Gig promoters warn of price hike

image captionBritish music fans spent £1.45bn on tickets for gigs and festivals in 2009

Concert and festival promoters have warned that ticket prices could go up as songwriters consider requesting a greater share of live music takings.

Currently, 3% of all gig ticket money goes to PRS For Music, which passes it on to writers and composers.

It is reviewing that rate, saying it needs to ensure a "fair balance" between music fans and creators.

Melvin Benn, who runs the Reading, Leeds and Latitude festivals, described it as "blatant money-grabbing".

With VAT also rising by 2.5%, Mr Benn, who runs Festival Republic, said the cost of an average festival ticket would go up by about £10.

Songwriters are already benefiting from the live music scene because attendances and ticket prices have gone up so much in recent years, he argued.

UK fans spent £1.45bn on gigs and festivals in 2009, compared with less than £1bn in 2004.

"The quantum leap in what the PRS are being paid by live music promoters is very, very substantial compared to what it was 10 years ago," Mr Benn told BBC News.

"Live music is so much stronger than it was, and therefore the receipts the PRS are getting are substantially more than they were.

"Instead of being pleased with that and wanting to work with us, they want to punish us and just take more. The reality is that will only result in additional costs to the ticket-buyer and that's killing the goose that laid the golden egg."

PRS For Music has opened a consultation on the fee, which was last set in 1988, and has not revealed its preferred rate for the future.

It may introduce tiered rates, with bigger events paying more, and attempt to introduce a levy on secondary ticket agents and booking fees. It may also bring in a different fee for mixed arts festivals, where music is one of many attractions.

Stuart Littlewood, chairman of the Concert Promoters Association, said: "We don't yet know what they're asking for but any increase would be most unwelcome.

"At the end of the day, it's the public who would be paying because the promoters would have to pass the increase on to the public.

"We're already going to have to pass the VAT increase on. So tickets next year are going to be more expensive than they are this year because of these unnecessary increases."

'Massive change'

PRS For Music's Debbie Mulloy said: "It's been over 20 years since we last reviewed this tariff and it's part of a general review of all our tariffs.

"This is one sector where there have been massive amounts of change and we felt a good review was required to make sure everything was still fair and reasonable."

The rate would not necessarily increase, she said. "There's no foregone conclusion here. It's not as simple as saying we want the rate to be higher. There are a number of things we have to assess."

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