Artist Incomes - Creation - Overview

Despite an increase in membership over time, only one third of artists are members of a copyright collecting society

Over 3 in 4 artists believe that they hold copyright over their artwork. However only one third are members of a copyright collecting society, up slightly from 25 percent in 2002. Of those who are members of a copyright collecting society, just under half have received a payment in the last 12 months (46 percent).

The use or exploitation of creative work without the copyright holder's permission is a key issue for artists. Despite one quarter of artists having had their copyright infringed in the past, around half of artists feel that the current provision for copyright protection is adequate. For actors, dancers, visual artists and craft practitioners, more artists have had their copyright infringed than are members of a copyright collecting institution, suggesting the artist population may not be adequately represented.

A smaller proportion of artists have had their moral rights infringed (including things like misattributed authorship, wilful damage of work etc.), but only one third of artists feel that the current provision for moral rights infringements is adequate.

Figure 30 - Protection of artists' copyright and moral rights

All artists (%)Actors (%)CACD practitioners (%)Composers (%)Craft practitioners (%)Dancers (%)Musicians (%)Visual artists(%)Writers (%)
Are members of one or more copyright collecting societies331425881617442843
Had copyright infringed252222243822193026
Had moral rights infringed191819192411122921
Believe current provision for copyright protection is adequate514048724035555063
Believe current provision for moral rights infringements is adequate333525492428363235


Number of songwriters, composers and musicians - Creation - Music

60,000 Australian songwriters and composers have registered a musical work

Around 60,000 Australian songwriters and composers have registered a musical work with the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) during their lifetime and are eligible for royalty payments.

These songwriters and composers are found in all parts of Australia, following a similar geographic distribution to the Australian population. Two-thirds live in metropolitan areas – and most are registered in NSW or VIC.


Over 1,000,000 musical works have been registered in Australia’s song writing history

Both the number of members and the number of new works registered with APRA | AMCOS are growing each year. The number of Australian songwriters and composers registered as members has been growing at an average rate of 10 percent per year since 2005.

Over 80,000 new works were registered by Australian songwriters and composers during 2011 – up 20,000 on 2005 levels – an average growth rate of 4 percent per year. A further 14,000 were registered by publishers on behalf of Australian songwriters.

There are currently over 1,047,000 works registered by Australian songwriters in the APRA | AMCOS database.


Most Australian songwriters identify with the Pop/Rock category

More than half of all songwriters/composers registered with APRA identify with the pop/rock category.

Other common genres self-selected by APRA members are Alternative, Blues and roots, Country, Electronic and Jazz.[1]

[1]   Note songwriters/composers can be registered in more than one category


600 Indigenous Australian composers are generating royalty income from a musical work

In the 2011 Census, 80 Indigenous Australians indicated their main occupation was a ‘Music Professional’.

Indigenous membership of APRA is somewhat higher – estimated at 875 members in August 2012. APRA estimated that around 609 Indigenous songwriter members had generated royalty income from a musical work since 2000.







Recording industry - Industry - Music

Unauthorised file sharing has a significant impact on the music industry

Based on 2010 findings, Music Rights Australia reports that around 2.8 million Australians download unauthorised music via file sharing networks every year. A quarter of these individuals claim to do this every month (700,000 Australians).

Recent international research estimates the practice is even bigger, with 28 per cent of internet users thought to access unauthorised services on a monthly basis.

Research on BitTorrent (the most used file sharing P2P protocol worldwide with 100 million regular users) in Australia found that 89.9 percent of all torrent files from the sample examined were confirmed to be infringing copyrighted content. Of the files in the top three categories (movies, music and TV shows), there were no legal torrent files in the sample.



Recent years have seen a decline in the number of music retail stores

The number of retail music stores has declined in the past decade. In the early 2000’s the number of stores contributing data to the ARIA charts included around 1,100 stores. Today there are closer to 600 specialty music stores.

Over that time there has been a significant reduction in the number of chain locations, whilst some smaller specialist retailers have sustained their businesses servicing a small but committed customer base away from high traffic shopping centres.

According to the Australian Music Retailers Association (AMRA), some of the key factors affecting the retail business include:

  • Declining average unit prices
  • Rise of digital downloads
  • Unauthorised file sharing
  • International online retailers (eg Amazon)
  • Increased cost of rental spaces.


In addition to specialty music stores, music products are also sold though supermarkets, at petrol stations, markets and performances.



