Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Songwriters' web forum launches

By Georgie Rogers
6 Music News reporter

Pete Waterman
Pete Waterman was given an OBE for his services to music in 2004

A new website designed for songwriters to post their views on protecting their music on the web has been launched.

The Performing Rights Society has set up to highlight the "issues of online earnings."

This follows the row between YouTube and PRS over royalty rates, which resulted in the removal of thousands of music videos from the site.

Artists and songwriters, including Pete Waterman and Abba's Bjorn Ulvaeus, have all posted messages on the site.

The intention of the site is to encourage internet giant Google to reinstate the premium music videos on YouTube.

Adrian Crooks, a spokesman for PRS told BBC 6 Music: "The website is also saying, along with music fans, 'Lets get the music back up on YouTube so that everyone can enjoy it, but let's make sure the people who have created the music are properly rewarded for providing the business benefit'.

"It's to demonstrate a strength of feeling amongst creators, to demonstrate also that very often PRS for music is seen as an organisation that stops access to the music and that's not what it does. That's not what it's there for."

Artists backing

Music industry members from radio, television presenter Paul Gambaccini, Jools Holland and the writers of the EastEnders and Peep Show theme-tunes are all behind the initiative.

Music industry mogul Pete Waterman said: "YouTube is not alone in the online hall of shame where the worthy notion of greater consumer choice is used as a cloak to disguise the fact that copyright infringement happens on a grand scale."

If we get 0.6 pence for 10 million views, we'd need billions of views to see any real money
Marillion keyboardist, Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly, keyboardist for the British rock group Marillion, said YouTube was "a great resource", but admitted he had seen little monetary benefit from his material being on the site.

"There have been maybe 10 million views of Marillion's material on YouTube and in my last PRS statement I received 0.6 pence from them," he said.

"There's a bit of a gap I think between what they should be paying and what they actually are paying, certainly in our case.

"I'm not sure what that works out at but if we get 0.6 pence for 10 million views, we'd need billions of views to see any real money."

In his post on the site, Waterman claimed his PRS income for the year to September 2008 came to a total of £11, for more than 100 million plays on YouTube of Never Gonna Give You Up, which he co-wrote with Rick Astley.

YouTube response

PRS revealed discussions were continuing with YouTube to put in place a new license.

A Google statement said: "We absolutely believe that artists and songwriters should make money from the use of their material. We previously had a license with the PRS to enable this to happen and we're very committed to reaching terms so that we can renew our license."

It continued: "YouTube cannot be expected to engage in a business in which it loses money every time a music video is played - that is simply not a sustainable business model."

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