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It was with a great deal of pleasure that we received news from APRA AMCOS (music licensing and royalty distribution service) last Friday of a record annual revenue figure for 2015-2016 period of $333m; 14 per cent growth in payments to songwriters, composers and publishers and a huge increase of more than $20m in digital revenue. While other sectors of the music industry have experienced marked fluctuations, APRA AMCOS has enjoyed a reliable trajectory of income growth in recent years. Over the past three years, export revenue has increased by 75 per cent to more than $38.3m per annum, highlighting the enormous growth in the number and success of Australasians on the world stage.

A wonderful example of a music export success is Melbourne folk duo the Pierce Brothers, who are about to embark on a huge tour with Ben Harper. With the help of their management and the assistance of the vital export music organisation Sounds Australia, the Pierce Brothers have been able to find great success in the UK, Europe, India, and North American markets.

“The initial interest overseas came in the form of our now manager for Europe, Dave Toethius,” explains band member Jack Pierce. “Our manager Regan sent our single It’s My Fault over to the Netherlands and Toethius came back with great support. Since then we’ve made efforts to build markets in the UK, Europe, India, and North America. We made headway in some areas and not so much in others, but throughout the UK and Europe we’ve made most headway through festivals and conferences. These have put us in front of large audiences and great networking contacts. Then we’ve just worked away at each market and tried to stay afloat at the same time. It can cost a lot of money, breaking in a new market! Sounds Australia have been instrumental in introducing us to new markets and networking opportunities around the world. They held showcases at different events across the globe that we have been involved in, which has led to plenty of networking opportunities in the respective cities. If SA weren’t around, we’d definitely not be as far along as we are now.”

Just as radio and records revolutionised the music industry at the time of APRA’s foundation 90 years ago, streaming is now having a similar effect as subscription services gain traction with Australasian consumers. Royalty collections from streaming services were up 140 per cent year on year, to $27.4m.

Licence fees collected from all digital providers – including download services, streaming services, video on demand, websites and user-generated services – increased by a similar percentage, and is now significantly greater than, for example, traditional radio broadcasting ($45.3m). APRA AMCOS Chief Executive, Brett Cottle said, “While revenue from digital services is growing rapidly, the sheer volume of music being consumed is growing exponentially, which means that the fruits of this growth are being spread over a vastly increased pool of songwriters.”

Songwriters remained prolific creators and performers in the financial year 2015-2016. The number of works (songs, compositions) generating an income reached more than a million for the first time, resulting in payments to over 248,000 songwriters, composers and publishers equalling more than $294.6m (across APRA and AMCOS).
Brett Cottle said, “At a time when copyright is working in practice as it should, and just when the culturally-rich and economically vital business of music is getting back on its feet, it’s difficult to fathom why measures such as those relating to Safe Harbour expansion or so-called ‘fair use’ should be contemplated by government”.

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