OneMusic director Greer Davies

When most people think of music royalties, they most likely think of artists receiving royalties when their music is played on the radio. While this is true, this is only a part of the picture. Having permission to play music in a business environment is required by law under the NZ Copyright Act (1994), and is a non-negotiable start to making the most of music in a hospitality business.

OneMusic is the licensing brand for APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ. It licenses businesses that use music on behalf of APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ, who return licence fees collected to music creators – songwriters, composers, music publishers, recording artists and record labels – as royalties. After administration costs, all money collected is returned to music creators as royalties.

“Typically a hospitality business will play over 2000 hours of background music each year, representing many thousands of songs,” explained OneMusic director Greer Davies. “Multiply that over the thousands of businesses we licence, and you can start to see what a difficult job it is to direct the licence fees to the songs that those businesses play.”

Having permission from music creators to play and use music in a business setting is required by law, and a OneMusic licence grants businesses the permission they need to use virtually all music released from anywhere in the world. Each year OneMusic collects approximately $3.75 million from hospitality businesses for using music. This breaks down as $2.5 million in licence fees for background music, approximately $850,000 for live performances and $400,000 for DJ performances. To reflect the different music being played, money for each of these licence types is distributed differently.

For this reason, the background music licence fees collected from hospitality businesses are distributed ‘by analogy’ using data OneMusic receives from background music suppliers, commercial radio stations, student, community and iwi radio stations, music streaming services and television networks. While it’s not an exact match of what is played by individual businesses, the data is broadly representative of the music hospitality businesses play.

In addition to distribution by analogy, many hospitality businesses use Background Music Suppliers – companies that tailor playlists and music solutions for businesses. For these businesses, their background music licence fees are distributed directly to the songs they play using data OneMusic receive from their Background Music Suppliers.

“We have our eye on developing technologies that may be able to improve the accuracy of our background music distributions for hospitality businesses, so watch this space,” Davies said.

Every year hundreds of bands play gigs at hospitality venues across the country. OneMusic licences these businesses for these performances, and then return the licence fees collected to the songwriters of the songs performed through APRA’s performance reporting scheme. Under the scheme, APRA members submit live performance reports, detailing where they have performed and what songs they played. This information is then used to distribute the licence fees OneMusic collects for live music.

OneMusic offers simple annual music licences that permit businesses to use virtually all commercially released music – whether live, by DJs, or as background music. A OneMusic licence gives business owners peace of mind that their business is on the right side of the law, and ensures that music creators are fairly compensated for the use of their music.