APRA was formed in 1926 and has represented the interests of music copyright holders in Australasia since then. In 1929, radio broadcasters in Sydney and Melbourne offered APRA £7 pounds a week to cover the cost of royalties with music broadcasts limited to 66 hours a week. (1) This arrangement broke down in 1931 with APRA banning the playing of records on air. The Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations was formed in that year to sort out problems with royalties and copyright issues and the stations agreed to pay a fixed sum for broadcasting rights.
In 1968, Australian copyright law was changed with the introduction of the Australian Copyright Act. APRA manages the rights of its members under this act. It offers businesses and other organisations a range of licenses to use copyrighted music with APRA monitoring radio and television stations, concert promoters and cinemas in particular. Since 1997, APRA has also represented the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society representing Australasian music publishers.
As at 2005, APRA has 28,000 members in Australasia and represents the interests of 2 million creators and publishers from elsewhere in the world. It collected $146 million in royalties and distributes $127 million to copyright holders. (3)
APRA also runs a number of awards to honour achievements by songwriters including the APRA Awards, the APRA Classical Music Awards and the Screen Awards, all in Australia. In New Zealand, the annual Silver Scroll is awarded by an anonymous judging panel to the year's best-written song on commercial release. Also awarded are the songs receiving the most airplay in New Zealand and overseas for the year.