singer-songwriter roxanne de bastion re-elected; horn player david lee elected as performer directors at ppl’s annual performer meeting 2022

de Bastion and Lee will sit alongside PPL’s four other Performer Directors:  Jackie Davidson MBE, Hannah Joseph,  Peter Thoms and Horace Trubridge. The six Performer Directors sit on both PPL’s main board (alongside directors from both major and independent record companies) and its dedicated Performer Board. A full list of PPL Board Directors can be found here.

The APM was also an opportunity to highlight PPL’s successful performance last year for the benefit of its performer members, as well as touching on more recent developments and future plans.  As part of this, PPL Chief Executive Officer Peter Leathem presented the company’s positive 2021 financial results to its performer members. As first reported at the PPL AGM earlier in the year, PPL’s total revenues reached £252.8 million in 2021 – a £27.1 million (12%) increase on 2020. All three revenue streams – International, Broadcast and online, and Public performance and dubbing – grew year-on-year, with International and Broadcast and online licensing revenues delivering record annual amounts. A record number of performers and recording rightsholders were also paid – more than 146,500 received at least one payment in 2021, an increase of 12,000 (9%) on 2020. Further details of these financial results can be found in PPL’s Annual Performer Review 2021.

The meeting also included an address from Chair John Smith OBE and presentations from Chief Membership & People Officer Kate Reilly and Director of International Laurence Oxenbury.  The results of the Performer Director election were announced by PPL’s General Counsel and Company Secretary, David Harmsworth.

Peter Leathem, Chief Executive Officer at PPL, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the incomes of many artists and musicians in the UK and around the world, and now, with the current economic climate, many are facing further challenges. The £252.8 million we collected in 2021 is the second highest revenue total in our history and reflects the capability of PPL to maximise the revenue our members are due for the use of their recordings, so delivering a valuable, regular source of income in this tough economic climate.

I am delighted to see Roxanne de Bastion re-elected to our board, and to welcome David Lee – congratulations to them both. I would also like to thank Peter Lale and David Stopps for standing in the election, both of whom received a commendable level of support from performers.  As David now steps down as a PPL director, I would also like to express my appreciation for all his support, engagement and expertise over his time on the board, and your unwavering commitment to performers’ rights.”

2022 APM Speech – Peter Leathem, Chief Executive Officer, PPL

“I am pleased to report that 2021 was a positive financial year for PPL. We were able to grow our total revenue by £27.1 million – an increase of 12% on the previous year – to reach £252.8 million, with growth across each of our three main revenue streams. The 2021 result was still 7% lower than the pre-pandemic level reached in 2019, but in 2021 we were certainly on the road to recovery and are expecting further growth in 2022. Operating costs for the year were £32.5 million which, at 12.9% of revenue, represent, as far as we are aware, the lowest cost-to-revenue ratio in PPL’s 88 year history.

I would like to take a brief look at each of PPL’s revenue streams, starting with public performance and dubbing, which is the part of our business that we manage via our joint venture company, PPL PRS Ltd.  This is a high-volume business where we license hundreds of thousands of UK establishments for their use of music – and this was where we saw the biggest impact from COVID-19 back in 2020.  In that year, there was a 42% decline in revenue due to the restrictions on many businesses that were unable to open let alone play music, which, in turn, impacted our public performance licensing revenue.

In 2021 though, we were pleased to see some recovery, despite continued restrictions and closures across many industry sectors. Total public performance and dubbing revenues reached £72.1 million, reflecting 25% growth on 2020.

To achieve this, and through PPL PRS Ltd, we worked closely with licensees as they – and indeed we – navigated through continued periods of closure. We offered deferred licence renewal dates, extended payment plans for Direct Debit agreements, and offered credits for periods of closure due to government enforced lockdowns. As the UK reopened gradually for business, we adapted and varied our engagement strategy with licensees right across the country as we were mindful that not everything could open up all at once and not every business was subject to the same rules across the UK.

We saw significant growth in specific sectors, such as supermarkets and warehouses, who saw how music could enhance their environments for employees and customers. We also secured new licences from well-known high street retailers, which reinforces the important work being undertaken to promote the role of music in public places.

