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INTERVIEW: PPL's Sarah Mitchell on helping musicians get paid, music recognition technology, and supporting grassroots artists

Laura  Barnes
INTERVIEW: PPL's Sarah Mitchell on helping musicians get paid, music recognition technology, and supporting grassroots artists

Whether you’re a self-releasing musician, an artist signed to a record label or a session player, understanding what you should and shouldn’t be paid for can sometimes be a minefield.

Luckily, there are organisations out there to help ensure performers get the royalties they deserve.

MI Pro editor Laura Barnes caught up with PPL’s Head of Member Services Sarah Mitchell to find out more about how this organisation helps musicians get paid for their work…

Can you give us an overview of what PPL does and how its helps musicians?
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PPL licenses recorded music whenever it is played in public or broadcast on radio or TV and then distributes the revenue collected (less its operating costs) to its performer and record company members.

Our performer members range from grassroots artists who are just starting out right through to major festival headliners and stadium acts, as well as session musicians and orchestral players.  

Our record company members (or ‘recording rightsholders’) include self-releasing artists, sole traders, indies and the major labels.  

As well as collecting licence fees in the UK, we work closely with overseas collective management organisations (known as ‘CMOs’) to collect revenue for our members when their repertoire is played internationally. Our working relationships are extensive, open and collaborative.  

How simple is it for a musician to join and what information do they need?

Performers can join PPL very simply by heading to www.ppluk.com and clicking on the ‘I Make Music’ section. This will then take them through to the ‘MyPPL’ portal for members where they will be guided through the online registration process. Recording rightsholders can also register there. 

Grassroots artists, emerging talent and new musicians are an area of focus for us.

Our dedicated Member Services team are also on hand to answer any queries that they may have and can be reached easily by phone (020 7534 1234) or email (memberservices@ppluk.com). Anyone under 18 will need to have their registration forms co-signed by a parent or guardian.  

To register as a performer with PPL, we will need your:
– Contact details
– Your bank and tax details
– Details of recordings you feature on
– Proof of your signature, date of birth and address
– Printed, completed and signed registration form

Is a company like PPL just for those signed to major labels or are there other types of working musicians who should get involved?

PPL membership is free and open to anyone who has performed on, or owns the rights to, commercially released recorded music. We work with artists of all levels of experience – those signed to both major and independent labels, as well as self-releasing artists, session musicians and orchestral players. 

Grassroots artists, emerging talent and new musicians are an area of focus for us and, last year, we provided financial support via the PRS Foundation, which went specifically towards helping emerging artists through their Momentum Music Fund and International Showcase Fund.  

Does PPL have any initiatives or projects coming up that musicians should know about?

We host monthly ‘PPL In Session’ workshops for our members; these are regularly held in London, as well as in other cities across the UK to ensure that we are able to meet our members face to face on a regular basis, and be available to answer their questions.  

These are usually informal sessions where representatives from our Member Services team guide members through the various processes that are required to help them to maximise their revenue. 

We also host ‘drop-in’ clinics for members and those interested in joining at a number of UK festivals and events for example, The Great Escape in Brighton, Wide Days in Edinburgh and Sound In Vision in Norwich. It’s a great opportunity to meet our members around the country and for them to find out more about us!

Looking after artists’ mental health and overall wellbeing continues to be a priority for the broader music business.

Elsewhere, we are getting out and about to meet performers and record labels across the UK with events planned in Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast and other cities before the end of the year.  

Following the news of Chester Bennington’s death, HMUK launched a service dedicated to supporting musicians. How important do you think it is to have something like this in place?

Looking after artists’ mental health and overall wellbeing continues to be a priority for the broader music business and we welcome any initiatives or services that are aimed at supporting this within the industry. 

PPL actively supports BAPAM (The British Association of Performing Arts Medicine) and we are aware of many positive initiatives in this area being delivered by organisations such as Help Musicians UK and Music Support to name a few.

What’s next for PPL?

Firstly, we remain absolutely committed to maximising revenues for our members – performers and record companies alike. We collected £212.1 million in the UK and internationally in 2016 and paid over 92,000 performers and record companies and we anticipate our revenue continuing to grow.

Our international collections will continue to be a major focus and we will continue to build on the 84 international agreements we have in place across 40 countries. Our success in this area is established on our strong relationships with our international equivalents and continued collaborative working to ensure that we are maximising collections for our members outside of the UK.

We will also continue exploring the latest technological innovations such as the Music Recognition Technology pilot that we are trialling with PRS for Music in certain bars and nightclubs to assist us with distributions. A device is fitted into the venues in question and it is hoped that the pilot will demonstrate accurate identification of music performance information, to feed into the distribution of royalties to PPL (and PRS for Music) members. 

Another particular area of focus is the upcoming public performance licensing joint venture with PRS for Music – PPL PRS Ltd. The new joint venture company, which will be based in Leicester, will strive to provide efficiencies in this licensing area, ultimately benefitting our members, as well as simplifying the licensing experience for our public performance licensees. 

For more information visit www.ppluk.com. You can also follow PPL on Twitter @ppluk.

Tags: licensing , ppl , royalties , Interviews , Sarah Mitchell

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