stock Music Site operator, what do you suggest be done to solve this problem? PRO’s exist to protect writers and publishers and see to it that we’re paid royalties for public performances. This includes retail shops, TV networks, radio stations, stadiums, bars, restaurants, streaming, airplanes, stadiums, theme parks, and so on. I’d say at this point it is in our interests that PRO’s, along with governments, morph into militant mafia to shake down and mandate that these places of business listed above all pay license fees to our PRO’s so writers and publishers can get paid for every air date and stream. Longer Story Shorter – if Direct Licensing becomes the flavor of the new decade and PRO’s can be easily bypassed, this will become a huge threat to writers’ ability to earn a livable wage.

    #34026 Reply

    I used to think that the society system would be so benevolent and just. However, multiple societies have been either banned from the system or have been suspended for a year or longer due to substantial unlawful and/or unethical conduct. For example, SGAE (Spain) is on a yearlong suspension now. AEPI (Greece) was terminated completely. There are other examples. We and our resellers have won multiple court battles against societies for unlawful conduct over the past 8 years.

    The societies definitely do much better for tracking and paying royalties for TV/film uses. However, for in-store music, in general they do not track and pay the composers whose music was actually played. Instead, they use an arcane payout formula that is based on whoever they deem to be the “top artists” based on radio play stats and in-concert performances within the country, which means their payouts for in-store music are heavily slanted towards major label artists. It’s not a huge surprise considering that executives from major labels sit on the board of directors for most societies.

    So, while it would be great if things functioned the way you imagine, the reality is not so. The societies’ operating procedures are completely unfair to independent artists and composers and serve only to enrich major labels and their artists and to distort the marketplace and deprive independent artists/composers of meaningful participation in in-store music earnings. Think about it, your music gets played, but somebody else other than you gets paid. How is that even fair?

    We are already doing what we can to solve the problem by providing direct-licensed service via RadioSparx, to allow the artists and composers we represent to actually get compensated for the in-store use of their valuable music.

    #34027 Reply

    Thank you Lee for that explanation! Much appreciated!

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