Response to statements by COSBOA CEO Peter Strong made at National Press Club

Wednesday, 05 Aug 2020

APRA AMCOS was disheartened to see COSBOA CEO Peter Strong once again make incorrect public statements about the licensing of music in Australia at his National Press Club address on 29 July.

We will continue to correct the public record where we can and have summarised responses to the allegations made at the National Press Club below. We have regularly engaged with Mr Strong and have recommended an independent dispute resolution process to assist with relations between our two organisations. Mr Strong refused to participate.

The risk of Mr Strong continually repeating false and misleading statements about music licensing, including the allegation that music licensing is a “scam”, puts the work and livelihoods of our 103,000 songwriter and music publisher members, who are all small businesses or sole-traders, in jeopardy.  

We once again invite COSBOA to work with APRA AMCOS on a ‘play it Australian’ campaign to ensure that local songwriters and publishers can benefit from being proudly played across every business in the country.

Statement by Peter Strong

“APRA AMCOS and OneMusic Australia are shadow regulators.”

Correction

This is false. APRA AMCOS is a music rights management organisation with boards comprised solely of songwriter and music publisher members who are voted on by our membership of 103,000 members from across Australia and New Zealand.  Those members have chosen to appoint APRA AMCOS to license their music rights to businesses that use their music.

APRA AMCOS is itself heavily regulated. It is a company limited by guarantee, subject to the Corporations Act. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Copyright Tribunal and is regulated under the Code of Conduct for Collecting Societies. Certain aspects of APRA’s arrangements are authorised by the ACCC, subject to conditions with which APRA must comply.

In Australia music creators generally authorise two organisations to administer their performing rights - APRA AMCOS (composers and music publishers) and PPCA (recording artists and record labels).

OneMusic Australia was launched in July 2019 so that APRA AMCOS’ and PPCA’s rights are bundled into one licence and simplify the process of gaining the required permission to use music. OneMusic Australia licence schemes are set following consultation and negotiation with industry groups. OneMusic Australia has established different licence schemes for the different ways those industries use music.

Statement by Peter Strong

“APRA AMCOS and OneMusic Australia have the highest copyright rates for music in the world.”

Correction

This is false. A comparative study of music licence fees in Australia, Canada, UK, France, US, Ireland and New Zealand shows that music licensing in Australia is the lowest for retail businesses, the third lowest for hotels and bars, and the median for restaurants.

We acknowledge that the rates for the use of music in nightclubs in Australia are high as compared to some other countries.  The existing rate was considered and determined by the Copyright Tribunal on an independent basis after hearing evidence and arguments from both copyright owners and music users. We are currently consulting with nightclubs on the rates for music in those businesses.

A OneMusic licence provides the easiest and most cost-effective way to access the vast majority of the world’s repertoire of commercially released music. There are other options, which may include direct licensing arrangements with copyright owners or solely using music outside the OneMusic repertoire.

Statement by Peter Strong

“80 per cent - but I’ve been told sometimes 90-93 per cent of the money [APRA AMCOS and OneMusic Australia] collect goes to other countries. It doesn’t go to Australia.”

Correction

This is false. Around 6 in every 10 dollars of APRA AMCOS licence fees collected are paid to local songwriters and music publishers. This includes payments to local publishers for international works and the local publishers would then on-pay a portion of that revenue to publishers overseas. In FY19 APRA AMCOS paid almost $300m to domestic songwriters and music publisher businesses.

Royalties do go overseas because APRA AMCOS has international agreements to ensure songwriters, regardless of their location, get the rightful payment for the use of their work. That way Australian and New Zealand songwriters receive international payments as well.

That’s why we promote Australian and New Zealand music exports as well as actively encourage music users in Australia and New Zealand to play as much local music as they can to ensure local creators receive more royalties for their music.


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