Guitarist Robert Fripp Sues UK’s PRS For Music: Small Artists Fight Big Music Monopoly

In a groundbreaking move, Robert Fripp, renowned guitarist of King Crimson, is suing the UK-based PRS for Music over what he describes as “preferential conditions” that only benefit stadium-sized artists. This legal battle highlights the growing disparity between how PRS treats smaller artists compared to their larger counterparts, a situation that has drawn significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic.

PRS for Music, the organization responsible for handling playback and performance rights for artists, imposes a hefty 23% administration fee on gig royalties for smaller artists. In stark contrast, larger artists only face a meager 0.2% fee. With the notoriously low payouts from Spotify streams, many artists depend on live gigs to sustain their creativity. However, these high administration fees by PRS make it increasingly difficult for smaller artists to thrive.

The lawsuit, spearheaded by Pace Rights Management, includes other notable claimants such as The Jesus and Mary Chain and several other smaller artists. They argue that the current system forces smaller artists to subsidize the larger ones, who enjoy significantly lower fees thanks to PRS’s Major Live Concert Service. This results in smaller artists paying 115 times more than those at the top of the musical hierarchy.

Pace co-founder Adam Elfin criticizes the unfair system, stating, “The smaller PRS members are subsidizing the larger members to get these preferential conditions.” According to Billboard, the claimants are seeking damages for what they describe as “unnecessary contractual requirements and practices.” These practices allegedly include numerous “unreasonable” obstacles for those wishing to organize their own licensing deals with promoters, venues, or festivals outside of PRS.

This lawsuit marks a significant moment for smaller artists who have long felt marginalized by the current music industry system. As the legal battle unfolds, it may bring about much-needed changes in how performance royalties are administered, ensuring a fairer distribution of fees across the board. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for the music industry, not only in the UK but also for artists worldwide who are watching closely.

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