New figures from APRA AMCOS - the Australasian music licensing business - reveal a big rise in revenue as composers take advantage of booming demand for onscreen music and the rapid growth in streaming services.

Total music licensing revenue for Australasia from APRA AMCOS was up 11 per cent to $355 million in the year to June 30.

Of that, some $315m was paid to songwriters and publishers - up 14 per cent on a year earlier.

Streaming revenue - from services like Spotify - was up 140 per cent to $29 million.


New Zealand accounted for just $43m of the total revenue paid to artists but growth figure were broadly in line with those for the total.

It has has been well publicised that streaming services are putting the squeeze on music sales revenue.

So what's going on? Are song writers really making more money than ever?

More likely the answer is that there are more song writers than ever.

In fact APRA notes that globally it now makes licensing payments to more than 248,000 songwriters who generated more than one million pieces of income-generating content for the first time last year.

"We've become a data company where we are now forced to process and consume so much data from companies like Spotify and Apple Music and we're slicing that pie into increasing infinitesimal slices," said APRA head of New Zealand operations Anthony Healey.

"So we're paying a lot more people, probably, less money."
It would be wrong to assume that there was an earnings boom for the average song writer, he said.

But demand for content was higher than ever and there was growing opportunity for those creating music to license it commercially around the world.

"A large proportion of the higher earning APRA members are those writers that make music for the screen, whether that be in film, television, online formats or even gaming."

While it was good news to see the growth in demand and global reach for local music composers it was important to recognise that it was still a tough job, Healey said.

"It is by no means an easy career choice for anyone to make and it still involves and enormous amount of risk."

In New Zealand about 10,000 writers were paid by APRA for their work in the past year, Healey said.

While the traditional notion of making a fortune writing a hit song in your bedroom hadn't gotten easier, we did have a good local example of that in the success of Joel Little and Lorde, Healey said.

APRA's export earnings were also up 12 per cent in the past year and that reflected the success of Lorde and Australian artists like Sia.

Their ability to access the global market the way they had probably couldn't have happened 20 years ago, he said.

Sweet music

• $355m total music licensing revenue for Australasia, up 11%.
• $315m paid to songwriters and publishers, up 14%.
• $43m of revenue paid to artists account for by New Zealand.
• $29m streaming revenue from services like Spotify, up 140%.