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How is APRA AMCOS able to license music use?

Whenever music is performed in public, communicated or reproduced the songwriter and their publisher may be entitled to a payment or royalty. The New Zealand Copyright Act gives writers 'economic rights' which cover certain uses of their music.  By licensing and allowing the public performance, communication or reproduction of their music, songwriters can generate income known as royalties.  Songwriters and their publishers have joined APRA AMCOS and together with our reciprocal arrangements with overseas societies, we are able to aggregate their rights to offer blanket music licences. 

Where do my public performance licence fees go?

Income generated from public performance licence fees is distributed based on detailed data collected from radio and television broadcasters, live performance returns, cinemas, airlines, schools and background music suppliers. As a member organisation, after administration fees, all money collected is distributed to songwriters, composers and music publishers as royalties. View our handy distribution at a glance document for information regarding distribution of the different licence types.

I only play music from a foreign country. Do I need a licence from APRA AMCOS?

APRA AMCOS is part of a worldwide network of collecting societies connected through reciprocal licensing agreements.  This network allows our members rights to be administered all over the world, and the rights of overseas composers to be represented in New Zealand and Australia.  For example, PRSforMusic administers Lorde’s rights in the UK, and we administer Ed Sheeran’s here. Your licence fee contributes income to New Zealand songwriters and to songwriters from around the world. 

I’ve already paid for the CD or Download. Why do I need a licence to play the music in my business?

Buying a CD, music download or other recorded media does not automatically give you permission to use it for a public performance, broadcast or make reproductions of the work. In fact, music purchased in this way usually comes with a disclaimer that the purchase price does not include the right to publicly perform, broadcast, communicate or reproduce the music. So if you want to use music in these ways in your business or publicly you need permission from the copyright owner. In most cases an annual licence from us will give you this permission.

Radio and TV stations pay a licence fee to broadcast music, why do I have to pay another fee?

The Copyright Act provides composers, songwriters and music publishers with a number of separate rights under the Copyright Act.  A radio station’s broadcast of music uses one of those rights and the station will take out our licence for this specific use.  The performance of that same music in a business or shop uses a different public performance right requiring a separate licence from us.

A helpful analogy is to compare this to buying a ticket to watch a film at the movies versus hiring a film from the video store to watch it at home on DVD. Both actions are separate transactions that take place in different business contexts and so require the payment of a separate fee.

How is playing or copying music in my business different from playing at home?

Music played in private is considered personal use of music which doesn't require the copyright owner's permission. Such personal use includes copying the music into different formats to play on different devices in your home, in your car or even in a hotel or hospital room where you may be staying or sleeping. It's not considered personal use if you play music or make copies of music for your the benefit of your customers, clients and staff - that's considered a public performance and a reproduction. The use of music in this way requires the copyright owners' permission. A licence from us makes getting that permission and getting on with your business a really simple process.

Do hotel guest rooms require a licence for televisions and radios?

No. Playing televisions and radios in hotel guest rooms is exempt from a licence under the Copyright Act. However, if you supply pay-TV or movies-on-demand for your guests you may require licences from us and from Roadshow Public Performance Licensing on behalf of the film distributor. You should check that your service provider has these in place where appropriate.


Why is using a TV in my business considered a performance of music?

Music is an integral part of TV programming in dramas, comedies, reality TV shows, films and other programme formats and TV stations pay us for the right to broadcast music contained in those programmes. When a business chooses to make that broadcast available to its customers or staff, it requires a separate public performance licence for the music for this separate use.

You don't need to report to us any screens that are used only for TAB text, Keno or internal advertising where there is no sound source either directly or indirectly connected to the screen.

I pay a music supplier for my music, music system or TV, do I need a licence?

Some background music suppliers have negotiated arrangements with us where they agree to pay your public performance licence fees to us on your behalf. If your background music supplier has such an arrangement with us and you only use music in the ways they've authorised, then you will not need to pay us any more for your music use. If you use music in ways not covered by your supplier – for example live performances, karaoke or TV screens showing free or pay TV - then you will need an additional licence from us. Contact us if you are not sure whether you require one of our licences or not.

Bands that play at my establishment play their own music and I pay them, do I need a licence?

You won't need a licence from us if the band is only playing their own original music and they are not members of APRA AMCOS. If they are members of APRA AMCOS, then you will need a licence from us because they have authorised us to license public performances of their music on their behalf. Alternatively, you can negotiate a direct licence with the band. If you choose to do this and the band agrees, they will need to apply for a licence-back or opt-out arrangement with us. They will also need to ensure that they get the consent of any co-writers who may have an interest in any of the works they will be performing.

How is APRA going to license all small businesses that play music?

This is our core business: we run education and compliance programs to help ensure that all music customers are aware of their need for, and have taken out, our licence.

Where does the money go and how do you know who to pay?

Getting the distribution details right is critical for us. It's our job to ensure that we collect accurate data on what music is used so that we pay the right amount to the correct copyright owners. See Where does your money go? for more details.

How do I get permission to use music in film or an advertisement?

We can sell you a licence to use music from one of our world-leading production music studios.

Alternatively you can commission a music composition specifically for your production.

If you want to use an existing track you will need permission from the copyright owner. Our Broadcast & Online team can help you identify the correct copyright owners and get in touch with them to obtain this permission. 

What do I do if I have a concern or complaint about APRA AMCOS or my licence?

We care about the service we give you and we welcome your feedback. 

  • If you would like to comment on our service, email
  • Read about our formal complaints procedure here.
  • If you do not agree with how we have applied a licence to your business, with our fees, or with any of our services, you can use our convenient dispute resolution system. 
What are my alternatives if I don't want to get an APRA AMCOS licence?

Our licences provide the easiest and most cost-effective way to access the world’s repertoire of music for use in your business. Alternatively you can:

  • License music directly with our members including for live performances, music on hold and digital downloads.  You are free to discuss this with them and you can find out more  at our dealing direct page.
  • Some music suppliers offer recordings of music they say is outside of our repertoire and does not need our licence. This music is sometimes called "royalty free" music. Occasionally, the music still requires a licence from us - please contact us and we will check it for you.

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