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How music copyright works

Learn how copyrighting music works and our role in collecting licence fees and distributing royalties to music creators.

Music rights & royalties

Copyright is free and automatic. Copyright is there from the moment you write down or record the song you've created.

The New Zealand Copyright Act gives music copyright owners a number of exclusive rights. Nobody else can use the work without getting the owner’s permission first, and if necessary, paying a royalty for this use.

APRA AMCOS represents 2 basic rights that apply to songs and compositions.

Performing right (APRA)

The PERFORMING right is exercised when a song or composition is performed in public.

This includes:

  • Played live at a gig, concert or festival
  • Broadcast on TV or radio
  • Streamed on digital services
  • Played in a shop or restaurant
  • Viewed on YouTube
  • Used in an exercise class

Reproduction right (AMCOS)

The REPRODUCTION right is exercised when a song or composition is copied in any form for commercial purposes.

This includes:

  • Third party commercial products (e.g. a record label via CD, vinyl, DVD, cassette, stream, and download)
  • Synchronising an existing song with a film or TV programme
  • Sheet music

Music rights management organisations

APRA AMCOS is a music rights management organisation. That means we act as a link between those who create and own the copyright in musical works, and those who want to use it.

APRA AMCOS vs. Recorded Music NZ – what’s the difference?

APRA AMCOS administers the performing and some of the reproduction rights in songs and compositions, Recorded Music NZ administers the performing and some of the production rights in ‘sound recordings’ on behalf of record companies and recording artists.

Take the song ‘Nature’ by The Fourmyula as an example. Wayne Mason wrote ‘Nature’ in 1969. However, in 1992, The Mutton Birds released a cover version of the song ‘Nature,’ from their debut album. APRA AMCOS collect royalties for Wayne Mason because he wrote the song, and Recorded Music NZ collect royalties for the owner of the original Formyula recording as well as the owner of The Mutton Birds recording as they are separate master recordings owned by separate record labels

Learn more about Recorded Music New Zealand.

Who's OneMusic

OneMusic is an APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music New Zealand joint licensing initiative launched in 2013.

OneMusic New Zealand offers joint public performance licences so there is no longer any need for separate licence agreements and invoices from Recorded Music NZ and APRA AMCOS. OneMusic allows music users to more seamlessly meet their copyright obligations for the public performance of musical works, sound recordings and music videos. Learn more about OneMusic.