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Licensing your music yourself – the Licence Back and Opt Out processes

Tip Published Tuesday 22 December 2020
APRA AMCOS provides two options for members who want to take back the rights in their music – we call these options Licence Back and Opt Out.

As an APRA member, you rely on us to license, monitor and collect fees to pay you royalties.

Certain circumstances might call for you manage the rights directly – e.g. music on hold, a song for charitable purposes.

You have options to Licence Back or Opt Out


One of the primary benefits of becoming a member of APRA is that you can rely on us to license your music on your behalf, monitor the use of your music by others, collect licence fees payable for those uses and pay your APRA royalties through to you.

Hopefully this translates to less admin for you, leaving you more time to create more amazing music, which is how it should be!

However, there may be times in your career when you wish to deal directly with a music user and grant them a licence to use your music yourself, rather than through us. For example you might be directly commissioned to write music for a music-on-hold service. Or perhaps you may want to license your favourite charity to use a particular song of yours for free.

In these circumstances, before you can license the performing rights in your music yourself, you need to take the rights back from us. We provide two options for members who want to take back the rights in their music – we call these options Licence Back and Opt Out.

Licence Back

Licence Back is a flexible process which allows you to license one or more of your songs to a particular user for a particular purpose. All you have to do is fill out our online request for licence back form (PDF 100 KB), tell us who, when and what you are licensing (so we don’t try to license the same business for the same thing).Then you can proceed.

However please note that for most Licence Back applications, you will need to give APRA at least one week’s notice of the use. And for complex Licence Back applications that involve multiple works and co-writers, we reserve the right to charge a small administration fee.

Opt Out

Opt Out is a more rigid process.

It allows you to remove your entire repertoire of works from APRA for a particular use, giving you complete control of all works, worldwide, for that type of use.

You will be able to grant licences to anyone for that use, on your terms, or you may choose not to license the works at all.

APRA needs at least three months’ notice of an Opt Out. And if the Opt Out application is complex, we reserve the right to charge a small administration fee.

Regardless of whether you choose to Licence Back or Opt Out, if you choose to deal directly with users of your music, remember that APRA will no longer be able to enforce your rights or collect licence fees for those uses. You may want to get your own legal advice about this.

More info

If you have any questions at all about licensing your rights directly or whether Licence Back or Opt Out is the right option for you, please read our plain English guide (PDF 100 KB) or contact Writer Services direct or via live chat on the website.