Why does my business need a music licence?

Under New Zealand law you need permission from music creators to play their music in your business.

This permission is required regardless of how you play music – whether you play the radio, TV, CDs, or use digital music services such as Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube. Simply buying music or paying for a subscription service does not give you the permission you need to play music in a business setting.

All businesses that play music, from cafes, bars and nightclubs to retail stores, gyms, hairdressers and pharmacies, need permission from music creators to play their music.

What is a public performance?

A public performance is the playing of music in a business, commercial environment, or any other non-domestic setting. In these settings, even if a performance is given for free, the audience is small or you are playing music to the members of a club or society, this does not exclude it from being a public performance under the Copyright Act (1994).

I have paid for the music I play, so why do I need a licence?

Simply buying music does not provide the rights to use this music in a commercial or public setting. Music is sold for private/domestic use, so any use of this music by a business or organisation is a public performance that requires licensing. The same rule applies whether you have purchased a physical CD, bought a digital download or stream music through a subscription service.

How much do music licences cost?

Licence fees take into account how music is used by different types of businesses and organisations, the value it offers, the size of a business and any other relevant factors that may have been raised by the industry groups we meet with regularly. Visit the music licences section for details on the licences available for different businesses and industries.

When should I apply for a licence?

Anyone starting a new business should contact OneMusic if their intention is to play music to customers. Your OneMusic licence will commence from when your business starts using music. If you are already playing music, and have only recently been made aware that your business requires a music licence you should apply for a OneMusic licence immediately.

Is holding a licence a legal requirement?

Yes it is. The Copyright Act clearly establishes these public performance rights. The Copyright Act also outlines the penalties for anyone in breach of the Act.

Does this only happen in New Zealand?

No - similar copyright laws exist around the world and music licensing organisations operate in many other territories around the world.

Where does the money go?

We keep track of what New Zealanders are listening to - we collect data from music streaming services, background music suppliers, radio stations, television stations, music recognition software and live performers.

Each month we analyse over 330 million lines of data to direct the licence fees you pay as accurately as possible.

OneMusic is a joint licensing initiative between APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ. After administration costs, all money is distributed to their local and international members as royalties.

Find out more from APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ.

What's the connection between OneMusic, APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ?

OneMusic is a joint licensing initiative between APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ. Previously, businesses have needed a licence from both APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ (previously known as PPNZ Music Licensing) to cover all copyrights in recorded music. Having to apply for two separate licences was both confusing and time consuming for businesses, so OneMusic was created to offer a single music licence covering all the permissions needed for businesses and other organisations to play music in public.

What's the connection between OneMusic New Zealand and OneMusic Australia?

OneMusic New Zealand is a joint licensing initiative between APRA AMCOS New Zealand and Recorded Music New Zealand. OneMusic Australia is a joint licensing initiative between APRA AMCOS Australia and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). PPCA represent record labels and recording artists for the public performance of sound recordings. Learn more about OneMusic Australia here.

What happens if I don't hold a licence?

To be fair to the businesses that hold a OneMusic licence, and to the musicians who created and own the music being played, OneMusic runs a compliance programme. This involves visiting businesses to confirm whether they play our members’ music and if so, following up to ensure an appropriate licence is taken out. Our licensing team provides those using music with all the information they need and are happy to talk through any issues or questions. If a business using our members’ music simply refuses to hold the appropriate licence, legal proceedings are issued to reach a resolution.

I have sold my business or ceased trading - how do I cancel my account?

If you have sold your business, or have ceased trading we need you to let us know in writing. If you have sold your business, complete a OneMusic Change of Ownership form, or if you have ceased trading complete a OneMusic Licence Cancellation Request form.

Is OneMusic a government organisation?

