Musical chairs: Musicians Union chief takes on part-time job

Musical chairs: Musicians Union chief takes on part-time job


norman lebrecht

July 27, 2015

John Smith, general secretary of the Musicians’ Union (MU) since 2002 will become chair of the music licensing agency PPL from next January.


john smith

John, a former tuba player at English National Opera, is also president of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM). He is presently a member of the PPL board.


  • Robert King says:

    Very good news for all musicians whose playing is heard on recordings: John has a wealth of experience in this field. PPL pays out very significant sums each year to musicians whose recordings get played on air in the UK and across the wider world – provided that these musicians register their repertoire with PPL. PPL also have reciprocal agreements with many collecting societies across the world.

    I sat on the board of PAMRA (which later merged into PPL) for seven years at the time when a European Directive came into being which ensured that it was not just the mega-names who would pick up money for their airplay, but now that the third flute, the sixteenth violin, the backing saxophonist or guitarist, would also benefit. The legislation was complex, the negotiations were sometimes tortuous, and the complexity of gaining and then recording all that data was (and remains) mind-boggling: many millions of tracks, tens of thousands of musicians, some quite understandably trying to remember what that session was in 1972 when they showed up at Abbey Road, with nothing but a squiggle in their diary found 40 years later saying no more than “10am, Abbey Road”.

    All musicians on disc who still haven’t done their PPL admin really are urged to enter data at least for any tracks that they know get significant airplay (don’t worry so much about the disc which sank without trace!). The system will never be perfect, but PPL really does bring money to musicians, and apart from entering the data at the start (which can be arduous), after that it is passive income for life – provided your disc gets played, somewhere!