PRS license - advice please

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Julie C, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. Julie C

    Julie C New Member

    I am secretary of a band in South Devon. When we enquired previously the PRS said that as a band we did not need a license, that was up to the promotors of each event. Therefore we didn't get one.

    We are booked every year by our town council to play in their bandstand and today have written to say that the local authority have asked us to confirm that we have a PRS license and I have to sign a form. I am now concerned that we will need a licence for everything we do - especially as the local authority seems to be on the case.

    I have looked at the PRS website but it mostly concentrates on the playing of music rather then the performing of. Also I don't know how much it will cost etc.

    Any advice gratefully received

  2. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    The best advice I can give you is to telephone the PRS and discuss your particular situation.

    I was asked to investigate the position regarding my own band. We play in bandstands and concert venues such as school halls and churches. We do not own our band room but hire a village hall for rehearsals (the hall does have a PRS licence)

    Having contacted PRS I was told that we do NOT need a PRS licence, but if we owned our own practice room we would. The onus is on the owner of premises, not the performing artist, to obtain a licence.

    If your local authority is requiring you to obtain a PRS licence, I suggest that there is a jobs-worth, who doesn't actually know what they're doing, involved. Get it from the horse's mouth (the PRS) then challenge your local authority .
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2010
  3. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    We at KSB have had a PRS licence for years. Although I was gobsmacked when checking our annual accounts to discover that in 2009 we paid £148 (the year before was £53) plus we have to fill in an annual return that says what we are.

    So how many other bands pay this tax?
  4. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    From the PRS website:

    "It is the responsibility of the local authority to obtain a Music Licence for musical performances at its premises, regardless of whether the authority or a third party provides the music."

    Not sure it can be called a "tax"; as I understand it the fees paid to the PRS are disbursed to the copyright owners, publishers, composers, arrangers, etc., not to the government.
  5. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Although it is some time since I was involved with a band, at Hillingdon we had a PRS licence.

    As I understand it, bands are required to have one to cover them if they play, for example, in the street or in a park, where there are no 'premises' to be licenced.

    That said, I would have thought a municipal bandstand counts as 'premises' and could therefore have a licence.

    But phoning the PRS would definitely be the best bet for the true state of affairs. And also phone the council to ask why the bandstand has no licence.
  6. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Why? I was told unequivocally by the PRS that the licence refers to the premises for which it is issued and the responsibility lies with the owner of the premises to obtain one. From your web-site, it appears that KSB rents its rehearsal facility, so the landlord is responsible for obtaining the licence. When you perform a concert elsewhere, you should, as a matter of policy, ensure that the premises in which you are performing has a valid PRS licence in force, but it's not your responsibility to pay for one.

    I did query whether a rehearsal was actually a public performance and was told that the members of the band make up 'the public' as they hear the other players :rolleyes:, so yes it was a public performance for the purposes of the PRS.

    Firstly, it's not a tax. It is a contribution to the income of the people who create, and provide us with, the music, without which we wouldn't exist and, I cannot repeat this enough, the band only pays if it owns the premises in which the performance is taking place. Secondly, if bands are willing to stump up their hard-earned cash without checking that it's necessary, then I would think quite a few.

    However, each band will have its own set of individual circumstances and I don't think there is a 'one-size-fits-all' sort of answer. To avoid any possible difficulties in this area, rather than rely on advice from non-experts on here, ring the PRS Customer Service Centre on 0845 309 3090 or 01733 765691 to get advice pertinent to your particular circumstances.
  7. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Our renewal will be arriving shortly and I will check over exactly what its for - I always assumed it was related to our performance of music and not related to the more recent requirements for licences related to premises. As I said we have had it for years, the form asks what size band we are, what section we are and the number of performances we give each year.

    Many years ago I believe that we had to list the music we had played - anyone noticed on old music something like the following wording "if performed please include the title of this music in your annual copyright returns "?
  8. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    The PRS website is not the easiest from which to obtain specific information, however, it does state:

    "Who is responsible to PRS for Music when the premises are let? The proprietor of the premises is primarily responsible. The promoter of a musical event, and the performers themselves, all have a responsibility to ensure that no infringement of copyright occurs. However, it is PRS for Music's practice to issue its blanket licence in the first instance to the proprietors (or responsible management committees) of the premises used for public performance. Where a local authority gives permission - whether free or not - for an event that may itself be free to the public, or subsidised, it remains liable for our music used at such events (including, for example, open air concerts)."

