Wednesday, March 31, 2010
TODAYonline | Singapore | Pay, or face the music - 31 March 2010

TODAYonline Singapore Pay, or face the music

Pay, or face the music
by Alicia Wong and Teo Xuanwei 05:55 AM Mar 31, 2010SINGAPORE - Will the photo montage shown at the next wedding celebration you attend still be accompanied by popular love songs?

Perhaps not, if the newlyweds decide against paying for the use of the music.

In a sure sign that copyright owners of commercial music - lyricists, composers, producers, and songwriters - are hunting down infringements, Recording Industry Performance Singapore (Rips) and Music Publishers (Singapore) (MPS) held an educational talk for wedding photographers and videographers on Monday night.

Their message: Pay for the copyrighted work or use royalty-free music. Otherwise, face criminal or civil action.

In January, Rips - which represents about 90 per cent of record labels here - introduced a new licensing scheme under which wedding videographers and photographers have to pay $2,000 for the unlimited use of copyrighted work for a year.

Rips, which administers the scheme on behalf of 14 record companies, said it was set up to make it simple to obtain a licence.

So far, it has not taken any enforcement action against anyone yet.

MPS is following suit. The cost of its licence will be announced by the end of next month and is not expected to be higher than Rips'.


But that is not all. If any video is to be uploaded online, a different licence is needed from Rips and the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass).

This follows MediaCorp's report last December that Compass has - since the beginning of last year - been clamping down on the illegal use of copyrighted music at weddings.

What this means, said some in the profession, is that customers may have to pay more eventually.

According to cinematographer Tham Why Keen, the price of music has not been factored into current industry rates.

However, videographers and photographers are already supposed to seek the approval of the relevant record label and publisher when using copyrighted songs. Most have not been doing so.

Couples who put together their own photo and video montages will still need to get a licence from the relevant record label and publisher for use of copyrighted material.

This would, in all probability, set them back at least a few hundred dollars.

Some videographers said they are waiting for MPS to finalise the cost of its licence before deciding what to do.

Videographer Sean Seah said this is so they can decide whether or not to pay for a licence and if they want to "distribute the costs to couples" .


His company could end up charging $200 to $400 more per job, said a videographer who has been in the industry for five years.

"We're just earning a small amount," he said, of the company which handles between 40 to 50 weddings a year. "We will definitely have to pass on costs to customers."

The alternative is to use royalty-free material, which cost about $80 per song.

The general view is that freelancers, who typically charge lower rates and work on less than 20 weddings a year, will be less able to offset the licence costs.

They could either try to avoid paying, or end up with their business badly affected.

"You can't really change the market rate," said Mr Tham.

"If you are charging $600, you can't just shoot up to $1,000."

Teacher Stephanie Lim, who plans to get married next year, said videographers are already costly, and an additional $300 or $400 would be "steep".

Current daily rates for a videographer range from about $600 to about $4,000.


During the two-hour session on Monday night - held at the Ocean Butterfly studios - attendees threw a barrage of questions at Rips and MPS representatives.

Chief among their concerns: How can they convince customers that any hike in their fees is due to licensing costs?

While they supported the new scheme, many said they were confused by the different licences needed, and suggested being allowed to pay on a "per-song" basis.

Rips and MPS said that would be more costly but they would bring this up for discussion with their stakeholders. Said Mr Seah: "Even if it's $100 per song, it's still easier to justify (the costs) to customers."

posted by Muse+Hues @ 7:09 PM

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