Full glossary of terms we use

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A sum of money paid by a publisher or record label to a songwriter/composer/artist to help with expenses while they are creating music. An Advance is paid back by way of the publisher or label retaining royalties or earnings until the advance amount has been recouped.

Advice of Title

A letter sent to members when they have been registered as a co-writer of a song by another party. The letter states the registered song title, their co-writers and also the member’s share in the work, which they are given the opportunity to dispute if they disagree with any information contained within it.

Agent/Booking Agent

A person appointed by a performing artist to negotiate with venues and/or promoters to secure live performances.


A conduit that enables artists to distribute their music globally through digital services (iTunes, Spotify etc). An aggregator usually charges the artist an upfront fee and/or a percentage of revenue earned from the streaming or downloading of their music.

Ambient Music

Music used to create or enhance an atmosphere such as music used in spas, massage parlours, and other health and wellbeing businesses.


A reconceptualisation of an existing work that adds musical variety by way of compositional techniques. It may differ from the original work in terms of elements such as harmony, instrumentation and structure and may contain added elements not created by the original composer. If a work is in copyright, the prospective arranger needs to contact copyright owner/publisher to seek permission to arrange the work. APRA AMCOS associates arrangements mainly with works that are out of copyright and in the public domain.


Someone who arranges existing works to suit different artists and/or styles.

Assignment of Rights

Members assign to APRA AMCOS all performing rights to their copyright works. This allows APRA AMCOS to collect royalties on behalf of the members for their catalogue of works across all revenue streams worldwide.

Audio Manufacture Licence (AMLA)

The licence required if you wish to reproduce music in a physical form whereby you are NOT the original copyright owner of the work.

Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS)

AMCOS collect reproduction or 'mechanical' royalties. Royalties are generated whenever an original work is licensed by a third party and commercially reproduced. This includes CD, DVD, and vinyl products, digital downloads, and streaming.

Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA)

The Australasian performing rights organisation that collects royalties for the public performance and communication of its members’ musical works across various platforms, including radio, television, online, and eligible live performances.


The creator of lyrics in a musical work.

Background Music

Music used in film or television, which makes up all or part of the overall sound score. Pre-existing music can be used as background music, but it is quite often original music that has been composed specifically for a film or television program. Also referred to as underscore.


Clearance is granted when a copyright owner gives permission for their work to be used and/or claimed by another party.


The creator of melody and accompaniment in a musical work.


Copyright is a number of different rights which the law grants exclusively to owners of copyright works.

If you are a composer of original music or a songwriter of lyrics, the New Zealand Copyright Act (1994) gives you the right to:

  • reproduce your work in material form (eg: make it available in physical or digital sound file format, as a lead sheet/chart or written lyrics)
  • publish your work: make it available to the public for the first time
  • communicate your work to the public by various means including:
    – broadcast on radio or television
    – transmitted by cable to subscribers (eg: on pay TV)
    – over the Internet (eg: download/streaming services, such as
          Spotify, Apple Music)
  • make an adaptation of the work, for example, by translating the lyrics.

As the copyright owner of your original music and lyrics, these are your exclusive rights.

Nobody else can use your work in these ways without getting your permission first, and, where applicable, paying you a royalty for this use.

Copyright Infringement

When a work is used, performed, reproduced or altered in any way without permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright Owner

The creator and owner of a musical work. Only the copyright owner(s) (or their Publisher) can control the use of their work and be paid for any earnings it might generate. All copyright owners of a work are entitled to have a say in how the work is used and/or paid out.


A performance or recording of a musical work by someone other than the original copyright owner(s). It may differ from the original song in terms of lyrics, structure, key signature, time signature, feel, tempo or style, but it is still essentially the same work.

Creative Commons

A non-profit organisation that enables the public to share and use creative material in a legal fashion. It works alongside copyright and allows copyright owners to set terms of use according to their needs. creativecommons.org.nz

Cue Sheets

A cue sheet is a record of all songs and compositions used in a film and/or television production. APRA AMCOS is provided with cue sheets for all locally produced programs broadcast in Australia and New Zealand and this information is used to distribute royalties for the public performance of the work.


