Community Service Announcement: Oh, That APRA

APRA Invite: Canberra Connect Meeting – Tilleys, 11th March 2008, 6.30-8pm, RSVP essential to Chris via cmoller@apra.com.au or 02 9935 7984 by Monday 10th March.

Yes, not the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority. The Australian Performing Rights Association collects money from a wide range of businesses and gives it to songwriters when their songs are performed: on broadcast media, jukeboxes, in supermarkets and interestingly, if you’re a struggling gig pig without much airplay, live in venues by the songwriters themselves. How does this work?

First you have to register with APRA as a songwriter. Then you have to register your songs and who wrote them (with percentage contribution). All this can now be done on line. Next you have to keep some sort of record of where and when you play and what songs you play, though this is only strictly necessary in case you were to be audited which, as far as I now, is unheard of.

At the end of every financial year, you make a Live Performance Return or somesuch detailng each gig, each song and how many times they were played and, a few months later, APRA sends you a cheque. The amount of the cheque varies from year, depending on how much APRA collects and how many writers make returns, but generally it works out to around one dollar per song per play. As an example, about eight years ago when I was a gig pig doing around 100 shows in the year, I received a cheque from APRA for near enough to $1000. And that was when we were playing half covers.

Can this be true? Someone will pay you money for playing your own songs? Yes it is. And they’ll take your word for how many songs you’ve played? Pretty much yes. But I could just pretend that I’d played 300 gigs playing 40 of my own songs each night and make a squillion. Yes you could, but you won’t because you’re a good person and you wouldn’t want to rip off such a beneficial institution. And besides, they do perform some verification and it’d really suck to be busted ripping them off, particularly when ‘them’ is really your fellow song writers.

So there you go. If you’re playing your own songs around town and you’re not registered with APRA, you’re an idjut and you should go down to Tilleys on Tuesday week week (or just go to the APRA web site where there’s everything you need) and start getting properly paid for the royalties on the live performances of your original works.

End of Community Service Announcement

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