Music and performers

Copyright, insurance and work health and safety are some of the issues you will need to consider if you plan to use performers, live music and/or pre-recorded music at your event.

Copyright

Live music

If you plan to use only live music at your event, and that music is protected by copyright (as most music is), you will need to apply for a licence at least three weeks prior to your event through the Australasian Performing Right Association and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society Limited (APRA AMCOS).

Recorded music

If you plan to use recorded music (including music videos or pre-recorded music that is part of a live performance by a DJ or other performer) you will need to apply for a licence through both APRA AMCOS and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). First check with the venue or premises operator whether a blanket licence is already in place, in which case separate licences from APRA AMCOS or PPCA may not be required, depending on the nature and details of the event and the scope of any existing licences which may be in place.

Videos with music

If you plan to create a video containing music to post online, you need to clear three areas of copyright. The first two steps relate to the actual creation of the video. The third step is related to making the video available online:

  1. Synchronisation – Whenever music is included in any type of video (audio/visual production), this is referred to as a synchronisation. “Synch” rights must be obtained in order to create any video, usually through the publisher of the song.
  2. Master rights – If you are using any recording of a song you have not created yourself, you must obtain permission to use the recording (or “master rights”) from owner of the recording, usually a record company. If you are using your own recording (for example, a cover version you have commissioned) then you do not need to seek master rights. Complete APRA AMCOS’s copyright ownership information request form to find a song publisher’s contact details. Then contact them directly to obtain a quote for the use of the song and sound recording.
  3. Communication rights – To publish your video online, you must obtain the right to broadcast or stream the video through APRA AMCOS, which administers these rights on behalf of composers and music publishers. APRA AMCOS may require information about the website where the video will be hosted, if the video will be generating any revenue, and if the video is an advertisement. Note that you do not need to apply for communication rights to upload a video to YouTube or Facebook, as APRA AMCOS licences them directly for the streaming of videos which contain copyright music.

Insurance

You should seek professional advice about the insurance you need as the event organiser.

You should also ensure that performers have insurance to cover their activities while at your event by sighting their insurance.

Public liability insurance is required by a number of government agencies and is usually a condition of approval to hold an event. In most cases $20 million is the amount of cover required by the appropriate agency or agencies listed as ‘interested parties’ on the certificate issued.

Work health and safety

You have a duty of care in relation to the work health and safety of performers at your event. During your risk assessment, identify any potential hazards for performers and take steps to minimise those risks.

You may also need to provide performers with access to facilities where they can change their clothes and do their make-up.

Contracts

Refer to the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance to ensure you pay arts workers the correct wages.

You should seek professional legal advice about performer employment contracts, and ideally have a written contract with all performers at your event.

The Arts Law Centre of Australia offers low-cost sample contracts and free information on arts law and arts insurance. It can also provide free legal advice.