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Year in Review

Message from the Chief Executive, Dean Ormston

As you read this Australia and, hopefully, New Zealand, are on the cusp of emerging from the enforced 20-month COVID-19 hibernation. For many in our community – our songwriter, composer and publisher members as well as industry colleagues and licensees - the 2020-21 year has been dire. Full recovery will take some time. As we’ve said publicly and to governments repeatedly, the live music and entertainment industry was one of the first to be impacted by lockdowns and will be the last allowed to re-open at full capacity. We will see the impact of this ‘lag’ beyond the context of this report.

Our 2020-21 Year in Review report reflects the dichotomy of the contemporary music industry – a digital business that continues a trajectory of strong growth, despite COVID, as against live music performance which has been completely obliterated.

The APRA AMCOS Group reported a revenue record of just over half a billion dollars, $506.9m, with key contributing factors being the growth in audio and video on demand streaming services, both locally and through our multi-territorial licensing hub. The positive Group result included a record international revenue result of $60.2m, reflecting the success of Australian and New Zealand songwriters and composers internationally. AMCOS also recorded a milestone revenue result of $147.0m. APRA AMCOS' net distributable revenue increased 8.7% in a year where gross revenue increased 6.8%. APRA AMCOS’ Group expense to revenue ratio for the year was 12.68%.

I note that for many of our songwriter and composer members, especially those reliant on live performance royalties, the overall success of the company will not have translated to a direct personal benefit. It has never been more important to advocate for and support the breadth of our membership, songwriters, composers and publishers alike, and the future health and potential of the Australian and New Zealand music industries.

The Year in Review details the breadth of our advocacy and activity in supporting our songwriter, composer and publisher members and the wider industry – from direct support through our Sustainability Fund, to evolving online programs and performance opportunities. Advocacy largely focused on COVID support, but also addressed live music regulatory reform, and attempts to erode copyright (which persist).

Jenny Morris’ address at the National Press Club in Canberra set the tone for our longer-term advocacy, providing a ‘moonshot’ vision for our industry based on smart cross-government portfolio policy and industry-government co-investment.

We’ve worked with governments to try and secure the best possible support for COVID-impacted music creators, music businesses and workers. We’ve made government submissions, participated in inquiries and hearings and advocated regulatory reform.

We’ve led and partnered with industry colleagues in discussion and action to drive momentum and positive change to representation, equity and safety for all in our industry.

I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thanks to all our staff working across Australia and New Zealand and our overseas representatives, who have gone above and beyond to help us collectively define a new way of working over the past 12 months. We continue to listen and look for the best ways to serve you, our members.

As both Australia and New Zealand emerge from COVID, and we head towards an Australian Federal Government election, it’s critical that we use the power of our individual and collective voice to champion culture and creative industries, and specifically the cultural and economic value of music.


$506.9m up from $474.5m last year, an increase of 6.8%

The highs and lows of the global pandemic played out across our broad portfolio of revenue sources. Lockdowns, restrictions and border closures halted the means to earn a living for so many of our gigging members. At the same time, people’s appetite for music streaming and video-on-demand, especially as a comfort in tough times, showed digital revenue to be pandemic proof.

  • The COVID-19 disruptions to business and life greatly impacted public performance revenue – including retail, fitness, hospitality, cinemas, nightclubs, airlines and live performances licensed by OneMusic. The drop in live revenue particularly had devastating outcomes for our members who rely on live performances and touring.
  • In contrast, digital continued to grow, with increased revenue from local sources and international collection. Combined digital revenue from local and international collections accounted for more than half of APRA AMCOS group revenue.
  • Our multi territorial licensing hub, which this year marked its fifth year of operations in Asia and beyond, saw tremendous growth once again on the back of strong licensing and operational performance and continued growth in emerging and more established digital music and audiovisual platforms.

Revenue by source FY21 vs FY20

Spotlight on international revenue

$60.2m up from $54.4m last year, an increase of 10.7%

A great result considering the impact of the pandemic, and initial projections of substantial revenue decline around the world.

