What is an ISRC and where can I get one?

The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. APRA AMCOS does not issue ISRCs. Recorded Music NZ is the International Standard Recording Code national agency, and it administers ISRCs. For more information about the ISRC system, or to apply for an ISRC for your recordings, please visit the Recorded Music NZ web site: www.recordedmusic.co.nz/portfolio/isrc-codes/.

Please supply all your ISRCs to APRA AMCOS by adding to your works registration details. ISRCs are used by APRA AMCOS to assist in matching work details reported to us by Digital Service Providers for digital download sales. ISRC information therefore assists in maximising the download royalties we can pay to our members.  

How do I join my band up to APRA AMCOS?

The copyright in a song is owned by the individual songwriter or writers who wrote the song. For this reason, only individual songwriters can join APRA AMCOS. A band cannot sign up as a single entity. That said, if all people in the band write songs or collaborate to write songs, then all band members can individually join APRA AMCOS as members.

If you are in a band, when you complete your APRA AMCOS membership application, make sure you tell us your band/performer name. When registering works that have been co-written with the band, you will also need to tell us the names of the other writers and the ownership percentage splits for each of the writers. It's important that all songwriters within the band agree on the percentage splits for each work before registering the work with APRA AMCOS, otherwise this can lead to problems down the track when royalties may become payable for that work. 

Each song co-written by the band only needs to be registered once on the APRA AMCOS website via our member login. The band should agree on who will take responsibility for registering each work and providing the songwriter and ownership split details. If more than one writer registers the song and there are differences in the details provided, this can make it harder for us to track the use your music and pay royalties correctly.

Only the musical work copyright owners (ie the songwriters and the music publisher if applicable) should be credited in the APRA AMCOS registration.

A band is performing my songs. Can they do this without my permission?

Yes, in most cases they can. The venue in which the band plays must hold a OneMusic or APRA licence; it is not the responsibility of the individual bands. The licence gives the venue a blanket licence to authorise the performance of all copyright music.

I have a dispute with a co-writer over a work - the co-writer is also an APRA AMCOS member. Can APRA AMCOS help me resolve this dispute?

When working with co-writers, it is best to have a clear written agreement that states the nature of your collaboration. See our guide for working with co-writers here.

Disputes over royalty entitlements are expensive, time consuming and often left unresolved.

APRA AMCOS is concerned about such disputes between its members and has established an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system to assist both Writer and Publisher members. Click here for more info. 

I want to make a CD that will include covers of other people's songs - do I need a licence to do this? What if I want to upload it to a site like iTunes?

Do I need a licence?

Yes. You will need to obtain an AMCOS licence if you want to make a recording of a song composed by another writer. Find out more in Making Recordings.

Uploading cover versions to digital service provider sites like iTunes


If you are recording a cover version of a work and wish to sell it as a digital download on a US-based download service, you are required to take out a licence with the Harry Fox Agency (AMCOS equivalent in the USA). Go to www.harryfox.com and head to their Songfile Mechanical Licensing tool.  In cases where the Harry Fox Agency do not represent the work, you may be able to obtain a compulsory licence via RightsFlow – see www.rightsflow.com and head to the Limelight licensing area.

New Zealand

As long as you've first obtained a manufacturing licence from AMCOS, you can supply your recording to a digital service provider(DSP)such as iTunes. APRA AMCOS licenses DSPs directly, and so royalties for downloads will be collected by APRA AMCOS on behalf of the rights holders. 

What do I need to do to show my work is copyright protected?

You do not need to register your work, pay any fees or fill in any forms for it to be protected. Copyright protection is automatic, both in New Zealand and overseas. As soon as you write down your lyrics or music, or record it onto any medium, such as an MP3, CD or tape, it will be protected by copyright. The only requirement is that the work is original (ie it is not copied) and the result of some skill or effort on your part.

You also do not need a copyright notice on your work for it to be protected, however, it is advisable to warn people that you own the rights in the work. The notice is the copyright symbol ©, your name (and the names of other co-creators), and the year in which the work was created or published. For example: © John Brown, Jenny Black, Jackie Green 2008. You should mark all copies (print and recorded) with this notice.

It is rare that disputes arise about who owns the copyright in a work, but if this occurs, you do need to be able to prove that you created the work. The best evidence of this would be early drafts or recordings of the work as well as diaries detailing its development.

Q. I'm a little confused about what publishers do and publishing deals

Visit our publisher hub here. If you have any further questions about publishing, contact us.

