The inaugural FastForward Sydney conference wrapped up on Friday, having delivered an inrush of information covering metadata, ticketing, the future of releasing music, algorithms, shifting formats, and more.

During his stint on the ‘Future of Copyright & Artist IP’ panel, Dean Ormston didn’t shy away from speaking his mind.

The incoming CEO at APRA AMCOS detailed the ongoing conversation around increasing quotas for Australian content on Australian radio.

“Commercial radio has been very collaborative in that conversation,” he said at the University of Technology Sydney campus on Friday. “What we are working on is an agreed monitoring framework over the next 12 months where we look at what stations are doing and how they’re meeting those quotas.”

The issue first 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.

Now, Dean Ormston is leading the charge to see APRA AMCOS, ARIA and CRA working “collaboratively and constructively” on the issue.

“I think the vast majority of stations are probably doing the right thing and it’s about pulling a few players into line,” he said during the panel.

“People talk about the digital world and [say] radio is less important but radio is still enormously important to any Australian artist wanting to be heard. It’s a complicated relationship between what happens in streaming and how streaming influences radio – local streaming, international streaming – but never the less, if you get picked up by commercial radio you earn decent royalties through from [APRA AMCOS] so it’s an important part of the revenue mix for the artist.

Ormston said APRA AMCOS will argue very strongly that quotas should be maintained. “There’s a Senate Review at the moment from the Greens around content quotas, so we’ve maintained that position that yes, quotas are important and to keep them there.”

When asked by panel moderator Adrian McGruther, Lawyer at Brett Oaten Solicitors, why he thinks commercial stations aren’t complying with the quota, Ormston said the lack of monitoring could be the reason.

“It might just be that we’re all human and if you’re told there’s a benchmark and you’ve got to reach it, well you reach it,” he said.

“Whereas if there’s no benchmark there at all and there’s no one watching then, you know… As I said we’re working collaboratively with radio, we don’t want to have World War III, let’s just get everybody on the straight and narrow,” he added.

Emma Graham (Click Management), Dan Palm (Sony/ATV Music Publishing) and Dean Ormston (APRA AMCOS)

Ormston said APRA AMCOS has a few other issues with quotas around how they work in the broadcast space, namely locally curated streaming playlists.

“It would be great to see 25% Australian content on those,” he said.

The panel also saw a push for reform on safe harbour provisions

The panel, moderated by Adrian McGruther (Brett Oaten Solicitors) also featured Damian Rinaldi (Sonic Lawyers), Dan Palm (Sony/ATV Music Publishing) and Emma Graham (Click Management).

The panelists covered IP enforcement, technology trends and the proposed expansion of safe harbour provisions, which means platforms like YouTube are not legally responsible for the uploading of unlicensed content by their users – provided they either compensate the rightsholders or remove infringing content.

L-R: Emma Graham (Click Management), Dan Palm (Sony/ATV Music Publishing), Dean Ormston (APRA AMCOS), Damian Rinaldi (Sonic Lawyers) and Adrian McGruther (Brett Oaten Solicitors)

“Google and YouTube want content for their own platform to make their own money,” said Ormston. “It’s a transfer of money from the creator and it’s moving to the tech company.

“[…] Our argument with safe harbour has always been that YouTube, Google etc. do not need to avail themselves of safe harbour protection, they need to enter a license arrangement with us,” he added.

“We will license user-generated content and everything else that’s going up on YouTube; individual content creators still need the right to be able to have their stuff taken down if they want, but a license is the right solution. You provide a blanket solution, they get the content at a price, and we can distribute that to members.”

The topic of copyright protection was at the forefront of the second annual Parliamentary Friends of Australian Music (#PFOAM) Rock the House event last month.

Special guests John Paul Young, Kasey Chambers, Ian Moss, and All Our Exes Live In Texas performed live, and addressed important issues in an attempt to get parliament to understand the effect of emerging digital platforms on music and how copyright issues need to sit at the forefront.

“We’ve fought very strongly and we’ve taken a lot of artists down to Canberra on that issue,” said Ormston on Friday. “We’re hoping that Bill will now pass through the House and that the safe harbour provisions won’t be expanded.”

:: FastForward Conference starts with metadata, money and — of course — music