Most countries only have one performing rights organisation (PRO), for example New Zealand only has APRA AMCOS. However there are multiple PROs in the USA. When an APRA AMCOS member starts earning royalties in the USA they can choose which PRO will act on behalf of APRA AMCOS to manage their rights.

Digital Service Provider (DSP)

A music service that sells or streams music online.


Multiple sharers can make a claim on a work, and as long as the combined claim is equal to 100% the work is created and paid. If a sharer makes a claim on a work that's already registered, the work is then put into dispute. The work remains in dispute until the legal owners of the work are established.

Distributable Event (DE)

A ‘DE’ is a large scale promoted concert/festival/event that takes place in Australia or New Zealand, where we license the Promoters of the event directly. A DE usually takes place in venues where live music is the sole purpose of the venue, such as venues for hire, arenas etc. Examples include ‘Auckland City Limits’, or a support slot of international artist.


Payment of royalties to APRA AMCOS members. Distributions occur periodically throughout the year.


A company that sells recorded works (CDs, vinyl or digital products) on behalf of an artist or record label, usually to record stores, online retailers or DSPs. They usually charge the artist or label an upfront fee and/or collect a percentage of sales revenue.

Dramatic Context

The performance of musical works in conjunction with a presentation on the live stage that has a storyline; one or more narrators or characters; or as a ballet. APRA AMCOS can administer these rights on a member’s behalf by appointing us as an Agent for this usage. The agreement is known as a Dramatic Context Agency Appointment.
FAQs for writers: apraamcos.com.au/media/Creators/FAQ-Dramatic-Context.pdf
FAQs for Licensees: http://apraamcos.com.au/media/14572/apra-amcosdramatic-contextinformation-guide.pdf

Featured Music

Music used in film or television which is audible to the characters on screen and the audience, for example a scene with a band playing in a pub or a scene with a radio playing.

Featured Music is also a term used in APRA AMCOS licences to describe featured music entertainment, such as a live performance by a band, a DJ mixing some tracks or karaoke.

Grand Rights

Works that are written specifically for opera, ballet, operettas, musical plays, revues, and large (over 20 minutes) choral works. APRA AMCOS does NOT administer rights for these works and as such, the member or the member’s publisher will need to negotiate the licence directly with the company.

Index cards

Until online registrations became the standard in the early 2000s, members submitted signed index cards detailing title and composer information for their works. Index Cards are still used for Original Works when online registration is not accessible, and Remixed Works where writers need to submit documentation of permission from the original writers.

Intellectual Property (IP)

Intangible creations of the mind such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names and images which are used in commerce. Intellectual property is protected by law through the use of patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable creators to earn recognition or financial benefit from their creations.

Interested Party Information (IPI)

A member’s universal identification number that is used by all CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) and BIEM (the international organisation representing mechanical rights) societies. Members of all Performing Rights Organisations (PROs) are assigned an IPI and this number remains with the member even if they transfer to another society.

International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)  

An international identification system for sound recordings and music videos. An ISRC is a unique identifier for a specific recording.


In terms of royalty payments, jingle refers to any music used in advertisements, including commissioned works, general works and production music.

Letter of Authority

A form of documentation granting permissions to another person to make changes to a member's registered works or membership information, on behalf of that member.


A fee paid to APRA AMCOS that grants permission to play, perform, copy, record or make available music.

Licence Back

Although APRA AMCOS controls the performing right in a member’s songs, there are also options where the member can take back some or all of those rights if requested and self-manage or have their publisher manage on their behalf. One way to do this is to Licence Back. If a member wants to deal directly with someone in Australia or New Zealand to use one or more of their songs, APRA AMCOS will grant a Licence Back for the requested works. APRA AMCOS will still control the performing rights in the work and will continue to license all other customers. Instances where a Licence Back might be requested:

  • Arranging direct for music to be used for ‘on hold’ or on a business’ website
  • Performing for a charity event
  • Use in a film


Library Music

See Production Music.

Life of Copyright

The length of time that a work remains in copyright including the period after the copyright owner has died. In New Zealand, it continues for 50 years after death. It varies in other countries.


Appointed by a songwriter or performing artist to develop their career and manage their business needs. A manager is usually contracted by the artist and paid a percentage of their income. Some artists contract a personal manager and a business manager.

