Why clubs are banning Aussie music

THE Glitter Strip bar and nightclub lobby plans to lead a national boycott of Australian music, saying a proposed new royalties model will result in "crippling" fees.

A new partnership of three national bodies collecting royalties for Australian and international artists has proposed a new pricing structure but it has outraged bar bosses.

The new joint entity OneMusic Australia admits it has added estimated Consumer Price Index rises to the new fee and removed fee-per-patron charges. Instead fees will be charged solely based on a bar's "capacity" whether the venue fills up or not.

The Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association is leading national hospitality lobby fury at proposed changes to music royalties charged to nightclubs for playing recorded music for dancing.
The Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association is leading national hospitality lobby fury at proposed changes to music royalties charged to nightclubs for playing recorded music for dancing.

A 500-person capacity club trading six days a week would see its music bill double from $150,000 annually to almost $300,000, the bar and nightclub industry has estimated.

Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association president Tim Martin said talks were underway with counterparts in Melbourne for an Aussie artist boycott in protest and joint court action by venues.

OneMusic argues on average fees will drop but that isn't the industry's interpretation.

"It is significantly higher than what we are paying now," Mr Martin said.

Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association president Tim Martin: “Everyone is in panic mode. The fee structure and how they are trying to jam us is going to wipe out a lot of venues.” Picture: Richard Gosling
Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association president Tim Martin: “Everyone is in panic mode. The fee structure and how they are trying to jam us is going to wipe out a lot of venues.” Picture: Richard Gosling

"The worst part is we aim to play 30 per cent Australian music," he said. "They are supposed to be there to support the Australian music industry.

"Everyone is in panic mode. The fee structure and how they are trying to jam us is going to wipe out a lot of venues."

In a letter to Glitter Strip bar bosses, Mr Martin writes it would no longer be viable to trade midweek: "At best you may trade Friday and Saturday if you are not forced to close completely.

"We may need a fighting fund from all venues as I'm confident if we were to challenge OneMusic it would go to the High Court."

Surfers Paradise bars are threatening to ditch Aussie music off playlists in protest at new royalty fees they claim will see their bills almost double. Photographer Claire Sewell.
Surfers Paradise bars are threatening to ditch Aussie music off playlists in protest at new royalty fees they claim will see their bills almost double. Photographer Claire Sewell.

OneMusic is a partnership of the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS) and Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). As it stands, APRA bases its nightclub fees on attendance while the PPCA charges based on capacity.

In a statement on behalf of OneMusic, APRA head of revenue Richard Mallett said the proposed new licensing fee was "per person, per night of operation for each person of the venue's capacity".

No more INXS...
No more INXS...

Asked if it would see nightclub bills rise, he didn't deny it, replying: "The development of a single licence under one set of terms and conditions will be of great benefit to businesses including nightclubs."

The average "fee fluctuation" for venues using recorded music for dancing would be a drop of 3.8 per cent, he said.

No more AC/DC... (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
No more AC/DC... (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

"The proposed fees are just that. We envisage licensees will want to make submissions," Mr Mallett's statement said.

"For years, businesses have been asking for a more simplified approach to obtaining and paying for music licences.

"APRA AMCOS and PPCA have listened. OneMusic Australia is being developed to bring a simple, modern solution to music copyright licensing and compliance."

No more Powderfinger... Picture: Stephanie Bennett
No more Powderfinger... Picture: Stephanie Bennett

It would halve administrative time a venue had to spend on its music licensing, he said.

"Venues which restrict their premises to different capacities on different days will have the ability to declare those."

Consultation closes on November 26, with any changes expected to kick in next year.

New Royalty plan for dummies

OneMusic Australia is a new partnership of entities which collect royalty fees for artists, songwriters and record labels. Among its proposed changes are fees for nightclubs playing recorded music for dancing.

As it stands, different bodies now collect the royalties with different rates - for example PPCA's rate for recorded music for dancing is $1.31 per person times the capacity per night. The APRA rate is $0.86 per person multiplied by actual attendance.

The proposal is a single top rate of $2.20 per person per night based on a venue's capacity not attendance. A venue with capacity for 500 would be billed $1100 for one night.



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