York online gigs halted after national body demands ‘unworkable’ payments

29 Jan 2021 @ 8.07 am
| Entertainment

York music fans were left disappointed last night after live online gigs were postponed in protest against an ‘unworkable’ demand for royalty payments.

Two shows due to be broadcast live from the Fulford Arms for Independent Venue Week were postponed at the last minute.

Both gigs this week, one featuring performance poet Katie Greenbrown and stalwart of the York music scene, Boss Caine – alias Daniel Lucas, and another featuring @Cowgirl, have been pulled.

It follows the decision of  PRS for Music to impose a new ‘tax’ – which means promoters must obtain a licence costing £45 plus VAT for any small-scale online gig.

PRS collects royalties for musicians. Chris Sherrington of the Fulford Arms said it was right that songwriters are paid for their work, but the new payments were unviable.

The decision to postpone the shows was “done with the support of all the artists involved and the broadcast platform and the decision has not been made lightly,” he said.

“We have collectively decided to take a stand of solidarity against the announcement yesterday, from PRS, of a completely unworkable tariff for online live streams which is not fit for purpose and has not been consulted on.”

Industry ‘on its knees’

Katie Greenbrown was due to perform

Daniel Lucas criticised the PRS for its new streaming tariff, saying it had undertaken several “ridiculous moves”.

“The latest of which basically involves them wanting a chunk of the livestream revenue and have essentially created their own enforced role in the procedure to ensure a slice of the pie.

“The problem being that it was not only done when the industry was on its knees and fighting for its life with very limited options, but it was done without consulting anybody of worth, without any consideration for the situation, and with immediate effect.”

He added: “Times are hard across the board. It is important that we stand up for the events industry now. That musicians and venue staff stand together.”

Chris added: “We hope that we will be able to broadcast these shows soon and all tickets will remain valid for the shows – although we understand if you would like a refund at this time as things are hard and money is tight.

“We just wish that PRS understood this as well.”

A PRS spokesperson told the Guardian it was not “seeking to prevent artists, many of whom are PRS members, from generating an income from online concerts”, but to ensure that non-performing members such as songwriters and composers “can share in the value being generated by online live concerts which are using their works”.