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AMPAL Music Industry Forum: Report

Info Info - Thursday, June 10, 2010

AMPAL Industry Forum , Melbourne- co-presented by THE BIZ

On May 18th, The Biz co-presented a music industry discussion forum featuring a number of industry professionals including Ian James from Mushroom Publishing, Tim Janes from Shock and Rae Harvey Manager of The Living End.

For a full review of the night click on the link below

For me the highlight was really Rae Harvey.  Her main message was really to just get out there and do-it-yourself.  She reckons that the best way to learn about the industry is to throw yourself and the deep end and just starting doing.  You don't need to intern, you don't need to work for someone else.  Just start your own business and start taking on the big players.

I agree.  Great words of advice.

Consumerism, Radio Head: Pop is dead?

Mark Beard - Tuesday, June 08, 2010

It has been recently reported that Radiohead’s frontman Thom Yorke claims “pop is dead”

Being interviewed for the 'The Rax Active Citizenship Toolkit' Yorke reportedly said: "It will be only a matter of time - months rather than years - before the music business establishment completely folds"

The loss of the maintstream industry would be "no great loss to the world"

Plus telling musicians not to "tie themselves to the sinking ship".

Links reporting on Thom Yorkes comments

Down Under vs Kookaburra

Info Info - Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Down Under vs Kookaburra

There has been a lot of discussion in recent months around the ‘Down Under’ vs ‘Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree’ case.  See: for the latest.


As the parties are back in court this week, I thought it timely to conduct a closer inspection of what is happening in this case.


It really comes do to an example of the significant portion rule.


Substantial portion

An infringement is seen to have taken place when a ‘substantial portion’ of the copyright-protected work is being used without the permission of the copyright owner or the payment of the correct royalty. So what exactly is a ‘substantial portion’?


It can be a question of quality and or quantity.  The question turns to the particular essence or quality of the part that is taken, not how many words or how much of the melody of the original work are used.  A snippet of a song (like ‘Kookaburra’) can still be an infringement


There is no hard and fast rule — it is different in every case. Generally, however, if the part of the copyright-protected music that you are using is recognisable as having come from somewhere else, you will need to obtain permission or pay a royalty — or provide a defence as to why you did not.


û    I can use any music I want, as long as I change a note or two.

û    I can use up to 13 seconds of a song without gaining permission.

û    As long as I’m not making a profit from using a song, I can use any part of it I want.

û    I didn’t know the part of the song I was using was ‘recognisable’, so I didn’t need to get permission.

û    I’ll just use it. No-one will ever know.



In the current case the authors of ‘Down Under’ are saying that the reference to Kookaburra is an insignificant portion.  It is important to note that their defence did not include a suggestion that there were no similarities between ‘Down Under’ and Kookaburra.  The last phrase of the flute riff in ‘Down Under’ is exactly the same as the opening melody line in Kookaburra.  The court agrees with this assessment and it is now up to the courts to decide what that substantial portion is worth in dollar terms.


Watch this space for a discussion of the courts ruling.

USP: Are you only five minutes ahead of your competitor?

Mark Beard - Thursday, June 03, 2010

USP: Are you only five minutes ahead of your competitor?

The term unique selling proposition (USP) is colloquialism created by advertisers to describe the process of finding (or creating) either a tangible or intangible benefits unique to a particular brand or business.

It’s popularity amongst marketers is understandable given the individualistic nature of democratic economies in which the term emerged and flourished. If we are individuals, why then should products not be individual? It seems only natural that for a product to succeed in must be different?

USP is also consistent with the idea of market positioning – a concept popularized by academics like Phillip Kotler who ascribing that products/services/brands can be created to hold a unique place in the minds’ of consumer relative to competition.

We are led to believe by marketers (and I conceded guilt on my part) that having a USP is a pre-requisite of success, as I myself write:

Differentiation is more than just adding ‘bells and whistles’ to your product, rather it is the process of developing true uniqueness. A unique selling proposition (USP) is a unique feature that establishes your market position. Strong positioning statements require that you establish differences between your products and those of your competitors.
(Beard and O’Hara; 2006, pp.56)

Yet what does it mean to be unique?