Public performance collections are currently performing well, but we are aware of the pressures facing the hospitality industry in the coming months and into next year. There is still uncertainty regarding the impact of these external factors, but we will adapt accordingly.

In terms of our radio, TV and online broadcast licensing revenues in 2021 reached £86.7 million, which was a 5% increase on 2020. A key success in the year, and the main driver for the overall growth, was our commercial radio revenue.  These revenues took a hit in 2020 when advertising in this sector dropped during the early part of the pandemic and PPL’s commercial radio revenue subsequently fell. However, 2021 saw revenue recover to a much greater extent than anticipated, with a 21% increase during the year pushing commercial radio revenues ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

Revenues from the BBC, commercial television and online licensing remained relatively stable in 2021, owing to some of the existing multi-year agreements in place with major broadcasters. In addition to this, a number of new services and platforms such as Mixcloud and Sonos were licensed, all of which contributed to a strong overall result during the year for broadcast and online.

In addition to success in our UK licensing, we also saw a record performance in our international collections.  Revenues in 2021 reached £94 million, which represented our best year since our service started over 15 years ago and is over 9% up on the level achieved in 2020.

As you will hear later from Laurence Oxenbury, our Director of International, PPL collects significantly more international neighbouring rights revenue than anyone else – a fact which I believe is the result of our extensive industry knowledge, our IT, data and technical expertise, the close working relationships we enjoy with CMOs around the world, and the improvements made in the quality and exchange of recording metadata, allowing us to pay more performers and recording rightsholders with each year that passes.

Indeed, last year, from all of our revenue streams combined, we paid £228.7 million to more than 146,500 performers and recording rightsholders – the highest number we have ever paid in a calendar year 133,291 of these were performers, either of PPL or of another CMO.

This past year has also seen us increase the number of CMOs to whom we provide back-office support through our Business Services offer. With our leading technology, we continued to help CMOs in Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania, Malaysia, Portugal, and Switzerland with the calculation of royalties to be paid to performers and recording rightsholders. We were delighted earlier this year to sign a five-year agreement with SFH in Iceland to support them with the distribution of royalties to performers and recording rightsholders based outside of the country, thereby helping them to pay out more money. This follows our agreement with Jamaican CMO JAMMS in 2021, which sees us collect international revenues for their members via our 105 agreements with CMOs around the world, helping money better flow back into the country’s music industry.

We will continue to focus on international opportunities for growth and, with the UK now outside of the EU, PPL has been supporting the music industry’s lobbying efforts concerning the various international trade deals the UK has been seeking. This has included a new Free Trade Agreement reached between the UK and New Zealand that covered a commitment by the New Zealand government to extend copyright terms by 20 years for authors, performers and producers. This followed new post-Brexit deals with Australia and Japan. The Australian deal included a commitment to discuss measures to ensure adequate remuneration for music performers and producers  whilst the Japanese agreement featured an obligation to explore public performance rights for sound recordings – currently there are no such rights in Japan for sound recordings.

Speaking of our policy engagement, the DCMS Committee inquiry into the economics of music streaming called me to appear before the Committee in 2021. During questioning I summarised the role of PPL in paying performers and recording rightsholders and sought to answer their questions as best I could. Following the wide-ranging recommendations of the Committee, I have now joined the Government-convened steering group with others from across the music industry. Through this group we are working with the UK Intellectual Property Office as they investigate matters in further detail ahead of the UK Government deciding what, if any, recommendations from the Committee should be pursued, such as whether or not there should be an equitable remuneration right for performers from on-demand streaming services. This work is currently ongoing and, as flagged in last week’s DCMS committee session, outcomes and next steps will start to be announced in early 2023.

At the heart of what has contributed to PPL’s success in this past year are three core assets – our technology, our partners and our people. I would like to take a moment to address each one of these.

PPL is a leader in recorded music data management, a role of utmost importance in ensuring money flows accurately and efficiently around the global music market. Our technology allows the processing of millions of lines of rights data and billions of recording uses. Our repertoire database holds performer and recording rightsholder details on over 20 million recordings, with, on average, 45,000 track details being added each week.

