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Australian collecting societies announce plans for combined public performance licence

By | Published on Thursday 15 December 2016


The Australian music industry’s two collecting societies – the record industry’s PPCA and the music publishing sector’s APRA/AMCOS – have announced plans to launch a single public performance licensing system in the country under the name OneMusic Australia.

The new initiative mirrors that launched by the New Zealand side of APRA with that country’s record industry rights society, PPNZ, back in 2013, which also goes by the name OneMusic. Quite how similar the two OneMusic ventures will be in operational terms will depend on the outcome of the “intense industry consultation” that the two Australian societies say they will now conduct with regards how the Australian single public performance licence for music should work.

Many corporate customers of music don’t really understand the difference between the two sets of music rights – ie the copyright in songs and the separate copyright in recordings – and so don’t understand why they need two licences to play recordings of songs in public. Even those who do understand the difference often argue that a key point of collective licensing – where groups of rights owners license as one – is to simplify the process for licensees, so why add the complexity of licensing song and recording rights separately?

The UK music societies – PPL on the recordings side and PRS on the songs side – have also followed the lead of their New Zealand counterparts and will next year launch a combined public performance licence covering the playing of recordings in public, having already dabbled with a small number of combined licences in the past. Restructuring has begun behind the scenes for the joint venture that will now administer that combined licence.

These developments don’t mean that the song and recording societies are actually merging – money will flow from the joint venture to the individual societies and from there to the rights owners. But the aim is that for licensees – especially smaller licensees – the process is simpler, and no one need know that there are two sets of music rights, and in effect two music rights industries, one for songs and one for recordings.

Confirming the OneMusic Australia plan, the bosses of PPCA and APRA/AMCOS – Dan Rosen and Brett Cottle respectively – said in a joint statement yesterday: “[We] are pleased to announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding to develop a single public performance licensing scheme under the brand OneMusic Australia, to be launched in the second half of 2018”.

They went on: “The two industry rights management organisations have responded directly to the administration needs of hundreds of thousands of Australian businesses using music in preparing for a single-licence scheme and e-commerce facility, covering both the recording and musical work rights”.

“Our investment in sophisticated ecommerce solutions means that public performance music customers will enjoy a much simpler process for obtaining, managing, reporting on and paying for the licences they need for their businesses”, they added. “This follows the successful introduction of OneMusic NZ three years ago, which was warmly welcomed by licensees. The next eighteen months will be a period of intense industry consultation on how best to merge two existing licensing structures equitably and efficiently into one single-licence offering per sector”.