    I would think that the last sentence covers performances in municipal parks and bandstands, as well as street processions, and puts the onus fairly and squarely on the local authority.
  9. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Once again, I'm not able to quote the 'rules' here, but instinct tells me that the PRS are wrong to tell you that rehearsal premises need a PRS licence. For them to tell you a rehearsal is a performance is ludicrous! A performance needs an audience, and band members are not audience!! PRS certainly DON'T pay fees for rehearsals and can't therefore expect licence fees to cover them. This should be challenged, I feel.

    If you extend this theory, then your parents would have to pay to listen to you practise at home - I don't see a difference.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  10. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    OK, I think I can shed some light on the situation. I have just telephoned the PRS and gleaned the following information:

    The PRS licence is in respect of 'performances', and rehearsals are NOT considered to be performances (so you're right there, Philip, and the PRS chappie I spoke to previously was wrong!). There are any number of licence tariffs, but the one which relates to brass bands performing in unlicensed premises is Tariff B, which can be seen here . This is a sliding tariff, depending on the nature of the band, the number of musicians and number of performance that would be given in unlicensed premises. It would appear that what KSB are paying for is a Tariff B licence, which covers them for performances in venues that do not already have a licence in force.

    I gave the PRS Customer Services person I have just spoken with the scenario of an amateur brass band, non-Championship, with 25 players giving 6 performances in unlicenced premises and was quoted the sum of £47.78 + vat (£56.14)

    Under these circumstances, it is up to each band to examine its concert itinerary to establish whether it needs a Tariff B licence and at what level in the scale. PRS are very happy to give advice on this. If all the venues at which performances are given are licensed, it is a waste of money to get a Tariff B licence on 'the off-chance'.
  11. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    If that were the case Philip, you'd be able to retire on the proceeds of your piece being used in the 4th section this year! By my reckoning, that's every band in the 4th section playing the piece at least twice a week for 6 weeks prior to the contest! Now there's a thought....:biggrin:
  12. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    I can't believe that hadn't crossed my mind!

    I could also stop writing and just practise my pieces all day long...........
  13. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Yep that makes sense against what we paid the year before - they sent us an invoice for twice that amount - think I will be looking for a refund. Thanks for your assistance.
  14. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    It would also be worth asking a marginally higher fee for those jobs which are in unlicensed premises (and for which the band therefore is providing the PRS licence and money).

    Am I right in thinking churches are exempt from the requirement to have any PRS licence? Or that they are at least covered by some sort of blanket church licensing scheme?
  15. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    I don't believe it is that simple. I book a larfge church in Brighton for orchestral concerts and we do indeed pay a PRS fee and the church itslef is a PRS Licences venue.

    For tjhose bands who are also members of "Making Music" it is worth checking the PRS membership they have as I know we (the orchestra) have previosuly been excluded from a PRS return in certain circumstances because of our MM membership.
  16. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    I believe music used in religious services does not attract performance royalties.
    (Enough to make you an atheist.....)

    But a concert in a church would.
  17. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    Once again, the answer is on the PRS website:

    Quote :"Religious buildings
    We do not make a charge for music used as part of divine worship. We also make no charge for music used as part of wedding ceremonies, civil wedding and partnership ceremonies, funerals or in funeral homes.

    For your convenience, Christian churches, church halls and Christian bookshops are licensed by Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) on our behalf, with charges starting from around £20. Charges are based on the size of congregation and cover the majority of music used on the premises. Large ticketed events and any church with more than 6 concerts or recitals per year may be licensed directly by PRS for Music."
  18. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    An interesting thread this one. Two questions spring to mind

    1) Are there different rules for Scotland (we like to be different)?

    2) What is the case for marching in processions e.g. Whit Friday. Its an outdoor public performance, marching in the street, so should the band or the event organisers be liable for any performance license.
  19. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Oh, and while I remember. What about that new favourite before big contests - the open rehearsal. That surely constitutes a performance.
  20. The Wherryman

    The Wherryman Active Member

    While discussions in which contributors offer their various opinions are often stimulating and enjoyable, in the case of the requirements of a PRS licence, our opinions don't really count as to what is or isn't a performance. The final arbitor is the PRS, so I would refer the Honourable Gentleman to the reply I gave earlier :-

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