UK songwriters now earning more from digital music services than radio

4 Apr 2013

An end-of-year report from UK royalties body PRS for Music shows that revenues from digital music services have now overtaken those earned from radio broadcasts as more online players enter the fold.

According to PRS for Music, which collects royalties for more than 95,000 songwriters and composers in the UK, British songwriters accrued stg£51.7m in royalties from digital music services in 2012. This makes online music the second-highest earner for these music-makers, accounting for 8pc of their total royalty income.

For the past five years, the average annual growth for online revenues has been 27pc, but the 2012 figure represents a 32.2pc hike from 2011’s stg£38.5m. The significant growth has been attributed to new licensing agreements with growing services like Google Play, Xbox Music and Vevo, as well as the renewal of existing agreements.

PRS for Music 2012 figures

Royalty revenue collected by source (Source: PRS for Music)

Royalties from broadcasters amount to 24pc of all revenues for UK songwriters at stg£153m, but the majority of this is coming from TV (stg£106m) while radio is earning less than online music at stg£47m.

“Copyright remains fundamental to the continued success of our members both at home and abroad, while the ever-increasing importance of licensed online services, such as iTunes and Spotify, underlines the value of music to the internet economy,” commented Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of PRS for Music.

At least one digital music service is in decline, though. Royalties from ringtones, which once raked in stg£5.7m back in 2008, have dropped to stg£900,000, joining the ranks of plummeting royalties, like those from DVD sales.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.