Are you a bar, pub, tavern, or restaurant owner and have a venue in Down Under? Do you know the rules and regulations regarding karaoke music licensing in Australia?

To run karaoke commercially at your establishment, you need 1. legal karaoke content and 2. public performing rights. What does it mean? Let’s dig in!

Karaoke songs are reproductions of popular songs. Karaoke versions are not the originals but produced by karaoke companies and music producers as karaoke versions. Read more about how karaoke song versions are produced here.

What do you need to run legal karaoke? Firstly, you cannot play karaoke tracks from Youtube or some random karaoke discs – for commercial use, that’s simply illegal, so make sure you have 100% permissible karaoke content.

Woman singing karaoke with her eyes closed

Professional karaoke software, like Singa Business, provides fully-licensed karaoke for commercial purposes. It can be wired or wirelessly set up to your venue’s existing PA & video system. It's effortless to use, and designed to work as a modern-day streaming service, much like Spotify or Netflix. It is intuitive and requires no training or instructions for staff or customers. When your venue is Singa-powered, you are all set with a wide selection of popular karaoke songs. All Singa Business options come with background music services and digital signage services. Check Singa Business options and prices here.

Tablet computer with Singa karaoke software on-screen and a karaoke singer with karaoke lyrics behind her

Secondly, if you hire a KJ (karaoke jockey), make sure their content is legal. According to Music Rights Australia:

“As the owner or operator of premises you may be held liable for authorising copyright infringement at your premises by allowing the KJ to use pirate karaoke discs or MP3 files.”

Needless to say: the consequences of illegal music are no joke. The maximum penalties for unauthorized copying (including over the internet), selling, distributing, importing, performing, or possessing bootleg karaoke content in Australia might result in $60,500 or 5 years imprisonment for each track infringed. Better not run away from responsibilities.

2. Permission for music: What are public performing rights?

Public performing includes commercial venues, pubs, bars, and restaurants, as well as commercial mediums such as TV and radio. Public performing rights permit you to play music in a public space opposed to the privacy of friends and family.

In Australia, having permission to play music in a business setting is a legal requirement under the Copyright Act (1968). This requirement is valid regardless of what industry you operate in or how you play music.

APRA AMCOS represents songwriters, composers, and music publishers in Australia and New Zealand. The organization oversees copyrights for its members' music and lyrics. PPCA represents the interest of record labels and Australian recording artists. It holds rights to the broadcast, communication, and public playing of recorded music and music videos. ARIA, on the other hand, oversees the collection, administration, and distribution of music licenses and royalties.

Musician performing in a public space in Australia

How to get a karaoke business license?

The system in Australia makes this part easy. You can get the license for commercial and public performing from one place, OneMusic Australia. This joint initiative between APRA AMCOS and PPCA grants commercial use of musical works, sound recordings, and music videos, meaning you'll only pay for one license in one place.

As an example, the JOINT Rights license by OneMusic Australia is a karaoke music license that covers both the recorded karaoke music in a dedicated karaoke area and background music throughout the entire venue. The license fee depends on how many people fit a single karaoke area and how many karaoke rooms you have.

Here are a couple of examples:

Screenshot of the karaoke info sheet at OneMusic Australia explaining karaoke license fees
Source: Karaoke info sheet at OneMusic Australia, page 6.

In case you’re wondering about the possible sanctions for failing to get an appropriate karaoke license, OneMusic Australia states:

“Music licence fines from OneMusic Australia (APRA AMCOS or PPCA) are determined by a Judge at Court. Fines vary and can be based on how long the unlicensed music has been playing, interest charges, extra costs for damages and legal fees.”

Not worth testing your luck on that one. For more information on karaoke licensing and prices, check out the karaoke info sheet at OneMusic Australia.

If you are interested in how karaoke licenses work in the UK and US, take a look at these informative Singa blog posts: UK karaoke licenses explained here and USA karaoke licensing here.

Now that you have your karaoke license knowledge all set – good on ya. Wishing you and your customers chill karaoke sessions! 🇦🇺♬