APRA AMCOS and the PPCA
For OneMusic Australia
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OneMusic Australia has been nominated for:
Having the most complicated set of guidelines developed in probably the last 40 years;
Claiming to represent local musicians and then sending most of the money it collects to America;
Claiming that listening to music on headphones is a public performance;
Charging businesses if music is audible in their car park.
The story of OneMusic and why we don't like them
In July 2019, after a two year gestation period, The Australasian Performing Rights Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS) and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) finally gave birth to their new baby, OneMusic Australia. OneMusic is touted as a “one stop shop” where businesses can get a licence to play copyrighted music. Previously you had to get separate licences from each organisation – one for the musical work and one for the sound recording. So what’s so bad about OneMusic – shouldn't it be a reduction in red tape? Well, no. Here's the problem:
A web of complexity
Firstly, you need 5 hours, a team of legal experts, a mathematician and a wizard to work out how much you're supposed to pay. (OK, you might not need a wizard, but it would sure help). OneMusic has 24 categories of licences for different sectors, each with several tiers of licences and add-ons. For example, the retail and service provider category lists at least 28 different licence options. Platinum, gold, silver, bronze, sapphire, diamond, zinc, lithium… oh please!
And the metrics used to calculate licence fees inexplicably differ between licence categories: retailers pay according to the size of their floor space in square metres, restaurants pay according to the number of patrons they are licenced to seat, bars have go and count how many devices they use to play music, and gyms pay by number of members. But that’s only for background music. You’ll have to make another calculation all together for live music, “featured music,” music on your website, and music on telephone hold systems. Hence the need for the mathematician. And the wizard.
Aiding and abetting
Secondly, they mislead you into breaking your end user agreements with personal streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. On page 2 of the Retail Guide, it says that if you take out a Gold licence you’re covered for “an online stream or a music download via a personal digital music service or other online source.”
“Great,” you think, “I’ll pay that and then make a Spotify playlist to play in my business. How simple!”
But then at the very bottom of page 4 in the small font section, the guide warns that “even with our licence, the use of these services by you in your business may be in breach of the terms and conditions of your end user agreement with that service.”
Um – what?! That’s right: it turns out that Spotify and Apple Music both say you can’t use their services in a business. OneMusic doesn’t actually have the authority to “licence” people to use them in that way and are just using it as another way to make money. And it’s a system that cheats smaller artists of their royalties while raking in money for the major labels.
And, finally, the icing on the cake – they try to trick businesses into paying for things we don’t have to pay for!
Any normal, reasonable individual would be forgiven for reading the phrase “you need cover for Workplace Music if you allow your employees to play music in the workplace (including via radios, streaming services and CDs) whether the music is played on speakers or via headsets and earphones” and thinking that it means that you have to pay if you allow your employees to play music in the workplace (including via radios, streaming services and CDs) whether the music is played on speakers or via headsets and earphones.
Any normal, reasonable individual would be forgiven for reading the phrase "Music in Car Parks only applies in indoor or outdoor car parks where music is audible to those customers who are parking" and thinking that it means you have to pay if you have an indoor or outdoor car park where music is audible to those customers who are parking.
This understandably leads to anger and confusion. In what world is someone listening to music on earphones a “public performance?” What gives OneMusic the right to charge for that? And what gives them the right to charge someone an additional fee if their music is loud enough to be heard from a car park? Is this not a scam?
“But no, don’t be silly, of course it isn’t!” say the lovely, well-meaning staff members of APRA AMCOS (to COSBOA, when we asked).
Apparently, by “via headsets and earphones” they actually mean that you have to pay when you host a silent disco for your employees (where they all listen to the same music at the same time but on headphones). You know, because that happens all the time and is totally clear in the licence guide – not.
And "audible" doesn't actually mean "able to be heard" (who knew), it means you have to pay if you play music from speakers that are located in the car park. You know, because that's totally a thing that people do and is totally clear in the licence guide. We all run raves in our car parks.
A scam? We think so – def.