Licensing your music yourself – APRA’s Licence Back and Opt Out processes

Thursday, 13 Nov 2014

One of the primary benefits of becoming a member of APRA is that you can rely on us to license your music on your behalf, monitor the use of your music by others, collect licence fees payable for those uses and pay your APRA royalties through to you.  Hopefully this translates to less admin for you, leaving you more time to create more amazing music, which is how it should be!

However, there may be times in your career when you wish to deal directly with a music user and grant them a licence to use your music yourself, rather than through APRA.  For example you might be directly commissioned to write music for a music-on-hold service. Or perhaps you may want to license your favourite charity to use a particular song of yours for free. 

In these circumstances, before you can license the performing rights in your music yourself, you need to take the rights back from us, first.  We provide two options for members who want to take back the rights in their music – we call these options Licence Back and Opt Out.

Licence Back

Licence Back is a flexible process which allows members to license one or more of their songs to a particular user for a particular purpose.  All you have to do is fill out our online Licence Back form, tell us who, when and what you are licensing (so we don’t try to license the same business for the same thing). Then you can proceed.  However please note that for most Licence Back applications, you will need to give APRA at least one week’s notice of the use. And for complex Licence Back applications that involve multiple works and co-writers, we reserve the right to charge a small administration fee of up to $200.

Opt Out

Opt Out is a more rigid process. It allows our members to remove their entire repertoire of works from APRA for a particular use. This gives members complete control of all their works, worldwide, for that type of use. You will be able to grant licences to anyone for that use, on your terms, or you may choose not to license the works at all.  APRA needs at least three months’ notice of an Opt Out. And if the Opt Out application is complex, we reserve the right to charge a small administration fee of up to $200.

Regardless of whether you choose to Licence Back or Opt Out, if you choose to deal directly with users of your music, remember that APRA will no longer be able to enforce your rights or collect licence fees for those uses. You may want to get your own legal advice about this.

More info

If you have any questions at all about licensing your rights directly or whether Licence Back or Opt Out is the right option for you, please read our plain English guide or contact Hannah Karkkainen in our Membership team on 1800 642 634 or

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