APRA AMCOS’ response to the issues raised regarding APRA AMCOS and OneMusic in “The problem with music in New Zealand and how to fix it & why I started and ran Puppies”

Monday, 14 Jul 2014

Recently a Wellington venue operator and concert promoter, Ian Jorgensen (Blink) self published a collection of his opinions about the current New Zealand music scene. It is called “The Problem with music in New Zealand and how to fix it & why I started and ran Puppies”. 

In his book Blink makes comment about APRA AMCOS, PPNZ and our joint public performance licensing operation, OneMusic. These comments were widely reported in mainstream media and we feel they require a response from us to ensure that both sides of the story are heard.

Ian is a passionate supporter of music, songwriters and musicians in New Zealand. He has many great ideas, runs excellent events and ran a great music venue. We welcome good constructive criticism of what we do and we champion and support his enthusiasm for music, especially the independent music scene. In the past we have even supported his events financially through funding from APRA’s Music Grants program. We are listening to Blink’s issues and have undertaken to make changes where we can and where we agree it’s needed.  Some of the changes he believes need to happen are indeed already in the pipeline.  It is important to note that there are a number of points he makes in his book that are incorrect and we have outlined our response to these below.

Everyone who plays music in public is legally required to get the permission from the rights holders in the music and sound recordings they play. To make this easy for businesses, OneMusic provides simple and effective licences that give businesses the permission that they need to play music on behalf of the music writers, artists and record labels that are members of APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ (formerly PPNZ). 

Blink’s main area of concern is around OneMusic’s collection methods and APRA’s distribution processes, especially as it relates to the collection and distribution of background music licence fees.

To reassure anyone who has concerns;

  • APRA’s distribution practices for all licence schemes we operate are available here.
  • In the case of background music we use data from background music suppliers and data from radio, including student radio and Radio New Zealand.  Our analysis shows that the music played on radio is broadly representative of what is played as background music in retail and hospitality businesses and we don’t believe it is feasible to request play lists for all music played from every business in the country using background music. In our view this is the most economic and reasonable method at our disposal.
  • For live concerts we distribute licence fees collected directly to the songwriter members of APRA whose works were performed.
  • For music played on radio, TV and all digital platforms APRA distribute fees collected directly to the members of APRA whose works were performed, and Recorded Music NZ distribute these fees according to their distribution rules for these platforms. You can read about Recorded Music NZ's distribution practices here.
  • The methods of calculating licence fees for hospitality or retail customers – taking the size of the premise into account and per day rates for featured music (e.g. live music, DJs and karaoke) – were agreed after extensive consultation with the hospitality and retail industries. Most agree these are the fairest, simplest and most appropriate considerations in determining the fee.
  • We use data from providers of music for fitness classes to distribute licence fees collected for fitness classes and for background music played in gyms.
  • We are currently trialing the use of music recognition technology for the distribution of certain licence types, including music used in nightclubs and radio and television jingles.

To improve services to our members, in 2013 we moved from distributing locally-earned royalties annually to quarterly. In our last quarterly distribution we distributed royalties to 577,448 songs, 215,346 international writers, 22,683 Australian writers and 4,083 NZ writers. To do that we had to analyse 2,804,119 performance records in one 3 month period. We did that while maintaining an expense to revenue ratio of around 13%, near to world’s best practice for performing right societies.

We are a forward thinking organisation that exists to support songwriters and to provide an infrastructure that helps songwriters to make a living from music. This purpose is reflected in everything we do and we constantly work to improve our systems and processes.

Alongside our core activity of collecting and distributing licence fees, we also support songwriters through our Music Grants initiative. Each year the APRA Board sets aside 1.75% of distributable revenue to fund projects, organisations and events that support our members and foster growth in the industry. These projects include events we produce internally, such as the APRA Silver Scroll Awards and the Songwriter Speaks sessions, as well as projects delivered by organisations that support song writing.

In our last Music Grants round a few of the initiatives we supported include the Smokefree Rockquest, Play it Strange, the Ukelele Festival, the Screen Composer’s Guild and Zeal. These initiatives encourage song writing, promote opportunities for networking and provide platforms for exposure for song writers. Read the full list of initiatives we supported in the 2013/2014 year here.

The purpose of the Music Grants is to foster growth in the industry and to provide opportunities for songwriters to learn, network and be recognised for their achievements.

We help music creators get paid for their work and give music customers easy ways to legally play and copy music. Royalties keep the music coming and ensure the industry’s future. And that’s our focus.

Kind Regards

Anthony Healey
Head of NZ Operations APRA AMCOS and OneMusic


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