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Distribution information guide: Music on hold

This information guide explains how the licence fees we collect from businesses using music on hold are paid out as royalties.

Where does the money come from?

APRA AMCOS collects licence fees from a large number of businesses in Australia and New Zealand for the use of music on hold.

What information does APRA AMCOS use to determine who should be paid?

Given the many small businesses that are licensed for this type of music use, it would be inefficient and unreasonably burdensome to collect detailed music use reports from all these licensees. Instead, we commissioned ACNielsen to conduct a survey of 4,000 business premises. This survey identified three main sources of music used for music on hold systems: radio, recorded music and specially made advertisements/jingles. Using this information, APRA allocates royalties first to member claims (e.g. where they have been commission to write hold music for a particular organisation), then of the balance on an analogous basis;

In Australia:

  • 78% is allocated to radio (split 89% to commercial radio, 11% to ABC radio)
  • 22% is allocated to Classic FM
  • 4.9% is allocated to Production Music

In New Zealand:

  • 76.42% is allocated to radio
  • 23.58% is allocated to National Concert Radio

AMCOS licence fees are collected from some businesses for music on hold, where required and are distributed by analogy to a discrete pool using Spotify and Apple Music data.

How are songs matched to the data APRA AMCOS receives?

The song matching process takes place within the distribution pools that this revenue is allocated to.

Key terms used in our Distribution Rules and Practices document

The Copyright Act refers to compositions, musical scores in the form of sheet music, broadsheets or other notation as musical works. Lyrics or words to a song are considered literary works. When we refer to songs, we are referring to all the elements of a musical/literary work protected by copyright.

Royalties are distributed via distribution pools (or by copying datasets) that are most similar in terms of a licensee’s music content. This method is used when Direct Allocation or Sample reporting is impractical.