Categories: News

APRA Responds on New Performance Royalty Splits: ‘Discussions With Members Have Been Constructive’

Published by
Lars Brandle

APRA’s decision to break with its traditional splits for concert royalties is now deep in the discussion stage with members, with those talks “constructive” and many “understanding the rationale” for the change, reps for the collecting society say.

As previously reported by The Music Network, APRA is moving ahead with a new distribution practice for major concerts, those where APRA licenses the promoter directly.

In a nutshell, the support acts will earn less from the performance of the songs, the headliners will earn more.

Of course, the vast majority of support acts for major concerts in these parts are homegrown talent. It’s their bank balances that’ll experience a sinking feeling.

Through the new development, songs performed by support acts at major concerts in Australia and New Zealand will be allocated a 20% split of APRA royalties from the concert, whereas songs performed by the headliner will be allocated 80% of the royalties.

Until now, the system was roughly split at 66/33. Though, according to the performing rights organisation, in some territories the support act receives only a 10% cut, with the headliner taking the remaining 90%.

The times, they are a changing.

The new splits will apply to concert royalties distributed from November this year, but don’t apply to events those festivals that APRA licenses.

In a statement issued overnight, Alison Wright, APRA AMCOS head of membership, explained that APRA was out of step with international distribution practices, and the revenue stream was at risk of direct licensing, a ploy that would cut APRA and its members out of the action.

“Our main goal has been to retain revenue and preserve royalties in Australia and New Zealand for local artists by reducing the incentive for direct licensing,” Wright explained.

“Direct licensing can occur when an affiliate society opts to enter a direct agreement with the promoter on behalf of their songwriter members,” Wright added. 

“We recognise that Australian and New Zealand support acts have benefited from our previous approach to royalty splits and it has been important to balance this change against the approach taken by other collecting societies. Our discussions with members have been constructive with many understanding the rationale for the change.”

APRA said in the consulting phase members and their managers were asked for feedback on moving to a 75/25 or 80/20 split.

The changes have been approved by the APRA board, and, as reported earlier, APRA is pushing ahead with communicating its changes with members and their managers.

TMN has heard from artist managers who are concerned that the music community, already struggling with a multitude of challenges – from spiking freight costs through to a national singles chart bereft of local creations – is squared-up for another gut punch. 

Lars Brandle

Lars Brandle has reported at the frontline of the international music industry for over 20 years. A former musician, Lars joined the American music trade “bible” Billboard in 2000 and went on to serve as Global News Editor, based in London. Now Billboard’s Australia correspondent and senior writer with The Brag Media, Lars has appeared on CNN, the BBC and ABC, American Public Media and South Africa's EastCoast Radio, and he has spoken at Midem in Cannes, Music Matters in Singapore, Amsterdam Dance Event, London's City Showcase and at industry gatherings on both sides of the Tasman. His works have been published by Reuters, Media Week, Spin, and The Hollywood Reporter, and he has featured as a pundit in the Australian Financial Review, Business Review Weekly and Britain’s The Independent.

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