Play by Play

NZ Retail magazine caught up with OneMusic to get the low down on how retailers contribute to the careers of music creators.

When people think of music royalties, they most likely think of artists receiving royalties from their music being played on radio, or more recently through music streaming services. While this is true, this is only a part of the picture. NZ Retail magazine caught up with director of OneMusic Greer Davies to get the low down on how retailers contribute to the careers of music creators – from local indie rock bands to the world’s biggest pop stars.

Who is OneMusic when they’re at home?

We license businesses that use music on behalf of APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ, who return licence fees collected to music creators, songwriters, composers, music publishers, recording artists and record labels, as royalties.

OneMusic is the licensing brand for APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ. Both are member organisations, which means that after administration costs all money collected is returned to music creators as royalties.

So, OneMusic collects licence fees from businesses and pays music creators, sounds simple enough. But how do you know who to pay?

Each year OneMusic collects approximately $3.3 million in licence fees from retail stores playing background music. Of this, approximately $1.12 million, approximately 34 percent, is distributed directly to the artists of the songs played, and the remainder is distributed by analogy, an approximation of what was played using data from other sources.

Direct distribution – how does that work?

Increasingly retailers are choosing to use background music suppliers – music companies that craft playlists and tailor music solutions for retail stores. Each quarter these companies tell us what songs have been supplied to their clients, and this data is used by APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ to pay the music creators whose music has been used.

How is the remainder distributed?

For the businesses that don’t use background music suppliers and play music from radio, CD or digital services, it’s much more difficult to track the music they play. Typically, a retailer will play over 2000 hours of background music each year, representing thousands of songs. Multiply that by the thousands of businesses we licence, and you can start to see what a difficult job it is to direct the license fees to the songs that those businesses play. We’re also very conscious to keep our overheads as low as possible, so as much money as possible goes back to the music creators we work for.

For this reason, the remaining 66 percent is distributed using data we receive from commercial radio stations, student, community and iwi radio stations, music streaming services and television networks. While it’s not a perfect match, we believe the data we use is broadly representative of the music played by retail businesses.

It’s also worth mentioning that we have our eye on developing technologies that may be able to improve the accuracy of our background music distributions for retailers, so watch this space.


Having permission to play music in a business environment is required by law under the NZ Copyright Act (1994), and is a non-negotiable start to making the most of music in-store.

OneMusic offer simple annual music licences that grant businesses permission to use virtually all commercially released music. A OneMusic licence gives you peace of mind that your business is on the right side of the law, and ensures that music creators are fairly compensated for the use of their music.

For more information or to apply for a licence to play music in your store click here.