Can I earn royalties for digital downloads?

It depends.

Unfortunately, there are many illegal download services (including P2P services) – for example, Limewire, eDonkey and mp3fiesta – which are unlicensed. You should not expect to receive royalties from the use of your music on these sites or services.

That said, APRA AMCOS has a licence agreement in place with most legal Digital Service Providers (DSPs) in Australia, including: NineMSN, ABC Online, SBS website, Yahoo!7, MCM websites (Take 40 and Hot Hits), News Digital Media sites, Fairfax Digital - to name a few. Please contact us to inquire about a specific service.

If the digital music service is licensed by APRA AMCOS then there are two types of royalties you may be entitled to.

  • Firstly, there's the communication royalty we collect for making available online and/or electronically transmitting the work to the customer's computer.
  • Secondly, we also collect a reproduction royalty for the reproduction of the song to the customer's hard drive or mobile phone.

For APRA AMCOS to collect and distribute these royalties on your behalf, you will need to ensure we are authorised to collect both sets of royalties for you. Contact us to find out what your membership currently covers.

You can also help us identify when your works are downloaded on these services by ensuring that you register your new works before they are sold on the internet. Please make sure that you provide the ‘performer name’ when you register your works.

We distribute royalties for any of our members’ works sold over a licensed service within our territory (Australasia). Our digital download tariff has been ratified by the Copyright Tribunal with a combined APRA AMCOS royalty for digital downloads being set at 9% of the retail price, subject to minimum fees.

Can I earn royalties from airplay on online radio and digital radio stations?

Yes. The majority of New Zealand and Australian online and digital radio stations are simulcasts of their analogue versions, and this additional use is licensed under their standard APRA AMCOS agreements.

Q. Can I earn royalties if my work is played by a webcaster?

Unlike digital radio or online radio stations, a webcaster is specific to the internet, i.e. they do not have an analogue equivalent.

For webcasters, it's still early days.  Given the small amount of advertising revenue currently being generated by these services– their licence fees are a fraction of those paid by commercial radio broadcasters. This means that royalty distributions for streams by webcasters are incredibly small; keeping in mind the vast number of hours of music programming and the significantly lower licence fees we collect.

Can I earn royalties if my music is broadcast on YouTube?

APRA AMCOS’ licence agreement with YouTube covers the streaming of all music videos including music embedded in user generated content (UGC).  However, because of problems in identifying music in UGC, distributions are only made on official music videos.

You may find that your works have been being reproduced or synchronised as part of other users’ uploaded content to YouTube. It is important to understand that the reproduction/synchronisation rights of a work are owned by the original copyright owner/music publisher. Therefore, a work cannot be used without gaining permission from the original creator (that means you!).

If you discover that your musical work has been used without your consent, there are two options available:

  1. Contact the user who has used your work and license them directly.
  2. Contact us and we will endeavour to have the video taken down from YouTube on your behalf. 

Please note, if you want to upload cover versions of songs to a User Generated Content site (UGC), you must first clear all reproduction/synchronisation rights with the music publishers/original copyright owners.

What happens to my royalties when I pass away?

In New Zealand, copyright exists until 50 years after a songwriter’s death. APRA AMCOS can arrange to have any future royalties generated by your musical works paid directly to a person entitled to receive them until that time (usually the beneficiary of your estate). This person is referred to as a Successor in Title (SIT).

Who can I contact for further information?

For an application form or to find out more, contact Rita Luck rluck@apra.co.nz, 09 623 4718.

What's a remix and how does copyright and royalties apply to remixes?

Remixes are sound recordings that have been remixed, edited or otherwise reworked to sound different from the original recording of the song. Remixes typically feature some parts of the original recording (even if they are altered in some way) together with some re-recorded parts.

Remixes are commissioned for a number of different reasons. This may be to target a different market e.g. a club remix of a commercial release for DJs to play in nightclubs, a radio friendly remix of a club track for commercial airplay, or even as a launch tool for an up-and-coming artist, by getting an established artist to remix their song.

A remix is different to a “cover”. A cover is a “remake” or “re-record” of a song that was previously recorded by someone else - featuring completely new vocals and instrumentation. Cover recordings do not involve any significant changes to the underlying musical work, whereas remixes often do.

