Music licensing in PH: Q&A with Peewee Apostol

Published December 7, 2021, 9:42 PM

by Manila Bulletin Entertainment

Peewee Apostol

Music is an essential component in any content, programs, commercial establishments, and public performances. However, you cannot legally use music you have not written yourself, or licensed from a music library or the owners to publish it online or publicly. It’s that simple.

“A music license is necessary before using any music because those are intellectual properties and like any other right, the right owners should be compensated for the use of their music properties for profit,” explains Peewee Apostol, Head of Licensing of the Philippine Recording Music Rights Inc. (PRM). In short, it permits you to play music in your business or organization.

Being the Head of Licensing, Apostol is responsible for the company’s financial growth, in close coordination with the Licensing Team. “I’m the lead in seeking, negotiating, and closing licensing deals with music users such as broadcast networks, online platforms, and commercial establishments such as retail shops, malls, restaurants, bars, clinics, and spas, for the public performances of original sound recordings,” he shares. “I maintain good business relationships with licensees and manage a healthy working relationship with the Board of Trustees and my co-workers.”

Before working in PRM, Apostol had stints as Country Manager for the Philippines of Warner/Chappell Music, one of the major music publishers in the world; Head of Publishing and Licensing at Star Songs, ABS-CBN Corp.; Head of Licensing and Distribution at Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (FILSCAP); and Regional Licensing Manager at International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) in Hong Kong.

Find out more from Apostol how you can leverage this area of the music industry. Here are excerpts of the interview:

1) What are your three favorite aspects of being the Head of Licensing and why?

a. Representing and enforcing the rights of our member record companies and recording artists. It’s been advocacy from my earlier years in the music industry. The more creative artists become aware of their intellectual property rights, the better for them to appreciate the works of collective management organizations like PRM.

b. Developing a network of decision-makers in the broadcast, hotel, transport, and retails industries which will be very helpful in putting PRM message across about copyright and neighboring rights and the importance of being compliant with the laws on music copyright.

c. Increasing public knowledge about intellectual property rights, through seminars and workshops for the public, will make better citizens who are aware of the rights and privileges of creative artists.

3) What types of licenses are associated with music publishing? Who collects royalties? What is the current royalty rate?

Music publishing represents the publishing rights of composers, lyricists, and music publishers – mechanical reproduction rights, synchronization rights, digital rights, and public performance. The music publisher issues licenses covering the first three rights. The public performance rights are in turn assigned to FILSCAP, which issues public performance licenses and collects royalties on behalf of its member composers and music publishers.

On the other hand, PRM represents the public performance rights of record labels and recording artists in the sound recordings, which is different from FILSCAP. PRM collects license fees for those rights and distributes the royalties to its members.

The royalty rates for public performance are defined in the rate cards of FILSCAP and PRM and they differ from one another according to categories – broadcasting, hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, transport, etc.

4) What is a music license? Why get a music license?

A music license, in our case a public performance license, is the authority to publicly pay the music catalogs belonging to the members of PRM in their business establishments to enhance their profits (i.e. enticing customers to visit, stay and patronize their products).

5) What is the music licensing process in the country compared to abroad?

The music licensing process is the same all over the world. The intended music user seeks out the rights owners of the music they intend to use, negotiate a license fee, pay the license fee, and get a license for the specific music usage. The difference may lie in the rates of license fees per country, per type of use, territories of usage, duration of the license, etc.

6) What is typical music licensing deal? Please cite an example.

If a retail outlet, says Adidas, wants to play piped-in music in their branches all over the country, Adidas will seek out FILSCAP (for composers and music publishers) and PRM, IMPRO, or PRSP (for record companies and recording artists) and negotiate a blanket annual public performance license for the use of music of FILSCAP and PRM, IMPRO and PRSP members within a specific year.

With that license, Adidas can play any type or number of music in their branches the whole year-round. Adidas will have to pay the 4 CMOs because each CMO represents a set of members that are not members of the other CMOs.

7) What is our advice to those who would like to get into this kind of job or endeavor?

You should hold some passion for music and the protection of rights of creative people – composers, lyricists, arrangers, session musicians, recording artists, etc. – so that a sense of fulfillment comes with the work you will do.

To succinctly put, what PRM advocates, “Music adds value to your business.”

For more information on PRM, visit the website – (Ruby Asoy-Lebajo)