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New Year message from PRS Foundation CEO, Joe Frankland

As CEO of PRS Foundation, it’s an exciting time to reflect on a remarkable 2019 while looking ahead to our 20th anniversary year as we continue to increase the reach, accessibility and impact of the Foundation’s support for new music.

Last year we experienced record levels of demand, attracting over 4,800 applications – a 20% increase. Our funding supports over 7,500 UK based music creators every year, with approximately £3.2 million awarded to over 560 projects.

That crucial support enabled talented music creators across the UK to write, record, perform, release, tour and promote their music through direct grants to songwriters and composers, and via grants to pioneering organisations.

2019 was a big year of internal change following 11 successful years with Vanessa Reed at the helm, and it’s a privilege to take our exciting new team into PRS Foundation’s third decade.

It was also a massive year for our grantees, proving that when songwriters and composers from all backgrounds are given the time, space, freedom and opportunities they need, they thrive. Grantee success last year included:

  • 7 out of 12 Mercury Music Prize nominees being #FundedByPRSF (including winner, Dave)
  • grantees being selected for Album of the Year prizes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • chart success and critical acclaim for grantee releases and performances, including for our own New Music Biennial festival
  • the launch of new funds including Hitmaker, new partnerships with AWAL and Music Venue Trust, and launching phase 2 of global gender equality initiative, Keychange

Read about Team PRS Foundation’s 2019 highlights here.

According to our friends at UK Music in their excellent Music by Numbers report, music creators contribute over £2.5 billion per year in GVA to the UK economy, and £1.1 billion to total export revenues. With growth in music consumption, recorded income, publishing income, music tourism and many positives in the live sector, music industry insiders are positive coming into a new decade.

However, the majority of songwriters, composers, artists and producers struggle financially. Creators face challenges including a lack of investment in music education and progression routes, venue closures, limited access to finance, and a skills gap for creators and future industry professionals. And with 30% of our grants supporting international activities, we share creators’ concerns around the likely barriers presented by Brexit.

These talent development pipeline gaps mean that despite improved access to music making and to global audiences, music creators struggle to find and seize development opportunities.

With money flowing into the industry, now is the time to co-invest in exciting talent.

This is where PRS Foundation continues to play a vital role – offering applicants the funding they need at critical points, linking them with expert organisations who can fast-track their development, and collaborating with trade associations, funders and the industry to ensure that our programmes reach and support diverse and exciting songwriters, composers, artists and producers in all areas of the UK.

Music creators based outside London, those with additional access needs, and music creators most in need of financial support possess the talent and potential to forge long-term careers in music. I’m proud of PRS Foundation’s success tackling such barriers but more must be done to ensure opportunities are more inclusive and more accessible.

In the coming months you will see us announcing smarter ways to meet the needs of music creators.

Inspired by last year’s Talent Development Conference takeaways, our work with Attitude is Everything and the success of Keychange’s approach to inclusivity, we will be ensuring our programmes continue to tackle inequality and are as accessible as possible, starting with our relaunched ‘1-stage fits all’ Open Programme which offers faster decisions and allows music creators to choose between written or video answers.

To meet the changing needs of early career/emerging talent, we rely on partnerships and take great pride in the role played by organisations we fund. Outside of grant support, we strategically signpost music creators to those organisations as well as trade associations and to industry partners. I want to further develop this side of our work and look forward to conversations with like-minded music industry and talent development experts to better join the dots during challenging and uncertain times.



Throughout 2020 we’ll be celebrating our unique relationship with PRS for Music who set up the Foundation in 2000. Thanks to their massive commitment to new music, we have been able to give out more than £35m to over 7,300 initiatives.

During our 20th anniversary year we’ll be badging 20 funded events and partnerships, including Sŵn  Festival, The Lost Words ‘Spell Songs’ and Rambert’s ‘Aisha and Abhayato’ to shine a light on great funded projects which epitomise our support for outstanding music and talent development. We’re commissioning our first 360° evaluation report to demonstrate the economic, social and cultural impact of our support. And we’ll be announcing other events and activities as the year progresses.

Our collaborative approach transforms music creator careers and has a huge impact on the wider sector, with thanks to all our partners, including PPL, UK Arts Councils and Creative Europe.

This support allows us to take the forward-thinking steps that champion positive change in the music sector. And I look forward to spending 2020 developing existing and new partnerships so that we can continue to break down barriers in order to enable and inspire the next generation’s creative and career progression.


Happy New Year!


Follow PRS Foundation on Twitter @PRSFoundation & Instagram @PRSFoundation