PRS – Making sure the musicians get paid

13th May 2019

Andrew Hale, Service Delivery Manager at PRS

This guest piece was originally published in our Spring 2017 newsletter but is as important now as it was then.

Choosing the right music for your advert is important. Music makes an emotional impact upon people, and a well-crafted song can stick in the listener’s mind for life, making it an extremely powerful marketing tool. Think of those touching John Lewis Christmas adverts – setting those to heavy metal just wouldn’t have the same effect, no matter how cute the actors and animals were!

Getting it right can be a daunting task. Do you go for a well-known song or some classical music? What about something by an up and coming artist, or even commissioning a jingle? One thing is clear: the right music boosts an ad and can build a positive association to a brand – that’s gold dust for marketers! Whichever route you choose, surely the people who create that music deserve to be compensated correctly for it?

PRS for Music represents the rights of over 118,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK. As a membership organisation we ensure creators are paid whenever their music is played, performed or reproduced. In a nutshell we use the licence fee paid to us by the broadcasters to make quarterly distributions to our members when their music is used. However we can only do this accurately if we have the correct reporting.

We receive a daily feed of new commercials from Clearcast, and transmission details of these commercials from broadcasters. The two sets of data are then linked using the clock number.

Because of the huge volumes of data, PRS has to trust that the information we are being sent is correct. At the moment we spot check a handful of adverts on CopyCentral for quality control purposes – making sure all the necessary information has been completed correctly, and sometimes listening to the advert in question to confirm the reporting. However we can’t do this for all 36,000 separate commercials.

We have recently introduced a more automated quality tool for the programme reporting we receive from TV and Radio stations which means we have increased our quality control capabilities. We will be rolling this out to more of our workstreams, including commercials, in the near future. Getting the right data in is essential to making accurate and efficient distributions, and there are a few bits of key information that PRS needs to ensure this happens:  

Filling out forms is no-one’s idea of fun, but when those forms are essential to make sure someone receives a payment – someone who has helped make your creation successful – then it’s important to get it right. By taking care to input the right data into CopyCentral you are helping PRS for Music send accurate royalties to the right people, and the composers can afford to keep on making beautiful music to help you sell your brands.