No. OneMusic is a joint initiative between APRA and Recorded Music NZ. Both APRA and Recorded Music NZ are non-government, member organisations representing owners of music and the recordings of that music. Music and sound recordings are protected under New Zealand law by the Copyright Act (1994). To find out more about each organisation visit www.apra.co.nz and www.recordedmusic.co.nz

Who can verify that I need a OneMusic licence?

You can find out more about why you need a licence and the authenticity of our rights from New Zealand associations and other industry and government bodies.

Citizens Advice

What is a Music Review?

As part of your licence we may ask you to complete a Music Review. Annual Music Reviews are your opportunity to tell us about your music use for the previous 12 months, and to ensure that the licence fees you pay are in line with the music you use.

Learn more about how Music Reviews work for your industry here.


What is the OneMusic COVID-19 discount?

COVID-19 has affected us all. To make things easier, if you are an existing OneMusic customer that closed for any length of time because of COVID-19 we're giving you a 25% discount on your background music fees.

I've received a reminder and / or final notice, why?

You may receive both a reminder and a final notice after you receive your discount-adjusted invoice. These are automated notifications that are a result of us putting your account on hold while we applied the discount. Please disregard these notifications - you will have 21 days to pay from the date of your new invoice.

Are there payment plans available?

We know that many businesses are struggling following COVID-19. To make things easier we have flexible payment plans available for all businesses that need them, with many businesses choosing to pay monthly. Apply for a payment plan here.

I use live music, DJs, karaoke, and/or exercise classes (featured music)

As well as giving customers a 25% discount, if you have featured music on your account we’re also asking you to tell us how many days of featured music you hosted in the period that included lockdown. In this way you receive a discount on your background music fee for the time you were closed, and you don’t pay for featured music that didn’t happen because of COVID-19.

What period does the discount apply to?

The discount applies to the background music fees of the invoice period during which the COVID-19 lockdown period fell – March, April and May 2020. In most cases this invoice will have already been paid, so the discount will result in a credit on your account. This will reduce the amount payable on your next invoice.

I didn't receive a discount - why?

The COVID-19 discount is for businesses that closed because of COVID-19. While this covers most of our customers, a handful of essential services and other business sectors that continued to operate did not have a discount applied to their accounts. If you did not receive a discount and would like this decision reviewed please contact us.

What about my prompt payment discount?

If you received a prompt payment discount on your invoice for the previous period, this will be reapplied when you receive your discount. This means the discount you receive will be a 30% discount, rather than a 25% discount. If you pay your invoice for the forward period before the due date you will also receive a 5% discount on the amount due for the coming year.


What music is covered under OneMusic licences?

Through the membership of APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ and through reciprocal agreements with similar organisations around the world, OneMusic’s repertoire covers the vast majority of music available worldwide - from local indie rock bands to the world's biggest artists. The repertoire is added to daily as new music is created, released and registered with us. If you have any questions about whether the music you play is covered by OneMusic please contact us on 0800 800 663.

How do you know what music I play?

Wherever possible we try to match the licence income we receive with data on the music that has been played. However, it would be unrealistic to expect every business and organisation to provide us with complete playlists of all the music they play. For this reason we distribute public performance income based on the detailed data we receive from commercial radio stations, student, community and iwi radio stations, television broadcasters, live performance returns and background music suppliers.

I only play music from the radio - do I still need a licence?

Yes. Playing music from the radio in a commercial setting is a public performance of that music. As programming often includes advertising and commentary from DJs, the licence fee for public performance of music via the radio is set at half the rate of the standard background music licence fee.

I only play music from other countries such as Thailand, Italy or Mexico. Do I still need a licence?

Through APRA and Recorded Music NZ, OneMusic holds reciprocal agreements with similar organisations and rights holders around the world.  In practice this means that OneMusic collects royalties for the use of other countries’ music in New Zealand, and they collect royalties for the use of our members’ music in their countries.  Through these agreements OneMusic represents a vast repertoire of music from around the world. If you believe you only play music that is outside the OneMusic repertoire please contact us on 0800 800 663 so we can confirm this with you.