  • Revenue from the USA remained high, given a boost from their election advertising revenue.
  • As expected, live performance revenue plummeted as the pandemic halted international touring for most of our members.
  • However, digital - and especially streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) – increased considerably (up from 24.9% of international revenue last year). It became the top source of overseas revenue for the first time, overtaking television.
  • Tones And I enjoyed more global success with ‘Dance Monkey’ as well as ‘Never Seen The Rain’; Screen composers Neil Sutherland (Border Security), Michael Yezerski (A Place to Call Home) and Joel Haines (The Brokenwood Mysteries) saw overseas audiences tuning into their theme songs; and globally-recognised Australian and New Zealand songs from ‘Thunderstruck’, ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ and ‘Down Under’ to ‘Royals’, ‘Riptide’ and ‘Cheap Thrills’ contributed to a record-breaking international revenue result.

Tones And I live at the Enmore Theatre - Photo Mikki Gomez

Members who earned international royalties


APRA members


AMCOS members


Programs: a mix of virtual and in-person

  • Meet the Locals went regional with reps setting up shop for the day around QLD, NSW, WA, SA, VIC, NT and the ACT
  • Regional Sessions connected songwriters in a series of day-long events across NSW: Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Byron Bay, Dubbo and Wollongong. (Pictured: The Regional Sessions – Dubbo; L-R: Nicola Tuckwell, L-FRESH The LION, Sally Seltmann, Ilan Kidron, Emma Swift; photo by Sarah Spagnolo - Little Image Co.)

Public Policy

APRA Chair Jenny Morris was invited by the National Press Club to give an address on the Australian music industry on 5 August. The address was followed by an industry panel discussion moderated by Sabra Lane (ABC AM) with APRA AMCOS Ambassadors John Watson (Eleven Music), Sophie Payten (Gordi) and Sukhdeep Singh Bhogal (L-FRESH The LION). There was also a music performance from APRA AMCOS Ambassador Ngaiire.

The speech called for a long-term plan for Australia’s music industry. There is enormous potential for the industry to become a net exporter of music if we get the policy settings around education, live music, content quotas and a whole-of-government approach right.

National Press Club - L-R: Sabra Lane, John Watson, L-FRESH The LION, Jenny Morris, Gordi

Representation and inclusion

APRA AMCOS firmly believes that broad representation is the key to a safer and more inclusive and respectful music industry. This is reflected in our recently published Equity Action Plan.

The plan was developed under the mentorship of Diversity Arts Australia over the first half of 2021, which commenced with a Diversity Audit and included extensive training for APRA AMCOS staff and for Board members, provided by specialists sourced by Diversity Arts Australia.

Our program was modelled on the highly successful Fair Play program that Diversity Arts Australia developed in partnership with the Victorian Music Development Office.

The plan focuses on how we can embed diversity and deliberate inclusion in our work practices and in how we engage with our members and other stakeholders. Our roadmap includes collecting more data for a deeper understanding of our membership across race, gender and disability.

Our intention is to implement actions that will achieve positive impact for our broadly representative stakeholders as measured by change in seven key elements:

  1. Engagement
  2. Empowerment
  3. Capacity Development
  4. Access to Opportunities
  5. Cultural Safety
  6. Connection
  7. Experience and Leadership

Prioritising representation and inclusion

Gillian Dunn (pictured) was appointed Senior Manager, Culture & Engagement in the People & Culture team to demonstrate our strategic commitment to prioritising representation and inclusion across all aspects of our business. In this new role, Gill, who was most recently Senior Manager, Publisher Relations, will champion representation, safety and inclusion as key pillars of our organisational culture. She will also deliver initiatives, coaching and training internally to build behaviours that support these pillars. Gill will work to position APRA AMCOS as a champion of culture change in our music ecosystem.

Leah Flanagan (pictured) was promoted to Director of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office (NATSIMO) highlighting the importance of this role in setting the strategic priorities for APRA AMCOS and supporting our existing and future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members.

