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PRS takes on SoundCloud in royalties battle

Group tasked with collecting cash for artists says streaming site is operating without a licence

Streaming site SoundCloud is being sued by the Performing Rights Society (PRS) after five years of "unsuccessful negotiations."

The PRS collects and distributes royalties to artists when music is played on radio, television or online and the organisation has for years said that SoundCloud should have a PRS licence and pay musicians for streaming their work.

Now, in the same month that they agreed a deal with Spotify, the PRS has decided to take action against Soundcloud.

In a statement, the PRS says: "After careful consideration, and following five years of unsuccessful negotiations, we now find ourselves in a situation where we have no alternative but to commence legal proceedings against the online music service SoundCloud.

"Launched in 2008, the service now has more than 175million unique listeners per month. Unfortunately, the organisation continues to deny it needs a PRS for Music licence for its existing service available in the UK and Europe, meaning it is not remunerating our members when their music is streamed by the SoundCloud platform.

"If the streaming market is to reach its true potential and offer a fair return for our members, organisations such as SoundCloud must pay for their use of our members’ music."

Many acts use SoundCloud to premiere new tracks or stream entire albums ahead of release. The PRS says it sent SoundCloud a sample list of 45000 PRS-registered artists whose music was being streamed on the site without a licence in place. SoundCloud replied by removing 250 of the streams but offered no explanation for why they chose those particular groups.

In a statement, SoundCloud says: "It is regrettable that PRS appears to be following this course of action in the midst of an active commercial negotiation with SoundCloud.

"We believe this approach does not serve the best interests of any of the parties involved, in particular the members of the PRS, many of whom are active users of our platform and who rely on it to share their work and communicate with their fan base.

"SoundCloud is a platform by creators, for creators. No one in the world is doing more to enable creators to build and connect with their audience while protecting the rights of creators, including PRS members.

"We are working hard to create a platform where all creators can be paid for their work, and already have deals in place with thousands of copyright owners, including record labels, publishers and independent artists."

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