Mechanical Licence

Permission to reproduce a work in any format including CD, DVD or digital.

Mechanical Royalty

Earnings from works that are licensed for reproduction or copying and storage in different formats. This includes the copying of works by record labels or other parties to sell them in physical and digital formats.

Member Number

An APRA AMCOS member number is assigned to all publisher and writer members of APRA AMCOS and is a unique identification code that is only used for APRA AMCOS purposes.

Music Recognition Technology (MRT)

Music Recognition Technology uses audio fingerprints unique to each song to identify works, e.g., Apple’s Gracenote and Shazam. APRA AMCOS utilises MRT in some revenue streams to identify works that have been used for public performance. Currently this technology is utilised to identify jingles/music in advertisements and in some nightclubs.

OneMusic NZ

A joint initiative between APRA and Recorded Music NZ. Established to simplify the music licensing process, OneMusic NZ offers a single music licence that covers both the copyright in the music (owned by the songwriter and sometimes a Publisher) and the recording (owned by the record company or artist).

Online Portal for Uploading Songs (OPUS)

A system that allows members to upload a digital recording of their works to assist APRA AMCOS with identifying works through our Music Recognition Technology (MRT) system. Writers/composers/Publishers of jingles/music in advertisements should upload their recordings to OPUS.

Opt Out

In addition to Licence Back, a member can elect to Opt Out. This allows a member to manage the rights of their full repertoire for selected categories, such as:

  • Live performance
  • Radio broadcast
  • Public performance

APRA AMCOS will not license any uses of the member’s works in the designated category, and the member won’t receive any money from APRA AMCOS for that category of use. APRA AMCOS also will not be able to enforce a member’s rights if someone infringes the member’s copyright.

Original Composition

An entirely new piece of music that did not exist in any format beforehand and is not in any way a copy of another work.

Overseas Jingle Reporting Form (OSJRF)

This form is used to advise APRA AMCOS when a jingle has been broadcast overseas and allows us to seek out royalties for these performances from the relevant PRO.

Overseas Live Performance Report (OLPR)

This form advises APRA AMCOS of live performances that have taken place outside of Australia and New Zealand to allow us to collect royalties for these performances from the relevant PRO.
US SPECIFIC www.apra.com.au/Forms/OLPR-US/olpr-us.asp
REST OF WORLD www.apra.com.au/Forms/OLPR/olpr.asp


In terms of royalties, a performance is any instance in which a work is played, communicated or reproduced. This includes everything from live performances at venues through to works broadcast on radio or streamed on digital services.

Performance Reports

An online form submitted to APRA AMCOS by performer members who perform their original works live. The form details performances in Australia and New Zealand that were not a promoted concert (see Distributable Event).  

Performance Royalty

Earnings from works that are licensed for public performance including radio and television broadcasts, live performances and digital streaming.

Performer/Performing Artist

Someone who performs music in a public setting. A performer who is not a songwriter does not hold the rights to the musical content they are performing. They may, however, hold rights to a recording of their performance.

Performing Rights Organisation (PRO)

Public performance and communication royalties for compositions and works are collected by PROs and distributed to affiliated songwriters and publishers. Most countries around the world have a PRO that APRA AMCOS has a reciprocal agreement with, e.g., ASCAP, PRS.

Production Music

Recorded music that can be licensed to customers for use in film, TV, radio or other media. Also known as Library Music as it is often produced and owned by production music libraries.

Public Domain

The status of a work whose copyright has expired, or that never had such protection. Anyone can use material that is in the public domain without obtaining permission but no one can ever own it. All composers/authors must be out of copyright before a work can enter the public domain.

Public Performance Licence

Permission for an individual or business to play music in a public setting. Public performance licences are required in bars, restaurants, venues, gyms, cinemas and many other businesses where music is either performed live or played.


Music publishers work with songwriters and composers to support their careers and maximise royalties on their behalf. When a songwriter signs a publishing contract, they agree to assign their rights to the publisher and in turn, the publisher will take a share of any royalties earned in exchange for their services.

