Not a member yet? Join APRA AMCOS

Already started a Writer Member application? Continue

Tips of the Trade: digital licensing and claiming live stream royalties

Story Published Tuesday 12 May 2020

Just played? Submit your setlists for AU/NZ live streams on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube

With the current COVID-19 worldwide situation the ‘passive’ royalties that come from digital are more crucial to music creators than ever before, as is bringing your live show and content to online platforms in innovative ways. So here’s a summary of how digital licensing works at APRA AMCOS, plus new information on how to maximise the use of your music digitally and (!) claim the live performance royalty for your live streaming.

1. Media licensing at APRA AMCOS covers three areas of revenue sources

  • Digital
  • Broadcast
  • Recorded

2. Digital licensing - the basics

It’s our job to negotiate licence agreements with digital service providers outlining the rights granted, any restrictions on those rights and payment and reporting terms.

We continue to be approached by new music and video services as people are always looking for new ways to monetise content.

3. A lot of you are doing live streams and you can now submit Performance Reports for your FB, Insta, YT live sets

Good news: we've updated the specific guidelines around live streams for members and licensees.

Even better news: members can now claim royalties for Australian or New Zealand based live performances of your works, streamed on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.

This an interim solution to address the lack of live gigs possible during COVID-19. Keep setlists as you would for any gig you play in New Zealand and/or Australia and submit via this form. Contact [email protected] with questions.

Please note that any royalties payable will be subject to APRA AMCOS’ distribution policies.

Licence fees collected by APRA AMCOS from individuals/businesses delivering live streamed music concerts will be distributed in accordance with the reporting that we receive and APRA AMCOS distribution policies.

Please contact the Media Licensing team at [email protected] with your questions. They are receiving a large volume of questions, but please know they are there to help and will be in touch.

4. Is Netflix a streaming service?

While you do stream content via Netflix, it falls under the VOD (Video On Demand) category, more specifically Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD).

SVOD has quickly become a game-changing way to access video entertainment content and it has rapid revenue growth in a relatively short time frame. Revenue from the category grew 41.8% in the 2018-19 financial year to $26.1m.

Streaming: Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Apple Music, Soundcloud, etc

Video on demand: Stan, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, etc

5. Where the audio revenue comes from: radio, streaming, downloads

Audio Streaming accounted for $105 million in revenue for Australia and New Zealand in the 2018/19 financial year, up 28.2% from the previous year. Radio remains an important revenue generator for our members, with 2018/19 revenue at $45.7million.

APRA AMCOS licenses downloads, but revenue is declining 30% each year. Primary services are Apple Store, Google Play and Beatport, which are often used by DJs and media professionals to source music.

The licence scheme for downloads is approved by the Australian Copyright Tribunal for digital music services. This means the rates per download are the same for all download services.

6. What is the royalty rate for an audio stream?

Per stream rates vary between services and depend on the total number of streams reported in a period and the royalties collected.

Ditto Music recently wrote up an overview on this, with handy calculator tools.

7. User Generated Content – it’s come a long way

We have licence agreements in place with Facebook and YouTube for their User Generated Content (UGC) platforms. This means that New Zealand, Australian, and international songwriters, composers and music publishers are now remunerated for the use of their music on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Oculus, and Messenger. (Hence, number 3 above).

UGC revenue has increased substantially over the past few years - for the 2018-19 financial year Websites and UGC accounted for $35.3m in revenue, up 61.2% from the previous year.

8. Ensure your music is UGC-ready, an aggregator can help

Gyrostream CEO Andy Irvine explains:

When an artist uploads their music for distribution to streaming platforms, there is a set minimum of mandatory fields to ensure your music displays accurately. In terms of APRA AMCOS reporting, artists need to ensure the ISRC code they use for distribution is exactly the same one they register with APRA, and to ensure all songwriter credits are added accurately when you upload your music for distribution.

Ensure that your aggregator is able to deliver to UGC platforms including YouTube and Facebook for their Content ID services. These content ID services analyse your song and create a fingerprint of your music which is referenced against every piece of user generated content uploaded. If your music is matched to one of these uploads, the content is monetised and you can generate royalties on the views/streams. These royalties that your earn for your music being used in other videos will flow back to you via your Aggregator.

Sarah Hamilton, Ditto Music, Regional Manager Australia and New Zealand gave this tip:

Content ID and tracking of copyright and content across platforms is a really big job, but a lot of DSPs use audio fingerprinting to make it easier. Sometimes this will mean you might get a copyright notice when uploading to Facebook for example, if you own the copyright just click that option, it basically means that your aggregator has delivered your music to various content ID platforms to ensure it's monetized when possible.

You never know when a song can break really quickly so it's important to ensure your music is protected and monetzied wherever possible.

Refresher on how the royalties flow:

9. What else does an aggregator do?

Andy Irvine, Gyrostream:

Aggregators have three primary roles:

  • Deliver music quickly and accurately
  • Provide great customer support, and
  • Ensure artists are paid on time

Independent artists still need to manage their own marketing and release campaigns to give themselves the best chance of success. Many aggregators provide great advice on this, but ultimately its up to the artists to execute these plans. Artists need to plan ahead and ensure their release is uploaded to their aggregator long before the release date (2 weeks minimum).

Sarah Hamilton, Ditto Music:

An aggregator will help you get your music onto global platforms, and report all of the sales and streams back to you.

You need an aggregator in order to get your music published to these sites, so it's about choosing the one that works for you. If you have a global focus, perhaps an aggregator with global offices will suit you. If you would like extra promotion - check to see if they offer PR, radio or DSP pitching services (where the aggregator can try to get your music placed on playlists across the services).

Usually really artist-focused and with artist-friendly deals and terms, aggregators are there to get your music delivered and heard across Australia and the globe. I think artists are generally doing a great job - I always suggest they self-educate and make sure they are across Spotify for Artists, Apple Music for Artists and any of the tools the platforms provide.

Further reading:

10. What about using samples?

Whether your music is used in another work or vice versa, remember to always get permissions in writing.

Once a song’s details are agreed on, make sure the song is registered correctly and that metadata reflects that…so that the royalties can flow.