Business News Labels & Publishers Top Stories

PRS confirms over-payment email to members is genuine

By | Published on Monday 16 April 2018

PRS For Music

PRS For Music has confirmed that an email alerting some of the UK collecting society’s members that they have been overpaid is genuine.

Live royalties paid out to some PRS members last week that had been collected under the Gigs And Clubs scheme were too high, resulting in an email going out to affected members requesting that the overpayment be returned. Some members then questioned if the email was real, concerned that it could be a scam.

PRS represents the performing rights of its members’ songs and collects whenever those rights are exploited, including from live performances of said works. The society then passes the collected royalties onto its members each quarter.

It’s not known why royalties linked to the Gigs And Clubs Scheme – which covers small shows in grassroots venues – were miscalculated on the latest distribution run, in some cases paying out sums ten times higher than intended.

It was reported by Glasgow Live that PRS members who also work for the society spotted the error at the last minute, after noticing over-payments on their own accounts. Although a PRS spokesperson told CMU that this was not the case. Either way, once the error was noticed, it was too late to stop the royalty distribution from going out, so emails were sent to affected members to coincide with payments arriving in their bank accounts.

The apologetic email told affected members that an error had resulted in overpayment and then requested that the sum that had been overpaid be returned. A number of PRS members took to social media to question whether the email was genuine or if it was scam designed to defraud money out of grassroots songwriters. The society’s verified Twitter account stated numerous times “we can confirm that we did email you yesterday”.

PRS has also confirmed to CMU that the emails about over-payments are genuine. A spokesperson said: “We recently highlighted an issue to a small number of our members regarding the calculation of their live performance royalties, taking immediate steps to inform them as soon as we were able to. Unfortunately, the discovery of the issue happened at a point in our distribution process where we were unable to recall it. Our membership team were in contact with the affected members to explain the situation ahead of royalties arriving in their accounts, and we are sincerely sorry for and regret the inconvenience this has caused them”.

Meanwhile Vick Bain, CEO of the British Academy Of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, said to CMU about the error: “This is a pain for writers and I would be disappointed if this error had affected me personally. PRS For Music technically have one job to do, and that is to make timely and accurate royalty payments to its members. However we live in an imperfect world and sometimes mistakes happen, especially given the sheer complexity of the job PRS increasingly have to do”.

She goes on: “How they go about communicating with members when such occurrences happen is critical. The letters that went out to the affected writers requested that they transfer the money back to PRS, which they are perfectly entitled to do – it is in their membership rules that they can reclaim monies given in error. However these letters appear to have caused suspicion because nowadays anyone asking for money and giving bank account details makes people immediately think it is a scam”.

Bain concludes: “I hope PRS can reassure writers this has been a genuine error and resolve this issue with the writers concerned quickly and compassionately. And then they need to build up trust again in ensuring and delivering to the high standards demanded of them”.

UPDATED 16 Apr 1.06pm: Amended to include further information from PRS For Music