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Message from APRA Board Writer Representative Bic Runga

Media Published Saturday 4 April 2020
Bic Runga

Thank you for voting me on to the APRA board as your writer representative. I've been on two board meetings so far, and beginning to find my footing now in this new context. One thing that's been strongly apparent though, is that APRA genuinely have our interests as songwriters at heart. I've been really impressed with the senior managements' knowledge and passion for protecting our rights, keeping their own operational costs low, and making the complicated task of royalty distributions as accurate as possible.

Some good news is that APRA are working on bringing the Live Performance distribution forward, from November to May. It's important you submit any outstanding live performance returns right away. Also, please know that almost everyone who has suffered a 30% loss of income, either in the past month or in projected earnings, is eligible as a sole trader for the government wage subsidy. There should be no shame in applying for this. Think of it as an essential bail out from an uncontrollable crisis, one that for once will benefit you and not the banks! I think you should all follow the links to see if you're eligible, it's most likely you will be.

With so many industries facing huge losses and redundancies to prepare for what we're all accepting to be a major recession, I want to remind you that as artists, it was always hard for us. We are an inherently resilient bunch, most of us already working without much support or security. Your job as a self employed musician is as secure as your own work ethic, adaptability, honing of skills, and imagination allow it to be. Where the global downturn will largely be one of supply, as music creators, most of us already have what we need, in isolation, to continue making our "product." The music industry will recover better with high quality work, which only you are in control of.

While we all know there's no good news to report about our live music industry, it is hopeful to note that music streaming is almost unaffected by the present global crisis. Platforms like Ditto, Believe or DRM are there to help you aggregate your music. Youtube remains the biggest music platform in the world, and everyone of course has the tools to use this. For film and tv composers who have lost work because of the cessation of film production, I personally regard you as some of our most technically skilled, and would love to hear your expertise in other compositions that you've always been meaning to make.

There's a dark joke among the Italians as they suffered through this crisis ahead of us, that you would either come out of lockdown with a divorce or a third child! Well I hope for the sake of our industry that you all come out of this with a new song. At least just one, but a real banger! If you take some time out from the bad news and set yourself up to write, you'll probably find there's a real gem waiting to come out. Let your music practice be your meditation and solace, I know it always makes me feel my happiest.

Kia kaha my friends! Please let's prove that our industry can survive this by keeping heart and an ethos of creative excellence! If this has sounded like a "your country needs you" kind of piece, well it is. My main goal in this role is to prove that the music industry should be recognised and supported as potentially one of our greatest exports. Now is not the right time to fall down in a heap. People are turning to great, real, desirable music to get themselves though this, it really is needed now more than ever.