Australian Clubs To Battle Fee Hikes

Nightclub owners and such groups as the Australian Hotels Association and Club Australia have teamed up against plans to increase the fees they have to pay for music.

The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia, which collects royalties for artists and record companies for music played in public, wants to raise its copyright fees from 7.26 cents a person to $2.23. It wants fees to be based on club capacity instead of attendance.

The clubs protest that this is a huge hike that could send them broke. Club Australia’s national affairs manager Anthony Ball said some larger clubs would have to pay $250,000 a year as a result.

The PPCA’s argument is that music plays a big role in bringing patrons to clubs.

“These clubs charge $15 to get in, $5 for a drink and $2 to check coats,” PPCA chief executive Stephen Peach said. “And they want to get their music for almost next to nothing.”

The PPCA plans to phase in the new fee structure over five years. Last year it contacted nightclubs to ask for their response.

Now the PPCA has gone to the Copyright Tribunal, which is part of the Federal Court of Australia, to mediate. The live sector will formally protest these moves by record companies.

– Bryan Jones