Consider this definition:

“…existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics… having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable.”

Consider this anecdote:

Recently a corporate client of mine (operates successfully in a hyper-competitive price-based service industry) asked… “What do you think our USP is?”

I responded by saying… “whatever your USP is… it’s only 5 minutes ahead of your competitors”.

At play of course are deep philosophical question as to what it means to be unique, yet the “truism” of USP is so ingrained in marketing thought that rarely is it questioned – it is simply assumed to be true.

Marketers believe that if we apply USP, greater economic reward will follow. In the case of my client, after studying the “USPs” of several of their key competitors we found little difference between any of them. Success it seems relates to the personality of the customer-facing elements of that business, not in transient, easily copied and price-discounted “features”.

A post-USP world?

Differentiation and market segmentation – phenomena that underpin the idea of USP evolved as means of exacting rents from markets. Meaning, that either by adding utility or perceived value to a product one could charge a higher price for it. While normative for modern consumer, this process of differentiation was not always seen as fair.

In agricultural and commodity markets that dominated simpilier (past) ecomomies it is/was not easy to convince people to pay higher prices for greater perceived value, moreover, it is also seen as unfair. Classical economists were keen on the term “exacting rents” because it intrinsically denotes unfairness.

USP is the first casualty in the battle of web-based marketing supremacy

Every market in today’s global economy is awash with competitors who claim to be unique. Search any term in Google and watch as a plethora of competitors offering products and services with little or no discernable difference will attempt to get your click. 

So how to attract customer/fans/patrons?

First of all, if you are looking for the answer, I don’t have it. All I can do is assist in helping you ask questions.

Importantly, prescriptive approaches and checklists of marketing success are oxy-moronic. If marketing phenomena were scientifically provable then everyone would have the same advantage, and thus no advantage at all.

Consider the thoughts of Kapferer

When products were rare, the USP (unique selling proposition) was the key concept. As we leave behind brand image, positioning and personality behind we enter the modern age of brand identity. (Kapferer; 2004, pp.106):

So perhaps look to brand identity, which is seen to mirror human identity by combining personality traits and cultural phenomena as a source of uniqueness.

Your uniqueness as an artist cannot  be “only 5 minutes ahead your competitor” since no two people nor artist are alike.


Beard, M & O’Hara, B. “Music Marketing, PR & Image Making”, Music Sales, 2006

Kapferer, J. “The New Strategic Brand Management”, Kogan-Page, London, 2004.

Remaining authentic amid a sea of hype

Mark Beard - Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Remaining authentic amid a sea of hype

Recently USA Today journalist Edna Gundersen characterized the career of singer/songwriter Jack Johnson thus: “unbending path of honest self-expressionin today's spectacle-driven pop world, where artifice trumps art, that's a non-conformist stance and one that has impressed legions of admirers”.

So how, in our marketing-driven culture do artists like Jack Johnson remain true to their craft, generate critical acclaim and a sustainable income?

“Consider such as the late jazz pianist Bill Evans, generally aspire to be artistic innovators, attempting to create music that meets their own artistic values of quality while appealing to a genre or sub-culture of fans. Early in his career Evans was troubled by the mysteries of career promotion. Not a natural self-promoter, he resolved to be the best musician he could be, trusting that audiences would find him. Evans never compromised his musical and artistic vision, and although open to new musical ideas, he always maintained the traditional jazz song structure. With this artistic approach he became one of the most successful jazz musicians of all time” (Source: Music Marketing PR and Image Making)

As for Jack Johnson, Billboard chart analyst Keith Caulfield puts it this way:

"There's a certain mystique about him that people find fascinating: how he exists as a musician in a hyper-public world, his conscious decision to lay low as that surfer dude chilling out in Hawaii."

The irony is, that sometimes, artistic serendipity comes first, then the “branding” follows.

We marketers are tempted to assume that the process goes something like this:

  • Through research, identify the unmet needs of market segment.

  • Develop a product and brand story that meets the needs and expectations of that segment.

  • Pull out the “4-Ps” from the marketing toolbox and “pee” all over that market.

  • Wait for the cash to roll in.

