Guide To Understanding APRA

Guide To Understanding APRA

APRA is the Australian music body that licences businesses and ventures to play music made by Australian and (international artists). They also sort out things like royalties and returns, ensuring artists get paid when music users play their music. triple j Unearthed spoke to Greg Morrow from the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) to help you find out everything you need to know about how much and how often artists can earn royalties, how to register, and heaps more. 

What is APRA?

APRA is the Australasian Performing Right Association – we licence music users and distribute this money as royalties to songwriters and composers throughout Australasia to our members and the world to our affiliates.

Why do artists join APRA?

Songwriters and composers join APRA to collect their due royalties from whenever their music is performed live, broadcast on radio or television, downloaded or via any of our many distribution systems.

Where does the money come from to pay artists?

We licence music users – so business owners, radio or TV stations, pub and clubs – anyone who is making money from using music in their business.

What are the different types of returns?

Most of our systems are reported directly by the music user – like when a radio station sends in logs of what they play. But we do have some self-reporting schemes – our biggest is the Live Performance Return system. Members need to let APRA know every time they perform their songs in public venues – it’s due once a year, paid once a year and makes a lot of shiny happy people out there in time for Christmas.

So, do I get sent a cheque if I get one play on radio? How much?

Most of APRA’s distribution schemes are really technical – it depends on when, where, how and what. So it’s never a set rate for when your music is used. With radio, the monies come out of a radio pool – it’s dependant on whether that radio station is required to report 100% of their music, or less – like for community radio. Then it depends how much of the song you wrote. Then it depends on whether you remembered to tell APRA you changed banks.

What about TVs, movies and commercials?

TV is similar to radio, in that it depends on the usage. With TV, we need a cue sheet from the production company/composer or network, then we need the logs of what was aired from the network, THEN we need the work to be registered. And so on and so on. Cinema is similar – but these royalties come from Box Office profits, which are notoriously low, most cinemas make their profits from the Candy Bar. With commercials, we call these “Jingles” – they’re also a self reporting scheme, so when a member writes a song, or gets one of their existing songs turned into a Jingle – they need to report this to APRA. It’s once a year and paid once a year.

How do you monitor it all?

Here at APRA we have a massive Member Services department – it’s comprised of various departments like Research, Distribution, International and Membership - where I’m from. All of these departments work together to know what is getting played, where it is getting played, what might not be coming through to us and whose cages we need to rattle to get it. APRA is always about getting the most bang for the buck for our members – we’re not for profit after all.

What about DJs playing songs in clubs?

Well DJs have been able to self report the tracks they play in clubs for a long time now, through the Live Performance Return system – but we were also distributing for these performances by using the ARIA Club Charts. As this system is self reporting, we wanted to move towards a way of tracking more music used by way of Music Recognition Technology. There have been some hiccups – so we’re working with various members of the dance music industry to find the best way of distributing these monies to our hard working DJ members.

How do you register?

You register online! We have an online application system – applications can get processed in as little as two days! But if anyone has any trouble, they can always call or email our offices – we have Representatives in nearly every state and territory in Australia.

To hear more info on everything above, as well as Chris' thoughts on expenses, what equipment you need to perform live, examples of all ages events to get involved with, and heaps more just head on over to our Soundcloud or listen to the full interview right here.