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Distribution information guide: Physical product

This information guide explains how royalties make their way back to songwriters and publishers when a music user purchases a CD, DVD, vinyl, cassette or other physical music product.

Where does the money come from?

AMCOS has agreements with some major record companies, which require them to provide AMCOS with quarterly reports of all physical product sales. AMCOS uses this information to calculate the royalties that should be paid by the record companies that AMCOS holds agreements with to copyright owners. Most royalties are paid to AMCOS members or AMCOS directly, but the record company may have separate arrangements with copyright owners who are not members of AMCOS.

Smaller record companies supply sales information directly to AMCOS in a similar way. AMCOS then calculates the overall AMCOS royalty for the quarter and issues an invoice to the record company. AMCOS will then distribute to those AMCOS members who are the copyright owners of the music.

What information does APRA AMCOS use to determine who should be paid?

Along with sales information, record companies also provide us with the individual track details of each physical product released (often referred to as set lists or prescribed notices).

How are songs matched to the data APRA AMCOS receives?

The track information provided by the record companies is directly matched to the vast repertoire of songs in our database. Where a track on a release has not yet been registered, this information is shared with our publisher members to allow them to register their share of the song.

Key terms used in our Distribution Rules and Practices document

The Copyright Act refers to compositions, musical scores in the form of sheet music, broadsheets or other notation as musical works. Lyrics or words to a song are considered literary works. When we refer to songs, we are referring to all the elements of a musical/literary work protected by copyright.