Schools need a licence to perform music outside the classroom. This includes performances at concerts, speech nights, fetes, Christmas carol nights, and at other venues outside the school premises such as shopping malls, town halls etc. The APRA Licence grants each participating school a licence to perform in public any work within the APRA repertoire. The APRA repertoire covers musical works, but not sound recordings. For more information on sounds recordings see ‘Playing recorded music’ below.
All government schools and most Catholic and independent schools are covered by the APRA Licence. You can check whether you are covered by contacting your school authority. Note that it does not extend to education departments and administrative bodies.
If schools are performing music in the classroom they can do this under a special copyright exception. See Performance and Communication of Copyright Material in Class.
What does the APRA Licence cover?
The performances may be:
- at schools or
- by students and teachers of a school at non-school venues.
- school concerts and performance evenings (choirs, singing groups, school bands, orchestra or rock bands), school sports days, dance and fitness classes, school formals and dances
- school award nights or graduations
- school performances at music festivals, including music eisteddfods and the NSW Schools Spectacular or equivalent events in other States and Territories
- playing films to students which contain music where that school has a Co-Curricular Licence, including films containing the performance of entire Grand Right Works (an operetta, musical play, revue or pantomime to the extent that it consists of musical works and associated lyrics written expressly for it) and Choral Works (works written to be sung by a choir or other group of singers, with or without any instrumental accompaniment) of more than 20 minutes in duration)
- performances by professional musicians
- performance of musical works in a dramatic context by:
- primary schools
- secondary schools, only if no fee is charged and the performance is not publicised beyond the school community (see ‘Performances requiring APRA’s prior approval’ below)
- performance of a Grand Right Work, provided the work is not performed in its entirety
- performance of a Choral Work of less than 20 minutes duration.
Playing recorded music
Schools are also able to play recorded music at school (eg as music on hold, background music in the staffroom or school foyer) and at school events (eg assemblies, graduations) under both the APRA Licence in relation to the underlying musical works and either s106 of the Copyright Act (for independent and Catholic schools) or an interim licence from PPCA (which is in effect until 30 June 2021 for government schools) in relation to sound recordings.
Schools can charge admission fees for performances under the APRA Licence, as well as under s106, provided that the proceeds made go back to the school or to a charitable cause.
Performances requiring APRA’s prior approval
A secondary school must seek APRA‘s written approval if it wants to perform a musical work in a dramatic context, charge an admission fee for that performance and advertise or promote the performance outside the school community (students, teachers, staff and parents of the school).
What does the APRA licence not cover?
- performance of a Grand Right Work in its entirety (unless performed in a film played under the Co-Curricular Licence)
- Rock Eisteddfod Challenge
- performance of a Choral Work of more than 20 mins duration (unless performed in a film played under the Co-Curricular Licence)
- performances produced by a third party not associated or connected with the school, unless APRA‘s prior written approval has been obtained
- performances where admission fees are charged and the majority of the proceeds do not go back to the school or a charitable cause.