Kirti Jacobs (pictured) was promoted to Head of People and Culture reflecting our commitment to representation and inclusion as a critical business strategy that has a real and positive impact on our workforce, performance, innovation and reputation. The People and Culture function has been leading the collaboration with leadership and teams to develop representation, equity, safety and inclusion strategies. We are embedding these into our recruitment, onboarding, retention, wellbeing and employee engagement practices, while simultaneously establishing an inclusive environment that will sustain these practices long-term. We’re doing this through awareness-raising, training and establishing feedback mechanisms to enable continuous improvement.

Driving Cultural Change

APRA AMCOS is a signee of the Diversity Council of Australia’s #IStandForRespect pledge. We have actively and wholeheartedly supported the Request for Proposal and Tender Review process that has been managed by the voluntary interim working group set up in May 2021. We look forward to partnering with the group and our colleagues in the Australian music industry to enable the work of the appointed independent consultant in conducting a broad-ranging, intersectional and inclusive review and in identifying strategies for a safer and more inclusive Australian music industry. That work is expected to commence in late 2021/early 2022.

Safe spaces and environments

We are reviewing our harassment and harm prevention policies and developing a new framework to communicate and support our standards for safe and respectful participation in APRA AMCOS Awards, events and initiatives. This framework will include a Statement of Expectations for participants in all APRA AMCOS events initiatives and Awards. We have also partnered with Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia to build the capability of our frontline staff in responding to disclosures of sexual harassment and in constructive bystander intervention. Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia have also reviewed and provided feedback on our policy framework and procedures and we are currently integrating this feedback to ensure our response framework is survivor-centric and trauma informed.

Internal equity measures: gender pay-gap review

On the gender composition of our workforce and on equal remuneration, APRA AMCOS conducts an annual review, based on criteria developed by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). Our 2021 review established that we perform very well against the Australian market generally, as measured against the WGEA February 2021 issue of Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Statistics:

  • Australia’s full time gender pay gap across all industries is 13.4%
  • The full time gender pay gap in the Information Media and Telecommunications Industry is 16%
  • The fulltime gender pay gap in Australian Arts and Recreation Services is 9.4%
  • APRA AMCOS’ full time gender pay gap 6.7%.

The WGEA Gender Pay Gap is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles. APRA AMCOS conducts a like-for-like salary review to identify pay gaps and the more granular data shows any pay gap is minimal and is likely due to seniority or time in the role. For example, the APRA AMCOS full time gender pay gap falls to 3.6% when management roles are removed from the calculation.

We also perform well at representation of women in management roles overall, with 47.5% of all management roles at APRA AMCOS being held by women. This compares positively with the overall Australian workforce composition of only 39.9% of manager roles being held by women (WGEA Gender Equality Scorecard, November 2020).

New Zealand

Beyond the organisation-wide work of the Equity Action Plan, in 2020 APRA AMCOS NZ took a leadership role in the formation of SoundCheck Aotearoa, an action group with the aim of fostering a safe and inclusive culture in the music industry. The group has spent the past 12 months:

  • consulting with several hundred people in the music community
  • working with experts in the area of sexual harm prevention
  • seeking funding
  • releasing a lengthy report and recommendations for action
  • rolling out Professional Respect Training courses
  • creating tools and resources
  • providing support in partnership with HELP (a survivor support agency)

The formation of SoundCheck Aotearoa occurred alongside and in response to the Amplify Aotearoa research and report into barriers and challenges experienced by songwriters and artists in New Zealand - a collaboration between Massey University and APRA AMCOS NZ. Gender emerged as a key factor impacting opportunities, barriers, and experiences of discrimination, highlighting the need for analysis on intersectional issues that impact gender diversity, alongside challenges and discrimination based on other factors, such as ethnicity, age, disability and sexuality.

Alongside our Pītau Whakarewa (Māori Music Growth and Development Leader) Dame Hinewehi Mohi (pictured), we also furthered the creation of a bi-lingual music industry. Dubbed ORO, the cross-agency initiative is supported by Creative New Zealand and the Māori Language Commission - Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, with the aim of enriching our cultural identity and changing the way New Zealanders create and consume music performed in te reo Māori. The strands of this initiative include supporting collaborative songwriting of new waiata via Reo Māori SongHubs, facilitating translation of waiata with the help of Mātanga Reo, and work on our own data integrity and collation for legacy waiata.

APRA writer members 2020-2021