But… marketing is non-linear. Don’t assume that just because a pro-forma marketing plan document sets out “marketing” in a rigid order, that marketing in practice follows those rigid steps.

Often product development, (or in Jack Johnson’s case artistic expression) comes first and the “marketing” follows. True it could be argued that product/artistic development is a constituent element of the product “P” in the ubiquitous marketing mix. If this is true, then marketing must be non-linear. It simply defies logic that an artist, like a market researcher would first consult the market prior to creating.

I think Jack Johnson, Bill Evans and even the Ray Kinsella character in Kevin Kosner’s Field of Dreams had it right…” if you build it, he (the fan) will come”.

Read the full Edna Gundersen USA Today article here

The PPCA and increased gym class fees: The PPCA and its fees explained

Ben O'Hara - Friday, May 28, 2010

In recent weeks there has been a lot of discussion regarding the copyright tribunal’s decision to massively increase the fees paid by gyms to the PPCA for the right to play recorded music. It is perhaps a good opportunity to consider the role of the PPCA and the fees that they collect.


Performance and broadcast royalties (sound recording)

In much the same way that royalties are payable for the use of copyright-protected materials such as music and lyrics, they are also payable to the owners of the copyright in the sound recording. Radio stations, television networks and other users of music need to pay the owners of the copyright in the sound recording for the use of the sounds embodied in the master recording.


In fact, most users of music are required to pay both fees.


It can get quite expensive exploiting music written by others. It is a good thing that music is such a powerful force influencing what people buy, where they shop and even what kind of lifestyle they choose to have. Just remember that every time you hear music, it is being exploited for some purpose and the users must therefore compensate the copyright owners. Songwriters, performers and the owners of the sound recording must be able to profit considering the high risk and cost of making the recordings in the first place.


The owner of the copyright in the sound recording is generally the record company — remember, they paid for it, and have the right to collect income generated by the its use. This is a point of contention with many artists. The artist Prince, for example, was so horrified to learn that his old record company, Warner Bros, was making money from his master recordings that he went back into the studio and rerecorded many of his hits — the same as the original, note for note — so that he could own the sound recordings and license their uses.


Artists, however, should get paid a portion of the public performance and broadcast royalties generated by the use of their master recordings


The role of the PPCA

The record companies are, of course, busy being record companies rather than collection societies. The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) is a private company whose shareholders are the major record companies and whose members are Australia’s major and independent record companies. In order to become a member of the PPCA, you must be the owner of copyright in sound recordings or music videos in Australia. Anyone who owns these can and should be a member of the PPCA.



The PPCA collected $11.9 million in revenue in 2004, of which $8.9 million was distributed to its members.

Calculating performance and broadcast royalties (sound recordings)

The PPCA calculates its licence fees using a variety of methods. Visit the PPCA’s website at for a detailed list of current fees.


Below are a few examples:


As with APRA, the PPCA are constantly reviewing and updating their licence fees, the figures below should only be used as a guide.

  • Jukeboxes: Annual fee of $97.90 per machine.

  • General licences:  Annual fee of $107.80 to cover the use of protected sound recordings at:

    open-air events (including carnivals, fêtes, garden parties and similar events)

    school or church concerts

    dance academy concerts

    motivational speaking events.

  • Single event licence/permit: Annual fee of $46.86 per event (dependent upon usage and audience).

  • Cinemas (including drive-ins and outdoor screens): Annual fee of $222.75 per screen.

  • Nightclubs, fixed discotheques and discotheque promoters: Where protected sound recordings are used as musical entertainment, which includes breaks in live performances, the fee is calculated at $0.0726 (i.e. 7.26 cents) per person per night of operation. The minimum annual fee is $125.40.

  • Concert venues: Where protected sound recordings are used as a means of entertaining patrons, including breaks in live performances, the fee is calculated at $2.64 per event (i.e. number of days/nights of operation) for each 1000 people (or part thereof, up to the next 1000) for the room or venue’s capacity. The minimum fee is $46.86.

  • Radio and television: Broadcasters pay a licence fee of about 0.025% of the station’s gross income.


Music in gym classes are just another example of this fee.  A couple of years ago exactly the same thing happened with the PPCA increasing fees for night clubs. 


