I went to a PRS Soundcheck event last night in London. These are events for new members of PRS designed to give a quick intro the PRS and how it works and importantly what PRS members should expect and also what PRS asks of them.
Firstly PRS. Is it worth joining? Well in the old days it was at least £100 I think to join and so bottom line unless you were certain that you'd get airplay, big paid gigs etc. it wasn't worth it. Now it is only £10 to join and that is taken out of your first distribution. So as they say "What have you got to lose?" I was alerted to it by another blogger - the power of the internet...
So you sign up then what? Well you need to register all your songs. This is not that onerous but is the critical bit - the PRS can only distribute what they know about they aren't mind readers clearly. So get all your work listed. Do it regularly and ensure it is up to date. If you co-write you can say so but the other person will only get their money if they are a PRS member - not advised on the night is one person signing up and distributing to others themselves. No doubt they've seen too many cases like that end in court :-)
How do you get paid? Well the PRS distributed quarterly and the presentation explained the timings of all that.
What do I get paid? As they say... it all depends. There are different rates on the type of radio or TV broadcast and the size and earning potential of the venue. However remember where ever and when ever your material is used you have a right to the fees payable for the use of your material. Even a YouTube hit generates soem money. The pub you play in - yes they pay for a licence from PRS every year, if you submit your gig list you can get some of that money distributed to you. So why not?
The guy talking in my breakout group (Stuart Belsham) clearly really knew his stuff. It was a very worth while time spent in my opinion - although I did happen to already be in London for the day if you had to travel a huge distance for 2 hours when you can get a lot of the info off the website maybe not.
One other nugget - if you are releasing your stuff under your own label it's probably not becoming a member of the MCPS - which is the mechanical rights bit... i.e. the royalty you are due if your material is sold on a CD etc. Why? Because you end up paying a cut to them to simply pay yourself.
My advice is that if you are making your own material and playing it, streaming it or planning your own CD release and trying to it heard on radio etc. then join and start using the service and ask the team there questions.