skip to main content

Music Licensing - The Big Picture
By Emma Fleetwood

The Copyright Act 1994 obliges any user of copyright music to obtain permission when using music in public. The permission is gained from two organisations in New Zealand –APRA|AMCOS who represent songwriters, composers and publishers and Recorded Music NZ who represent record labels and recording artists who are the owners of sound recordings.

At the end of 2013, APRA and Recorded Music NZ created a joint licensing brand called OneMusic. The OneMusic licence is offered to dance schools and dance teachers for music used in dance classes and tuition, and covers all aspects of music used for dance classes.

The OneMusic licence, however, does not extend to events, shows (performances to an audience) or filming dance performances. If you are holding events or shows and/or filming them to distribute to students or customers, you will need to contact APRA to arrange additional licensing.

There are a number of different event licences that APRA offers depending on the type of performance or event you are producing. One of the licenses APRA offers is the Dramatic Context Licence, and we are often asked, “What constitutes a “Dramatic Context” performance?”

Dramatic Context is a performance in conjunction with acting, costumes, scenic accessories, and scripted dialogue or other dramatic effects. Dramatic Context also extends to ballet. APRA defines ballet as a choreographic work having a story, plot or abstract idea devised or used for the purpose of interpretation by dancing and/or miming, but does not include country or folk dancing or precision dancing sequences.

We hope the scenarios below answer some of the most commonly asked questions, but we are always here to help if you are not sure which licence you need for your business.

I run a dance school and hold 3 classes per week. We don’t have performances, however we have grading assessments at the end of each term. What sort of music licence do I need?
An annual One Music Dance Classes Licence will cover the use of music in dance lessons/scheduled dance classes and assessments only.

The licence won’t cover any music use in performances to an audience. A performance to an audience would be to people that are not involved with the performance in any way (including friends and family).

The annual fee is based on the number of classes held per week. For example 1 – 5 classes is an annual fee of $175.29 (incl GST).

I have a OneMusic Licence and would like to hold a ticketed end-of-year show with no story-line or theme, just one dance item after another. What permission do I need?
As the event is not considered Dramatic Context (theatrical) the music use does not require prior clearance. The licence you’ll need is the APRA Concert Promoters licence and the rate is 1.5% of the GST exclusive box office. The final music list needs to be submitted after the event is over.

Please be aware that if you intend using/performing music from a Grand Right Musical (a Grand Right is a theatrical performance where music has been written for the production, e.g. Cats, Grease and Hairspray) APRA is not permitted to authorise the following:

  • The use/performance of more than three works from any one original musical.
  • The use/performance of musical works from an original musical in conjunction with visual or dramatic similarities to the original musicals. This includes character use or reference, scripted dialogue, costumes (in part or in full), scenery, choreography, story lines or any dramatic effects that in any way reference the original musical.

APRA can provide contact details for the publishers of most Grand Rights Musicals if you do decide to put on one.

I would like to film my show and make DVD copies for purchase.
The copying of music in DVDs requires an AMCOS Reproduction Licence which we can assist you with. The fee is $64.60 or the first 1 – 5 DVD copies made, $6.49 for each additional copy (up to 20 copies). For 21 or more copies, the fee is $161.89 for the first 20 copies and $4.12 for each extra copy thereafter. All fees noted here are inclusive of GST.

I have a Dance Class licence, however I want to put on a theatrical dance show using music. We are hoping to use LET IT GO from the film Frozen and CHEEK TO CHEEK by Irving Berlin in a Dramatic Context performance.
An APRA Event Licence is required for any performance where existing copyright music is to be used/performed in an event with an audience.

Unfortunately APRA can’t authorise the use/performance of anything from the Disney catalogue in a Dramatic Context event. However, we can provide contact details and a Disney request form should you wish to seek permission with Disney.

Most Irving Berlin works are restricted under the APRA Dramatic Context licence. APRA will need to seek permission with the publisher of the work before the use can be licensed. APRA can’t guarantee a work will be approved, however we will do our very best to try and get it cleared. When a work is approved by the relevant publisher, a slightly higher rate is set for that particular work in addition to the APRA charge for the non-restricted works.

We’re here to help
One great piece of advice to leave you with is to ensure you send the list of works that you are thinking you may like to use for any upcoming performances, with plenty of time for us to work on it with you (even if you are not sure at an early stage which licence would apply). This gives APRA plenty of time for any potential clearances, and makes it easier for you to select alternative choices if a work is denied for use.

Download the article APRA OneMusic - The Big Picture

APRA - Music Licensing

+ Text Size -
Original generation time 7.1163 seconds.