Remixes & copyright

Copyright on remixes can get complicated. If you need clarity, please do contact us or the New Zealand Copyright Council. Here's a snapshot of what you need to consider:

  • The creation of a remix always involves the creation of a new sound recording and that sound recording will be protected by a new copyright separate to the original recording. Remixers should always obtain the permission of the owner of the original sound recording to create a remix. In particular, the remixer and the owner of the original sound recording should agree between themselves who will own the remixed recording (along with other key commercial terms) prior to commencing work on the project.
  • If a remix includes additional original composition, such as a rap or an entirely new melody and/or set of chord progressions, the remix may also comprise a new musical work, separate from the underlying original work. Remixers should also always obtain the permission of the owner of the original underlying song before creating a remix.
  • If a remix does not include additional original composition, and the song has had a previous commercial release, it may be that the making of the remix is covered by the statutory mechanical licence provisions of the Copyright Act. In this case, separate additional clearances from the owners of the musical work are not required to create the remix so long as the manufacture of the recording or any digital exploitation is licensed by the copyright owner(s) and you have obtained permission from the owner of the original sound recording(s). If in doubt whether the statutory mechanical licence provisions apply to your remix, you should seek independent legal advice. If you intend to release your own CDs, provide digital downloads or stream your remix online you should also contact APRA AMCOS on mechlic@apra.com.au to seek the necessary licences for the reproduction (and communication where applicable) of the original composition(s
Q. Can I register my remix with APRA AMCOS?

A remix can only be registered with APRA AMCOS after you have obtained the permission from the copyright owner of the original song and if the remix is sufficiently original to constitute a new musical work 

The copyright owner will usually be a music publisher or the original songwriter(s). Before registering the remix, you should ensure that all writers involved in the remix (both original songwriters and remixers) are aware of and agree to the remix ownership details to be supplied to APRA AMCOS.

If the original song copyright owner does not give permission for you to claim royalties for your remix, you are not able to register the remix with APRA AMCOS. In all cases you should provide the original copyright owner with details of the IRSC (International Standard Recording Code) and any new performers associated with your remix so that this can be added to the existing APRA AMCOS work registration. 

Please be aware that you cannot register or claim APRA AMCOS royalties for cover songs. The royalties for cover songs are paid to the original songwriter(s) and music publisher.

Q. How do I get clearance to commercially release a remix?

You usually need to clear both of the following copyrights to commercially release a remix: 

1) the copyright in the song (i.e. the musical work – music and lyrics); and

2) the copyright in the sound recording (sometimes referred to as the master)

APRA AMCOS can assist you in contacting the musical work copyright owners - simply contact us, which as much information you have about the work.

You’ll be provided with the contact information for the music publisher(s) or sub-publisher(s) so you can negotiate permission and a fee together with any other key commercial terms. If the copyright owner is a local songwriter, the APRA AMCOS Membership team will assist in putting you in touch.

Sound recording copyrights are usually owned by record companies/labels. To determine the sound recording copyright owner, contact Recorded Music NZ in the first instance. The original song’s music publisher may also be able to advise who owns the sound recording/master rights. 

Q. How do I claim publishing royalties for a remix?

This process is separate from the clearance to commercially release your remix. You may have been given permission to create and release a remix but this does not necessarily entitle you to register the remix with APRA AMCOS and claim royalties. It is quite common for the owner of an original song to only provide permission for your remix to be commercially released so long as they retain the rights to the remixed song. In this instance, the publishing royalties for the remix will be paid to the songwriter and music publisher of the original song. 

If you do wish to claim a share of publishing royalties for your remix, you will always need to obtain the written agreement of the owner of the original song, who is often a music publisher.

If the publisher does grant permission for you to claim a percentage of royalties for the remix, you should forward a copy of this permission to APRA AMCOS along with your remix registration details.

Q. How do I register remixes with APRA AMCOS?

Once you have obtained permission from the original song’s copyright owners, you can register your remix with APRA AMCOS. You cannot register remixes via the APRA AMCOS works registration facility. To register remixes, please email nz@apra.co.nz.

When sending the registration of the remix please note the following:

  • Please provide the song title, any co-writers and the ownership percentage in the work for each sharer
  • The writer/s of the original song should be included as sharers in the remix
  • Ensure that all writers involved in the remix have agreed to the registration details you are supplying
  • Put the remix title in brackets
  • Supply the original artist name
  • If you are renaming the song completely, please supply the original song and artist name

Format should look like the following:


SMITH, JOHN CA 50% (original writer)

SMITH, JANE CA 25% (original writer)

JONES, JIM C 12.5% (remixer)

JONES, SALLY C 12.5% (remixer)

Original artist: Smithers

Original song title: AWESOME SONG 323

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