How To: Make Money from Royalties with PRS for Music

27 Mar 2019

This post was written more than two years ago. The content or information below may no longer be accurate.

Money, money, money… If you’ve listened to the seemingly never ending debate about streaming, you’d believe that there’s nothing to be made in the music game. Rumours of the music industry’s financial demise have been greatly exaggerated and there are still many avenues to make financial gain. If you’re an artist and can write songs, then you can make royalties, and if you can make royalties it’s time to learn about PRS for Music.

Sleepy Folk-9

What is PRS?

PRS for Music is a Performance Right Organisation (PRO). PROs are intermediates between copyright holders and those who wish to use copyrighted works publicly.

PRS is UK’s leading PRO that collects performance royalties specifically on behalf of composers, songwriters, and music publishers for public performances in the UK (including online music streaming to users in the UK). PRS requires membership and represents over 135k members.

What makes a public performance?

Legally, if a song is performed, broadcast, streamed, downloaded, reproduced, played in public or used in film and TV, royalties are owed. This even includes live performances of your song.

A  ‘public performance’ is any playback of your music that is not strictly personal i.e. any playback of commercial music which does not involve you playing your own copy of the music for your own listening pleasure in private. This can include nightclubs, concerts, restaurants… the list goes on!

For example, Youtube pays PRS for the right to ‘publicly perform’ (stream) music to people watching Youtube videos.  Stores pay PRS so that they can put the radio on or play commercial music in their store. Concert venues pay PRS to allow bands to perform commercial music on their stages, etc. Everyone who publicly uses (plays or performs) music has to pay PRS for Music.

Do I need to be signed to claim royalties?

You do not need to be signed to a record label, publisher or any other affiliation to join PRS and claim royalties. So even your humble independent artist is entitled to royalties from their works being publicly used.

Who doesn’t need PRS for Music?

To claim royalties you have to be a songwriter – if you perform in a band but don’t have writing credits you can’t claim royalties. Similarly arranging existing pieces of music that are in copyright is ineligible (sorry DJs!).

So how do I get started?

If you’re a songwriter you can join PRS by paying the one off membership fee of £100, filling in their application form and sending off the appropriate form of ID. Because of this they recommend that you’re sure the money you will earn will be over this amount by the time you apply.

If topics such as royalties or copyright are of interest to you, why not check out our music business courses; you never know what you might learn!


If you’d like to learn more about how we can help kick-start your music career, why not come along to one of ACM’s Open Days.

Open Days