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Distribution information guide: Streaming services

This information guide explains how the licence fees we collect from streaming service providers like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube are paid out as royalties.

Where does the money come from?

APRA AMCOS collects licence fees from streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play, YouTube, Vevo and SoundCloud for music offered on their streaming services. In the 2019-20 financial year APRA AMCOS audio streaming revenue exceeded $120m, with streaming now the most popular way to consume music throughout the world.

APRA AMCOS also collects licence fees for music being used on Facebook (and associated properties including Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Oculus) and Les Mills.

These licences cover performing and mechanical rights, and royalties are paid to both APRA and AMCOS members using the methods described below.

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

Streaming Services

Streaming service providers send us detailed electronic files of all the songs that have been streamed on a periodic basis i.e. some reports are provided monthly, some quarterly.

Each quarter, we receive up to 6 billion rows of raw data and this number continues to grow. Due to the extremely high volume of data from streaming services, it isn’t feasible to include all reported data from every service tier (e.g. Premium Subscriber, Family, Student, etc.). To achieve a fair and equitable distribution, songs with more than 50 streams in each service tier are included in our distributions by direct allocation.

For smaller streaming services with licence fees less than $5,000, we distribute by analogy using Spotify and Apple Music data as it is not cost effective for us to process this information. In these cases, a 1,000 stream threshold is applied.

YouTube

For YouTube, we are provided with a ‘Music Asset’ report, which lists the 300,000+ songs streamed on YouTube for the quarter. YouTube also provide a second report which details music videos where music is present but has not been included in the ‘Music Asset’ report.

Facebook

Facebook provide us with quarterly reports listing individual songs and compositions that were selected from their audio library by users on Facebook and Instagram, so we can perform a distribution by direct allocation using these reports. Facebook also provides a User Generated Content report where the content being shared can be matched to songs in their library using audio recognition. Given the high volume of records reported, a minimum threshold of 50 plays per song is applied.

Live Streamed Performances

APRA’s licence agreements with Facebook and YouTube cover live music performances streamed on those platforms. As the services themselves are unable to submit the details of songs included in live streams APRA relies on claims submitted by members, for streams originating in Australia or New Zealand.

How are songs matched to the data APRA AMCOS receives?

Once received, the electronic streaming reports are directly matched to the vast repertoire of songs in our database.

Key terms used in our Distribution Rules and Practices document

Songs:
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.

Direct Allocation:
Royalties are distributed via comprehensive reporting to ensure that all reported works (subject to any thresholds that may apply) share in the distribution of the corresponding licence fees).

Full census:
the licensee provides complete reports detailing all songs played, broadcast or streamed.

Sample:
Royalties are distributed via a representative sample of performances (which may be in relation to a particular licence scheme, licence scheme or group thereof), where it is inappropriate, unfeasible, or not economically viable to provide a Direct Allocation.

Analogy:
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.