How are the royalties calculated?
APRA’s distribution policy uses a ‘points’ system to determine royalties to be allocated to each song. Royalties are calculated separately for Australia and New Zealand for each song. The first step is to calculate the number of points, by multiplying the duration by weighted percentage by box office performance figure. Once the points are calculated for each song, the total licence fee is divided by the total number of points to determine a point rate. This point rate is then multiplied by the number of points that were calculated in the first step for each song, resulting in the royalty amount payable. Accordingly, a longer-duration song in a film with a lower box office may receive a higher payment than a shorter duration song in a film with a higher box office.
The song’s points may be further weighted depending on the way the song is used in the film. Background music is not weighted after being converted to points at the rate of 1 point per second, whereas weightings are applied for songs with featured and/or theme use as set out below.
Music use scaling
- 1x - Background - the ‘sound score’, often original music that has been composed specifically for a film
- 1.5x - Theme - music which runs under the opening or closing credits of a film
- 2x - Featured - music which is audible to the characters on screen and the audience, for example a scene with a band playing
Film festivals’ licence fees are comparatively low and many films included in film festivals contain obscure music for which details are unable to be provided, therefore the amount of work required to distribute by direct allocation is inefficient and not cost effective. For this reason, film festival licence fees are added to the main cinema revenue distribution pool.
Once we have calculated the amount payable for a song, we can pay that amount to the copyright owner of the work. If the copyright owner is not a direct member of APRA or AMCOS but is a member of an affiliated overseas society, APRA will pay that society.
No royalties are distributed for music in cinema commercials and trailers.
How often are royalties paid?
Distributions for Australian and New Zealand cinemas and film festivals are calculated and paid quarterly.
What about songs that cannot be identified or are the subject of a dispute?
View our information guide on Unidentified Songs and Disputes for more information.