performance copyright

As overall recording sales continue to fall, 8% last year according to IFPI, the IFPI and other lobbying groups are trying to raise what were secondary sources of income, royalty payments from performance rights. Payments from performance royalties rose 16% last year, and the IFPI is lobbying hard to double performance royalties.

A recent copyright settlement in Australia now results in 50 cents per nightclub customer being paid to the PPCA, and is scheduled to double ($1.05) soon. The PPCA argument is “if there was no music, there would be no nightclub”. The PPCA is now going after fitness clubs, wanting much larger royalties from them for playing music in their classes. And they have tariffs for nearly every conceivable situation, from playing music video clips in electronics and hi-fi stores for demonstration purposes to the music that is played to telephone callers on hold. No matter what your business, if you are making money, and recorded music is involved in any way, they want a slice of your pie.

These kind of royalties don’t exist in the US yet. But there is extensive lobbying going on to try to get it started, and congress may pass some kind of performance rights bill by the end of this year. Radio stations in the US pay royalties, but only to the songwriter, the record company and the performers don’t get royalties. There are plenty of people who would like to change that. A bill sponsored by Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat, Michigan, would result in radio stations paying royalties to record companies and the performing artists.

Meanwhile, some Australian and european nightclubs are threatening to play only American recordings, with American musicians, in order to avoid paying the royalties.
Whatever the final shakeout in these royalty battles, it looks like big changes in royalty payments and maybe even performances themselves, will result.