In the past year, we began the Usage Hub project – a significant undertaking to move the management of recording usage data to the latest cost-effective cloud technologies. The project aims to standardise and highly automate the processes PPL uses to load and manage the tens of thousands of usage files we receive from broadcasters, dubbers and CMOs each year. Once fully complete, it will enable quicker and more efficient processing of usage, and the team are already seeing some early benefits in loading commercial radio and CMO usage data.

We innovate not only internally, but also in partnership with others in our sector. In 2021, we launched a collaboration with music preservation and archiving company VEVA Sound’s new file and data-sharing platform VEVA Collect, making it easier for performers to be properly credited on recordings and to receive payments they are entitled to. This follows similar partnerships with Creative Passport, Session and Sound Credit.

This brings me neatly onto our partners – the organisations and companies with whom we work to ensure we serve our members, licensees, employees and the wider music industry in the best way possible.

Continuing on the theme of data, we were one of the first parties to back the Credits Due campaign established by The Ivors Academy and the Music Rights Awareness Foundation, which was launched by CISAC President and ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus at last year’s Ivor Novello Awards. It is an important initiative which has the potential to raise the quality of metadata circulating around the industry by supporting the effective capturing of artist credits at the point of creation.

Last year also saw PPL provide further support and hardship funding to help organisations continue to operate during challenging times. We made a second donation to the MMF’s Re:Build Fund to support UK-based artist managers who did not qualify for existing COVID-19 support packages. A further donation was made to Stagehand’s COVID-19 Crew Relief Fund, which went to supporting live music and event crews whose earnings had been impacted by the pandemic.

In the field of health and wellbeing, we donated £100,000 to Music Minds Matter, the 24/7 mental health support line that is mostly funded by Help Musicians. You may have seen that Music Minds Matter transitioned last month to become a single-focus charity, separate to but set up and sustained by Help Musicians, to support the mental health of all who work in music across the UK. I am delighted that our own Deputy Chief People Officer Juliette Edwards is on the charity’s first ever Board of Trustees, helping to drive awareness of mental health challenges in the music industry and improving access to the necessary mental health support. The charity’s helpline is staffed by accredited therapists who can refer musicians to deeper therapeutic support via the charity’s long-standing clinical partner, the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine – BAPAM – of which I am Chair.

BAPAM provides a vital and growing service to the music industry and wider performing arts sectors, helping performers overcome physical and mental health problems related to their creative practice. A testament to the charity’s work is that 82% of patients seen in 2020 were back to performing in 2021. I would like to thank Claire Cordeaux and her team – as well as James Ainscough and his colleagues at Help Musicians – for the work they all do.

Finally, I would like to focus on the people who are critical to the success of PPL.

All of PPL’s achievements are underpinned by our 200 employees and their knowledge, expertise, drive, passion and commitment. I would like to say a massive thank you to the PPL team for all that we achieved together last year.

I would also like to recognise their openness with myself and the Executive Management Team in this past year as we have sought – like many others across the industry – to understand the needs, challenges and opportunities which we must embrace to make music a better place for all to work, regardless of one’s background.

Thank you to the members of our Diversity Forum for their input, their ideas and the impact they are having, and to those who have supported myself and my colleagues on this journey, including Ammo Talwar MBE and Paulette Long OBE who head up the UK Music Diversity Taskforce.

We have published our own five-year strategy for equity, diversity and inclusion which sets out our priorities to influence company culture and effect change, make PPL and the wider industry more accessible, enhance training and recruitment practices, and educate and engage with our employees. It comes with a set of targets against which we will evaluate our progress and we will continue to voluntarily publish our gender and ethnicity pay gaps, with transparency being central to all we do in this area.

I would like to thank the PPL Board and those who sit on our various Committees. I recognise it is an additional undertaking but I hope that you enjoy working with us and supporting PPL grow, evolve and become a stronger global music company.

And, last but not least, to John Smith OBE. It was a pleasure, John, to celebrate your Queen’s Honour earlier this year and to come together with many from across the music industry to recognise your achievements. Thank you for all you have done for the music industry over many decades and thank you also for your continued support of me and the PPL team.”