Year in Review: impact of bushfires and COVID-19 starts to hit music royalties

Thursday, 15 Oct 2020

Projected revenue for music downgraded
Digital remains robust with $206m revenue
Record international revenue $54.4m

  • $474.5m group revenue, a downgraded financial year result due to bushfires and COVID-19
  • $407.3 million royalties payable to songwriters, publishers, affiliated societies and rights holders (net distributable revenue), down 0.9%
  • $206m digital revenue, 17.4% year on year growth
  • $54.4m biggest international revenue result ever
  • 48,578 APRA members earned royalties in Australia; and 21,709 APRA members earned overseas royalties – more than ever before
  • OneMusic Australia marks one-year anniversary, lends support to licensees during bushfires and COVID-19
  • Top 50 streaming charts for Australia and New Zealand revealed for the first time

Bushfires and COVID-19 had a material impact on Australasian music rights management organisation APRA AMCOS’ $474.5m Group Revenue result. The 0.6% increase from the year prior was down $14.4m on the budgeted figure of $488.9m. With restrictions remaining on live music, concerts and touring, music royalties are expected to take a more substantial hit in 2020-21.

Public performance income (including live music and concerts) was the hardest hit revenue category with $73m of income, down from last year’s $92.4m. While OneMusic Australia launched on 1 July 2019 to high demand and an exceptional uptake of the one-stop music licence, the year’s disruptions were felt broadly across most industries licensed by OneMusic, in particular live, concerts, hospitality, fitness, airlines and cinema. OneMusic Australia provided much-needed licence fee relief where businesses were forced to close for a period.

Diverse revenue streams from the licensing side of APRA AMCOS’ business, bolstered by the continued strength of digital, helped to weather the ongoing storm.

In a first for APRA AMCOS, this Year In Review report reveals the Top 50 Australian and Top 50 New Zealand songs streamed in each country over the year, with Tones And I and Flume topping the Australian streaming charts and Drax Project, Six60 and BENEE topping the New Zealand streaming charts.

Revenue from digital sources (audio streaming, video-on-demand, UGC/social media) was the top earning category for the third year running, with a total $206m accounting for 43.4% of APRA AMCOS income. Multi-territory digital licensing saw phenomenal growth in the Asian market as more than one trillion music uses were processed on behalf of rights holders.

Income of $54.4m in international revenue was the highest annual amount ever, a reflection of the global success of homegrown chart-topping music creators including Tones And I, Jawsh 685, Joel Little, Sia, 5 Seconds of Summer and Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala. The natural timing in international earnings means that the revenue impact of the pandemic – which has been mirrored across the world - will not be felt until FY2021.

At home, APRA AMCOS took several measures to support thousands of songwriter and composer members whose livelihoods took a substantial blow, particularly those who earn from the live and touring sector.

"Individual and collective resilience has been tested and we’ve had to adapt quickly,” said APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston.

"As the bushfires devastated enormous areas of Australia, and then COVID-19 spread across the globe, we moved quickly to provide direct support and advocate to government the plight of those that live and work in the original gig economy."

Support included:

  • Early Performance Reports payment to members
    • The annual royalty due to be paid in November 2020, was fast-tracked to May
  •  Sustainability Fund put $650,000 into members’ pockets
    • One-time $2,000 grants were paid to 225 members before close of financial year; balance of fund paid in FY 20-21
  • Government relations and advocacy including the Music Industry Open Letter
  • Reduction in operating costs and overheads
  • Creation of new licences for online performances

In his second year as Chief Executive, Ormston thanked the APRA AMCOS Australia and New Zealand teams and representatives in London, Los Angeles and Nashville for moving so quickly to adapt to remote working and maintaining a ‘service first’ approach to the organisations’ songwriter, composer and publisher members, and licensees.
 
Increased government relations activity included key meetings with the Prime Minister, Treasurer and Arts Minister, collaboration with key partners across the arts, cultural and creative industries and coordination of an open letter to the federal government signed by more than 1,200 music artists, workers and businesses which led to the announcement of a $250m package for arts and entertainment, including live music, announced in June.
 
“Musicians and the music industry are always amongst the first to lend a hand to support, lift spirits and raise funds to rebuild community. The COVID-19 context has turned the tables and musicians have needed to put a call out for the support of governments and the rest of the community,” said Ormston.
 
“Music will be a critical part of the social, cultural and economic recovery of both Australia and New Zealand. As we move to recovery, it is now time for government to fully realise the economic, cultural and social return of the music sector.
 
“Our music industry is, by definition, a fast moving, dynamic, agile, locally invested and globally facing industry. Now more than ever there is an opportunity to redefine and build the local and international opportunity for the local music industry, based on an integrated whole-of-government approach that fully reflects music’s impact across society.
 
“It is the breadth and diversity of our membership and industry that creates community, strength and opportunity for all. We look forward to contributing to the rebuild of a better, stronger, sustainable music industry.”

  

Read the full report 2019-20
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