It’s official: the trade associations representing songwriters, composers and music publishers, record labels and commercial radio have joined forces to enforce compliance of music quotas.

APRA AMCOS, ARIA and CRA are working “collaboratively and constructively” on the issue, with APRA AMCOS’ incoming CEO Dean Ormston leading the charge.

The three associations are committed to obtaining and reviewing the data relevant to the quotas, according to a joint statement.

There’s a growing perception within the music industry that the rules are being sidestepped

The issue came to a head at last year’s Bigsound conference in Brisbane, where data presented (and seen by TIO) at the invite-only independent music summit Air-Con revealed that leading broadcasters were consistently failing to hit their mandated content targets.

Commercial radio stations are typically required to play a minimum of 25% Australian content during the hours 6am-midnight, seven days a week, as outlined in the Commercial Radio Code of Practice.

The topic rumbled on, this time in a public arena when a Bigsound panel discussion explored the failings of the quota system. During the session it emerged the Australian Music Performance Committee (AMPCOM), an independent body established to oversee music quota compliance on commercial radio, was MIA. Keynote speaker Tina Arena also made a point to bash the ineffective setup. “Music directors are in a position of power and with that power comes responsibility,” said Arena, who called for a public, voluntary commitment from commercial broadcasters to program 50% local content.

Recent research undertaken by veteran publicist Chrissie Vincent for a Masters thesis also found commercial FM networks were often failing to meet minimum requirements.

Post-Bigsound, execs at APRA AMCOS and ARIA mulled over the issue and, in December 2017, dialogue was opened with Commercial Radio Australia (CRA). The three peak associations have since met and agreed to work collaboratively  “to determine whether non-compliance  is a real problem and, if so, the extent of the problem and how it could best be addressed,” according to the statement.

Any stations found to be not compliant will be contacted and requested to address the issue. The joint statement notes, however, that CRA expects that the majority of commercial stations will be found to meet their quotas and, in some cases, “exceed them.”  The process is a voluntary one and does not form part of Code compliance requirements, the statement notes.

The joint initiative was confirmed publicly late Tuesday afternoon in a message with the headline, “Industry works together on Australian music.” ARIA reportedly broke news of the breakthrough on Monday with an update to its members.