The ACCC, Australia’s competition authority, is keen to enforce tougher conditions on APRA as the rights society seeks reauthorisation for its music licensing arrangements.

Earlier this week, the ACCC put out the call for feedback on a proposal to reauthorise APRA’s collective arrangements for a further five years. Though this time, the watchdog is flexing its muscles.

The ACCC said it wanted to see “strengthened conditions” to “increase transparency and help protect songwriters and small businesses” when dealing with the society, and suggested APRA spell out its fees and distribution systems in a jargon-free guidebook.

“It’s more efficient for APRA members to collect royalties jointly, rather than every artist having to collect their own royalties and monitor compliance,” comments ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh, in a statement.

APRA already has a “near-monopoly,” he continued, and the “exclusivity provisions it has with artists makes its position even stronger. This raises a risk of higher prices for businesses that play music, and other inefficiencies or restrictions for APRA members.”

APRA CEO Dean Ormston
APRA CEO Dean Ormston

Currently, APRA boasts more than 100,000 members and licenses more than 147,000 venues on both sides of the Tasman, including pubs, clubs and gyms.