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Collection society PRS for Music said revenue generated from live performances of music fell £42.7m in 2020 from £54m the previous year to just £11.3m – a 79.1% decline.

The pandemic saw the vast majority of live music activity come to a standstill last year. PRS said that of the £11.3m it collected, most related to live music events staged towards the end of 2019 and in the first quarter of 2020, including concerts from The 1975, Stereophonics, Mabel and Madonna’s UK tour, where PRS members’ repertoire featured prominently.

Public performance revenue overall, which, as well as live music events, includes music used in business premises, shops, cinemas, pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants, saw a significant 61.2% (£136m) downturn in revenue collected year-on-year, to £86.2m in 2020, again due to business closure.

PRS said revenue generated from music played online was the only area to see growth in 2020, rising to £188.3m, a 5.1% (£9.1m) uplift compared to 2019. As well as increased revenues collected, distributions from online also saw the biggest uplift at 63.2% compared to 2019.

Despite the dramatic decline in live performance revenue, the organisation that represents the rights of over 155,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, distributed a record £699.4m to its members in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 2% (£13.4m).

However, the impact of Covid-19 saw total revenues decline by 19.7% (£159.9m) to £650.5m overall, prompting warnings of a difficult year ahead.

PRS for Music CEO Andrea Czapary Martin said,  “Composers and songwriters have relied more than ever on their PRS royalties in 2020. The increased distributions announced today, set against the most challenging of years, represents a significant achievement for PRS for Music.

“The increase, driven by growth in online revenues, cannot alone negate the immense loss of income and harm on the whole music industry, and the livelihoods of those within it, in 2020. This year will be similarly challenging, as the dramatic fall in revenues during the last year will be reflected in declining distributions throughout 2021.

“As we look forward, reopening of the live sector must be a priority, while the repercussions of Brexit will become clearer through new limitations on touring outside of the UK.”