Music licensing simplified

Music licensing

Among the many responsibilities and obligations of a dance school are the music licensing fees. Most music is subject to copyright, even if it is just being played via a phone for a class in a church hall, and indeed few teachers would deny the musicians their right to earn a living.

However, ensuring your school is covered correctly has until now been a confusing minefield – or “a complete muddle”, as one teacher observed – with a two-license system covering two separate licensing bodies – the Australasian Performing Right Association and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS) and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). Teaches wishing to meet their obligations have been confronted with a great deal of time-consuming paperwork, not to mention expense.

So teachers will breathe a sigh of relief at the announcement of a new initiative, called OneMusic, which combines the separate public performance licences of PPCA and APRA AMCOS into one and allows music users to meet their copyright obligations through a less complicated system. OneMusic covers all music usage, from karoake bars to cruise ships, eisteddfods and community halls. For dance schools a specific “Dance and Performance Instructors and Dance Schools” package has been created that is not only better streamlined but is fairer and more flexible than the previous system.

Catherine Giuliano is the Director of General Licensing for OneMusic. She has been working with dance schools since the 1990s and is well acquainted with the copyright issues. She sympathises with the teachers’ exasperation at the copyright requirements. “Music copyright is the most involved and complicated of any other forms of intellectual property copyright, as it exists and is distributed in so many different forms,” she says. “This is why OneMusic is so good. Teachers shouldn’t have to learn all this. We have brought it all together so
we can do the work for them. They will be free to use the music they want without worrying about the complexities.”

The Dance and Performance Instructors and Dance Schools package consists of a single annual fee covering the public performance of musical works, sound recordings and music videos without separate accounting and invoicing. The package has two main components. Most schools, presuming they hold some kind of performance, will need both:

1. Music in Dance and Performance Classes.

This gives permission to play or perform music in association with dance classes, lessons and rehearsals and is based on the number of classes a school holds per week, per location, on average over a year. (For example, if you hold one to five classes a week in one location, your annual fee is $175. If you hold six to 20 classes a week in one location, your annual fee is $350.)

This is designed to be an improvement on the previous scheme, where the calculations were based on the number of days a school operates per week instead of the number of classes.

2. Dance School Events, Copy Package and Website Use.

This covers four areas: public performances (such as a concert); digital copy/delivery (such as a recording of a piece of music for practice); video recordings; and music used on your website. There are two set fees for events: a set $200 fee if the school holds a single event per year; and a set $400 for an unlimited number of events.

So, if you teach five classes a week in one location and hold one annual concert, the annual fee will be $175 + $200 = $375.
The fees for digital copies or videos are calculated on an average number of pupils.
The cost of digital copies or other forms of music delivery has been reduced to $2.02 per student from the previous $6.
It is also the possible to claim a discount of up to nearly 50 per cent where a school can show it doesn’t need recording rights. If you regularly use a live pianist for class, for instance, or a compilation of ballet music that is no longer in copyright, you might be eligible for such a discount.

Music copyright for “phone on hold” and website use are also outlined in this scheme.

What about if you teach a syllabus, for which the music is already provided? Giuliano warns that fees are probably still payable in such cases, because even though your syllabus society would have covered the licensing costs for reproduction, this does not cover the fees for broadcasting the music in your studio or your performance. “They might be eligible for a discount though – we would need to look at the mix and make an assessment.”

For full details, go to the OneMusic website:

This article was first published in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Dance Australia. Don't be at the back of the class! Subscribe and be in front! 

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