“No Gaps or Awkward Silences” by Maurice Powell 2020

Why I care about public performance income for artists

I married the co-founder of Nightlife Music in 1997. A computer programmer and a fan of happy house music. Tim.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, every three months, Tim would diligently collate all the data from what music was played on the Nightlife Music systems around Australia. A quarterly royalty report for record companies and APRA would be printed and posted.

Line by line, reporting the detail of which artists’ music videos had been played in an increasing number of Australia’s pubs, clubs and venues as the Australian company grew.

I was an artist manager through those years. I was building careers through live performances and selling CDs. I understood the mechanics of copyright and revenue streams for artists. I was proud that our family business played its part in getting Australian artists paid royalties when their music was played in public.

In 2007 I was in the royalty accounting office of a major label, my artist’s debut album was set for imminent release. I needed to understand how all the different royalty revenues were reported and make sure we were making the most of any opportunity, for the artist and the label.

My gaze drifted to the pile upon pile of A4 print outs from a dot matrix printer. Penny. Dropped. These were the reports from my husband’s computer program. I asked, “where would those royalties from Nightlife Music show up on the artist’s statement?

My heart sunk when the answer was “they won’t for years, we are so many years behind from entering those in the system.”

Yet, the cheques had been banked promptly — every three months.

I would scour the APRA royalty reports to no avail — looking for a ‘bump’ in public performance income, knowing how we had suppported the artists music in venues around Australia.

This may explain why I am driven to understand why. A personal WHY for the hours and hours of research and writing of these FAIR PLAY blog posts.

Why would the music industry NOT choose to embrace innovation and technology?

Why not do the right thing and make sure artists are paid every time their works are played in public performance settings?

FAIR PLAY Part 3 — Play Data, Equity and Licensing Solutions COMING SOON!

FAIR PLAY Part 1 — The Ambiguity of One Music’s “copying licence” HERE

FAIR PLAY Part 2 — Governance and Scrutiny of Australian PROs HERE

Governance | Leadership | Advocacy | Strategy | Research | Undergraduate at UQ | music, books, conversation, alchemy, justice and champagne