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The Association of Australian Musicians

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THE ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIAN MUSICIANS
Policy Statement – Federal Election 2016

The Association of Australian Musicians ("AM") is a non-profit think-tank, representation and policy advocacy body, principally concerned with furthering the interests of Australian professional musicians, both composers and performers.

AM differs from the Musicians Union (MUA) and The Alliance(MEAA and AFMA) in that those bodies are principally concerned with the industrial conditions of employee musicians, such as those in orchestras. AM’s constituency is principally independent professional musicians.

What AM stands for

AM’s mission statement is “More Aussie Music”.

To this end, AM advocates for the creative and commercial rights of professional Australian musicians, for the promotion of music education in the community, and for a fairer industry, with a fairer distribution of profits and greater equity generally.

AM is pro-demand. That is, AM is about growing the demand for Australian music and musicians, through policy initiatives such as those described below.

AM’s Policy Positions In Summary

1. Protection of Copyright as an artist’s fair income source;

2. More local content in the media;

3. Adding value to live music and recording industries;

• Business, tax, and employment arrangements that support and facilitate artists’ careers;

• Increasing income for Australian musicians and composers by growing demand for Australian music.

 

AM’s Policy Positions In Detail


1.
PROTECTION OF COPYRIGHT AS AN ARTIST’S FAIR INCOME SOURCE

Composers and Songwriters make a living from fees they get when people perform their songs and compositions.

Currently, a composer of a “musical work” can deal in that work as an item of (intellectual) property – such as by selling it (to a music publisher), or licensing it (eg as a song in a film soundtrack or a TV commercial), or by deriving fees from when a recording of the song is played on the radio, TV, or the internet (such as on Youtube).

Currently, copyright in a song lasts for the lifetime of the composer, plus 70 years. The current government wants to reduce this to 15 years after a work is created. AM is opposed to this idea because it directly impacts on the amount of revenue a copyright holder can receive.

AM ACTION POINT: Review copyright laws to protect Australian independent musicians and composers.

POLICY INSTRUMENT: Copyright In Perpetuity

AM advocates replacing current lifetime plus 70 years arrangements with “copyright in perpetuity”, that is, copyright that never expires, and assignable just like an item of real property.

AM ACTION POINT: Protecting the Interests of a Composer’s Heirs

AM advocates that copyright beneficially assigned to a copyright collecting society should revert to the executor unless otherwise provided for in an artist’s will.

POLICY INSTRUMENT: Voluntary changes to the contracts between artists and copyright collecting societies; Statutory change if necessary.

 

2. MORE LOCAL MUSIC CONTENT IN THE AUSTRALIAN MEDIA

AM supports more Australian music on the radio, on TV, and elsewhere. “More Aussie Music” helps fulfil the objects of the Broadcasting Services Act.

AM ACTION POINT: An increase in the minimum of Australian content in the Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice; by consent with the industry, and by statutory requirement if necessary.

AM ACTION POINT: Preferential purchasing, commissioning and licensing of Australian musical works in government productions (government service training materials, promotional materials, public organisations, etc).

AM ACTION POINT: Directed funding to the ABC to produce television programs similar to the shows “Rock Arena”, “Countdown, “Beatbox”, and “Recovery”.


3. ADD VALUE TO THE AUSTRALIAN RECORDING AND LIVE MUSIC INDUSTRIES

AM advocates several commercial and business arrangements that will make the business of being a professional musician easier and more sustainable – without being onerous on the taxpayer.

AM ACTION POINT: A fair minimum return on streams to creators.

AM ACTION POINT: An effective payments handling and royalty collection system

More than one copyright collecting society licensed at any given time (ie more players in the market than APRA alone).

AM ACTION POINT: A statutory requirement that Australian musicians be employed or hired, as the case may be, as supporting acts, sidemen, backing musicians etc for overseas performers.

AM ACTION POINT: Creation of a “Foreign Touring Musician” visa, with the option to waive visa fees on a sliding scale according to how many local musicians and/or crew are employed on the tour. The more locals, the lower the visa fee, all the way to zero cost if enough locals are employed.

AM ACTION POINT: Tax

As a matter of ATO policy, allow musicians 120 days to lodge BASes and pay GST.

A ruling to protect musicians and crew who are currently caught up in sham contracting; ATO to adopt the policy position of a rebuttable presumption of sham contracting in the employment/ hiring of musicians.

All motor vehicles used by musicians for income generating purposes to be FBT exempt (in other words, not just the existing exempt vehicles etc).

ATO to develop Tax Rulings and a set of criteria to identify bona fide professional musicians for tax purposes (a so-called “professional musician test”).

Increased education for artists and managers in respect of the Special Professional Tax Averaging provisions.

AM ACTION POINT: Business practices generally

A requirement that promoters carry insurance sufficient to protect their unsecured creditors.

National Licensing of Agents and Managers.

All contracts for foreign performers to include an address for service in both Australia and their country of origin.

Choice of Law for contracts to which foreign performers are a party to be an Australian jurisdiction.

AM ACTION POINT: More sustainable employment conditions for Australian musicians.

Enforcement of National Employment Standards and WHS obligations for PCBU hirers and employers.

A statutory cap on the cost of Public Liability Insurance for musicians.

Statutory prohibition on the requirement for an artist to have their own public liability insurance as a condition of hiring.

Greater transparency in appointments to, and funding of, music organisations at both state and federal level.