Returns from performance and broadcast - Industry - Music

Large numbers of songwriters and composers share in performance royalty distributions

In 2011-12, APRA distributed over $170 million to around 244,623 writers, composers and publishers, for the public performance and communication of musical works. APRA recieved around $22 million in royalty recipets from overseas societies in 2011-12.

The number of works in each annual distribution has been growing over time – with around 726,825 unique works in the 2011-12 distribution.

In 2010-11, APRA collected and distributed over $135 million to writers and publishers. Around 15 percent of this amount ($20 million) was distributed to local songwriters and composers, and 42 percent ($56 million) to local and international publishers.[1]

Looking at local songwriters and composers - a total of 52,000 distributions were made  by APRA in 2010, totalling $20 million. Two discrete biannual distributions were made, meaning some members received two distributions. Most members received small amounts.

There were over 700,000 works represented in the 2010-11 distribution. The rights holders sharing in the distributions are approximately 18 percent local and 72 percent foreign. For example, in 2010 approximately 41,500 local rights holders and 190,500 foreign rights holders were paid distributions by APRA.

[1]   Amounts paid to publisher members are for local works as well as foreign works sub-published in APRA territory


Rights - Industry - Music

Broadcasting, performance and use of live and recorded music generated over $290 million in licence fees in 2012

APRA | AMCOS have licences in place with 84,000 licensees, and have 81,000 members.

It paid 244,623 music creators and rights holders in 2011-12 and distributed around $237 million in royalty distributions to songwriters, composers and publishers.

PPCA have licences in place with over 54,000 venues Australia-wide, including clubs, hotels, bars, restaurants, fitness centres, shops, halls and dance studios for the broadcast, communication or public playing of recorded music. It also grants licences to radio and TV stations.

On behalf of rights holders, it distributed over $29 million to licencor labels and registered Australian artists in 2011-12.


Broadcasting on TV and radio generate high licence fees, but digital and online consumption is growing fast

Australian business expenditure on music broadcasting is well established, with APRA | AMCOS collections from TV and radio continuing to grow in excess of $100 million. Licence fees earned from live public performances and live events are also significant.

Digital and online spending reported by APRA | AMCOS exceeded $30 million in 2011-12 – having grown substantially each year for the past five years.


Key international markets - Global - Music

Whilst large in size, there are challenges in relation to the Japanese music market

Recent Austrade profiles of music export opportunities focus on potential opportunities in Japan.

According to Austrade, the proportion of international music products sold in Japan is low (17%) and declining, with international acts struggling to establish themselves in the Japanese market.


Trade in music royalties - Global - Music

Historically Australians have paid more music royalties to overseas artists than they have received in return

In 2008-09 other countries paid $75m in music royalties to Australia. Australia paid more than three times this amount in royalties to international artists ($235m).

The last three years have seen the balance of trade reach the highest level since 1991-92.

APRA | AMCOS collected revenue of $20.2m from overseas collecting societies in 2010-11 – a decrease on prior years due to the appreciation of the Australian dollar.



Secondary market - Industry - Visual Arts

Growing numbers of visual artists are receiving royalties from copyright distribution

Almost all visual artists believe they have copyright ownership over any work they produce (92 percent). However, in 2009, Throsby and Zednik estimated that less than a third (28 percent) were members of a copyright collecting agency.


Viscopy currently represents over 9,000 Australian and New Zealand artists. New membership has been increasing over time, with a six percent increase in 2011-12. In 2011, Indigenous membership accounted for half of all Viscopy members.


In 2011-12, Viscopy distributed $1.7 million to members. Royalties were distributed to over 930 Australian and 440 international members in 2011-12 (compared to 800 Australian and 280 international members in 2010-11), with the average payment being $1,100.





Over $1 million in royalties have been distributed to almost 500 artists since introduction of the Resale Royalty Scheme in 2010

Since introduction of the Resale Royalty Scheme in 2010, more than $1 million in royalties has been distributed to more than 500 artists from the resale of over 5,000 visual arts works.

Viscopy reports that around 90 percent of distributions are to artists who are still alive. Over 60 percent of these artists were Indigenous.

With a few exceptions, the royalty payments generated by the scheme are relatively small: about 95 per cent of royalties paid to artists or their beneficiaries have been between $50 (the minimum amount) and $500. At the other end of the scale, the highest royalty generated to date by the scheme has been $50,000.