DO ensure that you are an APRA member, as well as an AMCOS member!

Up to 60% of your life’s income as a screen composer is through royalties… be aware that if you are an APRA member, that doesn’t automatically mean you have an AMCOS membership and you could be missing out on royalties if you are unpublished!

Your must register your works and cue sheets with APRA AMCOS for you to receive royalties. A cue sheet is a list of all the music and songs used in a film and television production. Unless you or the producers submit this list to APRA AMCOS you will not be paid your royalties. Make sure that the details of each musical work matches your registrations.

Join APRA AMCOS as a writer here, and contact APRA AMCOS (+61 9935 7900) for further information.

DO retain your Writer’s share!

In Australia, you have a statutory right to your Writer’s share of your royalties and this cannot be granted to third parties. However, if you are working on overseas commissions it is important to be aware that in some territories it is possible to relinquish your Writer’s share. However, we believe that your Writer’s share is sacrosanct and should never be given up! Read Protecting Your Writer’s Rights from our friends at the American Society of Composers and Lyricists.

DO read your contracts!

Don’t sign a contract you don’t fully understand! If you don’t understand anything, talk to fellow composers, a friend, reach out to the AGSC, APRA and seek legal advice. Remember that AGSC members have access to a free consultation with a media lawyer! Email us at to set this up.

DO charge for what you do!

Gain an acknowledgement of an upfront fee to include your time, expertise and studio costs.

Try to limit or negotiate the lowest percentage given to the publisher/production company. Remember that the maximum a publisher is entitled to is 50% of your overall public performance royalties. If you don’t ask to retain more of your publishing, you won’t get it! Historically in Australia it is not routine to hand over your publishing rights. Don’t forget that that unless you have a publisher you are automatically entitled to the entire so-called ‘Publisher’s share’ of the royalties. More information here.

DO look after yourself

This is a tough career, often littered with many deep troughs and fewer high peaks. Studies have demonstrated that screen composers have up to 5 times a greater risk of suffering symptoms of depression, and 10 times the risk of displaying symptoms of anxiety than the general population. Talk to your fellow composers. Reach out to us. Come to Guild events. Negotiate feasible schedules and work conditions to avoid burn out and manage client expectations. An understanding ear can go a long way. If you are suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression help is available. Contact Beyond Blue, Lifeline or Support Act for assistance.