You can be certain that as record company income continues to fall, the PPCA will continue to look for other areas where they can generate more revenue.  The record companies successfully hide behind the PPCA even though much of the profits of the company eventually find there way back to the record companies coffers.


My prediction…in the next 12 months we will see another massive in increase in fees for a different type of recorded music user. 


Watch this space.

The Biz to support 2010 AMPAL Industry Forum

Ben O'Hara - Monday, May 10, 2010


For immediate release: 21 April 2010 

The Backstage Pass is a forum evening for young people interested in developing careers in the music industry. An expert panel will feature Ian James (Mushroom Music Publishing), Rae Harvey (Crucial Music), Tim Janes (Shock Records), Charlie Thorpe (Dash & Will) and Catherine Gerard (AMPAL). The evening will begin from 8pm at The Toff in Town on Tuesday, 18 May. Entry is $15 through MoshTix and at the door until sold out.

All young people interested in developing careers within the music industry are invited to a forum night featuring an array of industry panellists from all sectors of 'the biz'. The Backstage Pass information night, is presented by the Australasian Music Publishers Association (AMPAL) and organised by the Music Industry Business Office (MiBO

The Toff in Town will play host to The Backstage Pass on Tuesday May 18th with the evening’s proceedings beginning from 8pm. The expert panellists include Ian James (Mushroom Publishing), Rae Harvey (Crucial Music), Tim Janes (Shock), Charlie Thorpe (Dash & Will) and Catherine Gerrard (AMPAL).

Ian James
has been with Mushroom Music Publishing for over 22 years however has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. In this time Ian has also worked as a Licensing Manager at APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association). Being the Deputy Chairman of APRA and Chairman of AMCOS, he has been closely involved in setting new standards in the music industry. Some of the tasks he entails are: collecting royalties from record labels, television licences, and the most important new revenue, digital downloads.

Rae Harvey
began as a show promoter at the age of 18 when she coordinated 9 bands to play at a party for her birthday. Though only 50 people were invited, a crowd of over 600 showed up. She was soon organising and promoting shows at The Corner Hotel in Melbourne. In 1996 Harvey established her own management company, Crucial Music and became the long term manager of the successful Australian band, The Living End. Harvey has worked with bands Bodyjar, NoFX, Blink 182, Lagwagon and Millencolin. After a breakup scare with The Living End, Harvey began to manage other Australian bands including Children Collide and Gyroscope. Harvey is considered an expert in her field, focusing on managing and preparing tours.

Tim Janes
is the marketing manager of Shock Records. Shock is Australia's leading independent record distributor and music exporter. This involves licensing, marketing and distributing CDs from over 100 international record labels within Australia as well as commercial releases of its Australian artists in overseas markets.  Prior to his work with Shock, Janes started his career in the Melbourne street press magazines Beat and Inpress before moving onto Shock in the late 90s as Local Product Manager.

Charlie Thorpe
, also known as ‘Dash’ one half of the Australian Pop duo, Dash & Will have been performing from a very young age, first performing with ‘Will’ at the age of twelve. The two have performed at many festivals such as: Falls Festival, Push Over, Southbound, Homebake and the prestigious South by South West in Austin, Texas. Dash & Will have also supported such acts as The Kooks, The Ting Tings, The Futureheads, Ben Lee and Van She. The Duo’s first single, " Pick You Up ", was released in May 2008. Their debut album ‘Up in Something’ was released in August 2009.

Catherine Gerrard
is the Executive Director, of publishing and copyright at All Music Publishing and Distribution, also known as AMPD. In her role at AMPD, Catherine has worked with such artists as Missy Higgins, Kate Miller-Heidke, and Silverchair. She has also worked with many catalogues such as Mushroom, Albert Music and Native Tongue. Prior to being at AMPD, Catherine worked in a senior management position at AMEB federal office. Catherine is also the director of AMCOS, the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Association and the chairperson of AMPAL, the Australasian Music Publishers’Association.

Entry into the evening is $15 with tickets available from MoshTix and at the door, until sold out. People interested in attending are encouraged to submit their questions for the panellists prior to the event by emailing

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