Music data should not become ‘part of an arms race’, says PRS CEO

prs ceo robert ashcroft

Music royalty organisations should come together to collaborate on improving quality and accuracy of song data, rather than compete against each other, PRS for Music chief executive Robert Ashcroft has said.

Addressing PRS members and the wider industry at the society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), he said that sharing intelligence and working together are essential to ensuring ‘the right people are paid the right money as fast and accurately as possible’.

As recorded music returns to growth, it has attracted both venture capital and private equity investors, Ashcroft explained.

‘Music properties, companies servicing, or owning musical assets and rights, are once again fashionable acquisition targets’ he continued.

‘This will not divert us from our true purpose, which is ensuring maximum value at all times for our members’ works. We are proudly competitive but not-for-profit. We believe in both collective management and governance by members.

‘We must, however, continue to invest and we must continue to collaborate, for it is the quality of service that we provide to our members that will determine our success; being not for profit allows us to collaborate where for-profit entities are obliged to compete and this means we can capture opportunities they cannot.’

Ashcroft went on to say that better data and more accurate matching are the ‘fruit of collaboration rather than competition’ and that data ‘should not be part of an arms race’.

He noted the organisation’s recent partnership with PPL, explaining that, following an initial project to replace the companies’ IT systems, it became clear that only a ‘full joint venture would allow us to extract maximum benefit for members and licensees alike’.

‘We are not the first to join forces between the management of copyright and master rights, but this will be the largest joint venture of its kind in the world and is the result of three years of collaboration,’ he said.

The PRS AGM took place at the British Library, London, on 24 May 2017. Learn who was newly elected to the PRS board.