By Emmanuel Legrand
The coronavirius pandemic will “impact royalty collections in 2020 and into 2021, and — I would not be surprised — into 2022.” This sobering statement came from Andrea Martin, CEO of PRS for Music, in her virtual keynote at the Global Music Publishing Summit organised by the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP).
During her speech, the CEO of PRS for Music sketched how the Covid crisis could transform the industry. Martin said that at the start of the year, PRS for Music was in a position of strength, with solid revenue growth in 2019, and the highest ever distribution for the first quarter. “No one could have predicted these events and their impact on our revenues,” said Martin. “Music faces unprecedented times with TV and film on hold, and the cancellation of festivals and live events.”
For Martin, these events will lead to “a drop in royalties” and societies will have to “make efforts to reduce costs as well as improve efficiencies.” That said, Martin noted that while it was important to look at cost savings, it was equally important “to make sure we invest in the future” to build “a new modern and forward-thinking PRS.”
Data at the heart of the organisation
“The coronavirus will accelerate the move to a more digital world,” she predicted, forcing collective management societies to become even more agile to deal with the new environment. “More new services coming into the market and see new license opportunities with the increasing move to streaming and new platforms such as Twitch, Zoom and TikTok.”
For societies like PRS for Music, the challenge is to keep pace with the pressures of managing data in the digital world. “Managing data is at the heart of our organisation,” said Martin, who added that PRS's aim is “to improve the management of data and seek opportunities to offer services and more accurate and faster distribution.”
One of the tools to achieve that goal, she said, is ICE, the joint venture with Germany's GEMA and Sweden's STIM to manage and administer pan-European online licenses. “ICE is an industry game changer, delivering year on year royalty increases to our members,” she said. Noting that ICE is processing trillions of lines of data, continuous investment in systems and resources is paramount to keep pace with the proliferation of data. “ICE has invested more time and resource on processing, we are on the right tracks, and we are committed to it,” she said.