Hospitality chief “disappointed” with lack of transparency on music licencing

The head of the Australian Hotels Association has criticised a new plan to simplify music licencing across the hospitality sector.

OneMusic Australia this week released the second draft of a new licence scheme designed to cut red tape for all venues which pay to play music to their patrons.

OneMusic is a merger of the two exisiting licencing bodies, APRA AMCOS and PPCA, with venues currently required to pay licence fees to both.

It describes the scheme, due for roll-out mid-2019, as a “fair and simple music licence plan for hotels & bars”.

In a statement it said: “Substantial consultation has taken place with the sector over many months to arrive at this second draft scheme based on a fair outcome for both hotels and similar venues and Australian music creators.

“Since the first proposed scheme was issued 12 months ago, OneMusic has listened to industry and in this next proposal has satisfied competing calls for more customisation against calls for more simplification.”

But Stephen Ferguson, CEO of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), says the draft is impossible to critique without greater transparency from the licencing group on how it arrives at its figures.

“While there has been some progress on a few of the issues raised by AHA on behalf of our members, there are many still to be resolved before we have a fair scheme in place,” he told Accomnews this week.

“We are now analysing the latest proposal, but are disappointed that despite repeated requests OneMusic has failed to provide their own modelling, research and analysis.

“The AHA is all for a simple and fair scheme for all but the fact remains, we need all the information to make a decision.”

OneMusic says it has created more licence fee tiers catering to the differing needs of hospitality businesses and has reduced the maximum fee for music used in dining spaces across every tier.

Motels and hotels which have a dining area targeted at guests rather than the public will see a 50 percent reduction to the background music rate for the dining space under the new scheme.

For small scale accommodation with just one radio or television, a lower-priced background music tier will also be introduced, while for those operators looking for simplification, a new ‘all-in’ rate will cover everything from background playlists to featured live artists.

But Stephen Ferguson argues the AHA needs access to the information OneMusic is basing its draft conclusions on if it is to properly safeguard the future of music performance across Australia.

“Hotels are big backers of the live music scheme and it’s critical that this scheme is structured to actually encourage live music in our venues,” he said.

OneMusic is keen to stress the value of the industry’s contribution to live music, saying licencers “applaud the hospitality sector for the enthusiasm and support they show in showcasing recorded and live music to entertain their patrons”.

“Live and featured music venues help to generate an estimated $15.7 billion in national economic benefit – lifting profitability and employment,” it acknowledged.

There are more than 100,000 members of APRA AMCOS and 40,000 registered PPCA record labels. OneMusic says licence fees are distributed to music creators using “world’s best practice data matching systems” to ensure the right songwriter is paid for the use of their material.

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