Monday, 17 December 2007

PRS

We were away for the weekend, but waiting for me in the post was the latest distribution from the PRS (the Performing Rights Society). This inestimable body attempts to provide composers with some sort of recompense when their works are performed. If you are commissioned for a new work then, of course, you'll get the commissioning fee but if a group decides simply to perform on of your works whose music is available, then no fee is forthcoming. Instead, performing groups and venues pay a fee to the Performing Rights Society and the society attempts to divide the indivisible and spread these monies around all of the performed composers.

Inevitably live performances of contemporary classical music provides quite a small branch of the market and you would hardly get rich on royalties from these performances unless you were really prolific. Nonetheless it is heartening that such payments are made, recognising as they do the investment of time and effort that a composer puts into a piece and preserving the on-going link between performer and work.

After all, if an artist paints a picture and it is sold, the artist loses any commercial interest in the work if it is sold one (though I believe reproduction rights for the image are different). So someone could have pictures changing hands and being displayed without ever being aware of the fact or benefiting from it in any way.

Naturally, for a composer it is in the area of broadcast royalties and mechanical copyright protection that the larger fees are available. But live performance is the basic fabric of our art and the PRS ensures that we get some little recognition.

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