Creating ‘functioning online market’ is an ongoing music industry battle

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Creating a ‘functioning online market’ is an ongoing battle for the music industry, PRS for Music’s chief executive has said.

Robert Ashcroft, the collecting society’s chief exec, made the comments as part of a panel exploring the future of copyright at the MUSEXPO conference.

Commenting, he said: ‘One of our priorities is to make sure that the internet has a functioning market for copyright. It’s been a long battle since Napster launched 16 years ago to make sure that the web functions properly as a market. ’

Ashcroft also stated that other challenges for PRS for Music included the forthcoming joint venture with PPL and digital transformation of the way the organisation operates.

Elsewhere, the panel, which also included Jane Dyball from the Music Publishers Association and Mike Smith, the outgoing president of Music at Virgin EMI, agreed that increases to data volumes have also led to new obstacles for the industry to overcome.

Ashcroft said: ‘The year before I joined PRS, I joined in 2009, we processed 15m lines of data – last year it was 2.5 trillion. Visa processed 100bn transactions last year – we processed 25 times as many. That’s what streaming has done to our side of the music business.

‘We’re partnering with GEMA and STIM, working with the other Nordic societies to pool our resources as there’s an awful lot of capacity needed – we don’t want to process this data many times over, we want to process them together.’

Meanwhile, Mike Smith made comments on the panel, citing A&R as the biggest challenge and opportunity for music publishers.

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