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As PRS elects eight new Council members, MMF says more changes are needed to boost diversity at the top

By | Published on Thursday 26 May 2022

PRS For Music

UK collecting society PRS held its Annual General Meeting in London yesterday, which included the election of eight members to the society’s Council, four writers and four publishers.

Despite various efforts to increase the diversity of the organisation’s leadership, the election didn’t do much to enhance the diversity of its Council, which – the Music Managers Forum said yesterday – was mainly because of an “outmoded and outdated system of governance”.

The writers elected to the Council yesterday included Hannah Peel, Tom Gray, Crispin Hunt and Philip Pope. On the publisher side, the four members elected to the Council were Nigel Gilroy from the Wise Music Group, Daniel Lang from Warner Chappell Music, John Minch from Concord, and Richard Paine from Faber Music.

Commenting on the election, PRS CEO Andrea Czapary Martin said: “My congratulations to the newly elected and re-elected Council members. I very much look forward to working with you all. You bring a breadth of vision, diversity of skill sets and an understanding of the digital ecosystem from which the organisation and the members will greatly benefit”.

Meanwhile, outgoing Chair of the Council, Peermusic’s Nigel Elderton, added: “I welcome our newly appointed and reappointed Council Members whose combined experience and expertise will help to steer PRS’s future. I know they will bring a huge amount of insight and knowledge to the Members’ Council”.

Elderton is stepping down from the Council completely after three decades as a PRS director. “As I look back on my 30 years as a director of PRS”, he went on, “it is immensely rewarding to note how far and how quickly this company has transformed into a world class performing rights organisation. I wish PRS and its members continued success as it grows into becoming a billion-pound society”.

However, the Chairs and CEO of MMF – Paul Craig, Kwame Kwaten and Annabella Coldrick – expressed disappointment that the election had not resulted in a more diverse Council, despite efforts to ensure that a more diverse pool of candidates were standing.

“Today’s PRS election result is disappointing”, they said in a statement. “Last week at the Ivor Novello Awards we all celebrated the diversity of the UK’s songwriting talent, and it’s evident that those voices need to be properly represented on the Council of our collecting society”.

“That this hasn’t happened is no reflection on the candidates”, they went on, “it’s the result of an outmoded and outdated system of governance at PRS, which is in clear need of root and branch reform to ensure the value of people of colour to songwriting and publishing is not just acknowledged but properly represented”.

Among the aspects of PRS governance that have come under criticism are the rules around voting. Not all PRS members get to vote, meanwhile some members get ten or 20 votes, mainly depending on the revenues they generate via the society.

That likely means a relatively small portion of the membership actually decides who is elected to the Council, which arguably impacts on the diversity of the elected team.

PRS has reviewed its governance practices in recent years while also launching various initiatives to increase the diversity of its membership, and the people working at and leading the society. It remains to be seen if further changes are now made in a bid to get a more diverse top team at the organisation.

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