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PPCA vs the nightclubs

by Seb Chan on July 11th, 2007

So here we go again.

The PPCA has managed to get granted a rather large increase in compulsory license fees to nightclubs in Australia. Rather large meaning a 15x increase.

Being someone who has spent a fair bit of time in clubs both as a punter and a performer there is something slightly strange about the logic here. Now, if the PPCA was ensuring that the money collected, say, for a dubstep night went back to those very artists whose music was being DJed then I don’t think too many people would mind (other than the club owners), but the reality is, that for every club except those that play Top 40 chart music, club music is by and large not represented effectively by collecting agencies.

This lack of representation by collecting agencies is something that has been on many people’s minds – not least of all those making music. I was speaking to Luke Snarl at work about the dubstep net radio stations and he was telling me the tale of one premier dubstep station that was hit with a bill from a collecting agency in the UK . . . only to find support from all the artists and DJs in the scene (many of whom were also producers), who wrote back to the collecting agency and told them to politely ‘butt out’. The dubstep producers were happy to have their music disseminated free of charge in DJ mixes by the station – it helped their music spread further, and also gave them vital feedback as to what might work best in the club, and what tracks were best to press up as dubplates.

Talking about what Luke calls ‘320 culture’ – the culture of sharing one’s own 320k bitrate MP3s to other DJs and producers – that has sprung up around dubstep was fascinating. here were producers sharing MP3s and having DJs press them up as vinyl dubplates from the MP3s for testing in the clubs. As the 320s circulate they get ‘versioned’, remixed, VIPed, etc and turn up in many different dubplate/physical versions.

Culture moves fast. Industry, law and policy struggle to keep up.

I penned a short note to the Sydney Morning Herald letters page today, hoping at least for a cheap laugh –

Dear Editor

re: Clubs in a spin over record increases

There seems to be a lot of panic about rising costs for nightclubs at the hands of the Copyright Tribunal and the PPCA, whose spokespeople are a drummer and bass player. I wonder if anyone realised that in all the music played in any reputable club these days, drummers have been replaced with drum machines, and bass players with synthesizers and sequencers. I wonder if that’s what ‘mechanical’ royalties are really about?

Sebastian Chan

From → Politics, Words

3 Comments
  1. Great succinct letter.

    I find it amazing the PPCA can do this straight faced. They assign royalties from club play according to the ARIA club charts, which seem to have only minor overlap with music that’s actually played in clubs.

  2. Ewan permalink

    You’ll be barred from jazz clubs, you know…

  3. Oh I already am. Since I shaved my beard they keep me out.

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