Publishing Agreement

A written agreement entered into between a music publisher and a songwriter/composer. The agreement outlines certain key aspects including the term, retention periods, territories and included works. There are two types of agreements: General Catalogue (GC) and Specific Works (SW). A GC Publishing agreement covers all works written by a member during the term of the contract and allows the publisher to collect a percentage share of the writer’s royalties, while an SW agreement covers works written for a particular project, or individual works specified by either the writer or publisher.

Record Label

Record labels sign artists to produce and sell their sound recordings (CD, vinyl, digital products). Depending on the deal, the label may be involved in the recording, mixing, mastering, distribution, marketing and promotion of these recordings. They will often own the ‘master recording’ of a work and all associated sound recording rights but will agree to pay the artist(s) a percentage of net sales (royalties).

Recorded Music NZ

The industry representation, advocacy and licensing organisation for New Zealand recording artists and their labels. www.recordedmusic.co.nz


The process of paying back a monetary advance made by a publisher or a record label to the songwriter/composer or recording artist.


A new work that uses elements of another pre-existing work by deconstructing and reassembling through the use of samples. There may be several remixes of one work.


Retention periods apply after a publishing agreement has been terminated. Publishers will often retain the right to claim royalties on works for a number of reasons including the recoupment of any advances paid to the songwriter/composer.

Right Holder

A right holder refers to a legal entity or person with exclusive rights to a protected copyright, trademark or patent, and the related rights of producers, performers, and broadcasters.


A percentage of the revenue earned from the sale or use of a copyrighted work, paid to the copyright holder. It can be generated in several formats including a performance royalty, mechanical royalty, print royalty or synchronisation.


The act of taking a portion or ‘sample’ of either a pre-existing sound recording or a new field recording and using it as a device in a new musical work. The copyright owner(s) of the sampled material is entitled to be credited in any new work that it is used in. When sampling, it is important to ensure you have cleared the copyright in the musical work, as well as the copyright in the sound recording.

Small Rights

APRA AMCOS automatically licenses and collects its members’ small rights. This is performances of your music at pubs, clubs, festivals and concerts or broadcasts on radio, TV (including pay TV) and the internet.

Song Splits

Also known as Writer Share, song splits refer to the contribution of individual songwriters or composers to a work and are expressed as a percentage of copyright ownership.


Someone who composes lyrics and/or melodies and chord progressions for songs to be performed by themselves or other performing artists.


A sub-publisher is appointed to administer catalogues of an original publisher (i.e. the publisher that a writer originally signed an agreement with). Original publishers may choose to appoint a sub-publisher for certain territories, or even just to alleviate their own administrative burden.

Successor in Title (SIT)

A beneficiary who collects royalties on behalf of a deceased member for the life of copyright. There are no limits to the number of SITs, e.g., a member with four children can nominate that a 25% portion go to each child.

Sync Agent and/or Music Supervisor

A synchronisation (sync) agent works with a creator to find opportunities for music placement. This could include placing their music in advertisements, TV and film, primarily in Australia but also internationally. They often represent both the recorded and mechanical side of a work.

A music supervisor works with a client like a TV production company, media agency, or brand that needs music to be placed into their content. Music supervisors source music for TV, films, advertisements, documentaries and games, and then license it from copyright owners or their representatives.

Synchronisation Licence (Sync)

A music licence granted by the copyright holder that allows their work to be used with a particular form of visual media such as film, TV, advertising and games.

Two copyrights need to be licensed:

  • the sound recording, which is the actual recording of the work, usually administered by the artist or their record label
  • the composition, written by the songwriter/composer and usually administered by the writer or their publisher


When an agreement is entered into with a publisher, the writer and publisher will agree on the specific countries/regions are covered by the agreement.  

Theme Music

Music which runs under the opening or closing credits of a film or TV show. Theme music can be composed specifically for the production or it can be a pre-existing song.

Unlogged Performances

Members can submit a form to collect revenue from music usages that fall outside of APRA AMCOS’ usual distribution analysis or self-reporting systems. Once a form is submitted it is subject to consideration by APRA AMCOS Board’s Membership and Distribution Committee.

Unregistered Work

A work that has been identified or reported as being performed, but APRA has not received a registration from any of the copyright owners of the work.

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