What does "premises" area mean, and what does it include?

When calculating the premises area of your business, you should include the area where music is played to the public. For instance, if music is played in toilets or outside areas that are open for use by customers, these areas should be included. However, areas used solely by staff such as storage areas, kitchens, staff rooms and toilets etc do not need to be included in the premises calculation.

How do I measure the premises size?

Square metres are calculated by multiplying the length and the width of your premises area. For instance, if an area is 20 metres wide by 50 metres long it would be 1000 square metres.  If you are pacing out the length and width of the premises area, each long stride will be approximately one metre.

What do I receive from OneMusic?

When you hold a OneMusic licence you receive the legal permission you need to play millions of songs from all corners of the globe. You can be sure your business is complying with copyright law and that music creators are being paid for the use of their work. You also receive a counter signed copy of your licence agreement, and a sticker for your window to show your customers, guests or members know that you support music creators.


Why don't the DJs and bands that play at my venue hold a licence instead of me?

The person/business authorising a public performance is responsible for holding the public performance licence. While you may hire bands or DJs, it is the pub, club, bar or restaurant that is obliged to hold the licence.

I have bands and DJs on the same night. Do I need to pay two per day rates?

No. If you have a live band and a DJ on the same day, you only have to pay one “per day” rate and this would be the DJ rate. If you have a live band and karaoke on the same night, again only one “per day” rate applies.

What is the definition of a DJ?

A DJ is a performer providing a “real time” programme of music additional to a venue’s regular background music service. A DJ provides recorded music entertainment using equipment such as turntables, CD players, digital music devices.

Why do I need a licence for a band, when I pay the band, and they play originals?

The members of a band performing at your venue might not be the owners of the copyright in the music they perform. For instance, the band might have eight people in it but only two of these band members wrote the music they play. Alternatively, the music may have been co-written by some other person who is not part of the band at all. The OneMusic “live” fee is for the people who wrote and own that music. These songwriters are members of APRA (or similar affilliated international organisations) and receive their songwriting royalties via the OneMusic licence fee.


How can I pay for my licence?

There are a few easy ways to pay your OneMusic invoice.


Direct Banking (EFT) to the OneMusic Account:
APRA New Zealand Trading as OneMusic
Please use your client number and legal name as Reference when making your payment.
Remittances can be sent to accounts@onemusicnz.com.


You can call us to arrange payment by Credit Card (no transaction fees apply).
Call us 0800 800 663, weekdays 9am - 5pm. 
Payment by Visa and Mastercard only.


We also have Payment Plan options (Direct Debit), available on request. ​

Can I pay my licence quarterly?

If your invoice is $1,000 (excluding GST) or more you can choose to pay quarterly. Please note, the 5% prompt payment discount does not apply to quarterly invoicing. For accounts under this amount we have Payment Plan options, available on request. If for any reason you’re having difficulty paying your invoice, please also contact us on 0800 800 663.

I'm selling my business - can I part-pay?

OneMusic licences are non-transferrable.  If you are selling your business please contact us with details of the new owners so we can cancel your account and set up an account with the new owners.  As licence fees are paid annually in advance, if you sell your business part-way through the year you may be eligible for a refund. Please contact us for more information.


How long does copyright last?

In New Zealand, copyright in musical works continues for 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the author died. Copyright in sound recordings continues for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the sound recording was made.

Where can I find the Copyright Act (1994)?

You can find a full copy of the Copyright Act (1994) on the www.legislation.govt.nz website.

I disagree with music licensing, where can I get independent advice?

We recommend that anyone with questions about music licensing should contact their own independent lawyer or other legal advisor. If you are looking for more general advice, most industry trade associations are aware of music licensing requirements for businesses and host information on their websites.

Who can verify that I need a OneMusic licence?

You can find out more about why you need a licence and the authenticity of our rights from New Zealand associations and other industry and government bodies.

Citizens Advice