Calling all bloggers, bands, labels, managers, PR, composers and artists – this affects you.

Update: The Guardian have covered the issue below too.
Update 2: Shane (The Torture Garden) Darragh (Asleep on a Compost Heap) and myself will be meeting with IMRO on Thursday with IMRO to discuss and voice our concerns.

A few days ago I was contacted by an IMRO representative who asked me to pay for the IMRO/MCPSI Limited Online Exploitation Licence as this site “is making copyrighted music available online”. Having been involved in, a limited company, when they’ve paid this for the last two years I wasn’t hugely surprised to be contacted for this blog and asked to pay but I do think this has the potential to decimate the music blogosphere. IMRO are preparing an FAQ on this at the moment but in the meantime..

Here are the licence details they are asking myself, The Torture Garden and Asleep on a Compost Heap (with more expected) to pay:

The MCPSI-IMRO (LOEL) covers the use of music online by small-scale/non-commercial companies and individuals, providing services to the Irish public, whose gross revenue is less then €7,000 per year.

The LOEL covers the making available and mechanical rights in musical works for most types of Limited online and mobile music services. This includes services which offer: Permanent downloads, On-demand streaming and limited downloads, Premium and Interactive Webcasting, Pure Webcasting, Music Podcasting.

The LOEL also covers the following types of audio-visual usage: ‘Promo’ music videos, Live concert performances, Combination of a musical work with images relating to the performer or composer of the work, Use of a musical work with an interview with an artist, composer, producer or other person involved in the creation of music, where the work used is associated with the interviewee.

Firstly, let me get this absolutely straight. I have no problem paying artists royalties if that is required. Like many I thought that MP3s which were cleared by bands and labels for promo were provided as is – gratis and without any attachments or additional requirements other than to promote the band and song. Y’know, the same way an entire music blogosphere and a digital PR industry has been allowed to grow up over the course of the last 10 years thinking the same.

My biggest gripe with this licence is that it’s a blanket fee that doesn’t take into account the size of a blog or site really. Sure, it has three price bands but lumping a music blogger who blogs from home in his spare time in with a professional company is wrong. It will have a reductive and destructive effect on the promotion of music online as many bloggers won’t be able to afford these fees and as a result bands will have less of an outlet to promote their music.

Is the licence fee paid worth more than the promotion of bands and hence, gig attendance, record sales etc? IS this what the bands want? Do bands want bloggers to pay licence fees to promote their songs – do speak up. After all, IMRO is speaking on your behalf already and they have decided to apply this licence to music sites and blogs without any negotiation or dialogue apart from here’s a licence, pay it. IMRO will negotiate with Youtube, concert promoters such as POD concerts so is there room here for negotiation?

Update: According to IMRO, there is no room for negotiation on the licence, as it is a published scheme. If people would like to get in touch with their queries they should direct them to [email protected].

For those wondering what exactly IMRO does, it’s easy to get them confused with IRMA here so here is the difference.

IRMA – a record industry association which represents mostly major labels – Warners, Sony, Universal, EMI, RMG chart and a few others.

IMRO – represents songwriters, composers, music publishers in Ireland in the fields of performing right in copyright, They collect and distribute royalties arising from the public performance of copyright works. They are the Irish equivalent of ASCAP in the US, PRS in the UK.

Got that? So bands, if you’ve registered with IMRO and you’ve ever had your song made available on a blog, this concerns you. If you’re not happy with blogs being asked to pay royalties on songs you’ve provided to us for promotional purposes, tell IMRO about it. They represent YOUR interests. Not one band in five years has ever mentioned IMRO or royalties to me when asking me to post their music.

Can labels, PR, managers, bands and the thousands of people who email music blogs and sites do anything to ensure that the songs they are making available to us are NOT covered by royalty licences or any licence for that matter? Is there actually such a thing as a FREE mp3 as so many PR, labels and bands claim? Or is it a case of music blogs serve their interests until it’s too much hassle to work the system?

2010 has marked a bit of a turning point for music blogging. Google started deleting music blogs at the behest of the DMCA (If you still haven’t got the message yet – move off blogspot/blogger) and now it seems the publishing industry has realised that the internet exists and there is money to be made from the bloggers. So again in digital music, we are at the point of no return – music blogs have become bigger than the legal grey area which they operate in so it’s time to make them pay or shut them down. Most people who operate music blogs (this does not include full-album blogs who somehow remain untouched) are decent people who would want to stay on the legit side of the law but these costs are prohibitory to the idea that anyone can post MP3s from bands (with permission) for promotional purposes.

It now looks like IMRO will be approaching all other Irish music blogs but they’ve also signalled their intent to ask every website which makes itself available in Ireland to pay this licence. That includes international-based sites and blogs like Pitchfork, Stereogum, Gorilla Vs Bear and beyond, right down to the small music blogger – all asked to pay the same fee.

I’ve put together an FAQ of sorts culled from my questions and Shane’s questions to IMRO. IMRO responses have been rewritten as I haven’t been given explicit permission to reprint the IMRO rep’s answers.

Q: If tracks are provided to bloggers with permission and are cleared for promo from bands, labels are these covered by this or are these outside the licence?
According to IMRO, if an artist, composer or publisher has registered with IMRO (or PRS in the UK / ASCAP in the US), then the MCPSI-IMRO (LOEL) licence must be obtained. Furthermore, if a composer, artist or publisher has done this, then they do not have the right to give full permission to allow their own track to be downloaded on a site. What I can gather, is that if a label is represented by PPI (Phonographic Performance Ireland) then an additional licence is required for use of the sound recordings. See the member list here. I’m not 100% sure if an artist can waive their rights in any circumstance above.

If an artist is not affilated with IMRO or any equivalent, they can waive their rights on it.

Q: Are external embeds such as Youtube, Soundcloud and the likes affected by this?
Youtube is a licensed service and therefore covered by a licence. Other external embeds will be covered under the licence as long as you can account for them.

Q: Is it because is hosted in Ireland or does it matter if a server is registered here or not?
IMRO: It doesn’t matter. If the site is made available in Ireland then a licence is required.

Q: If IMRO are contacting Irish music blogs/sites about obtaining a licence will then they be contacting the other international blogs and sites like Pitchfork, Stereogum to clear a licence here?
Any site which makes copyrighted music available is obliged to get a licence and therefore will be approached regarding this copyright issue.

Q: If I pay a fee for the licence, do IMRO pay the artists that are featured specifically? Do IMRO track online downloads and streams for this?
IMRO members (or PRS/ASCAP etc) receives royalties for the exploitation of their works. International artists are covered by reciprocal agreements. IMRO are asking , as part of a licence that you submit a list of artists and tracks, via a spreadsheet at the end of the licence term. This seems reasonable as long as the bands I submit, get the money and not other artists so this process will have to be explained and licence holders will have to be sure that artists get what they deserve for being featured if no waiver is possible.

Q: If my site or blog makes zero profit, does that make a difference?
This licence is designed to cater for smaller operators. If your site does not make a profit, you are not exempt from this licence. The IMRO rep pointed out “there are many licensed sites who are not making a profit either.”

Is there a licence available that covers more than Ireland, by another organisation – Is there a Europe or worldwide equivalent of this?
There is no European or worldwide licence. Each terroritory is licensed separately.

As these collection societies have co-operation agreements, I presume then, that this will stop ASCAP and PRS asking me for to pay another licence in their territory?

Q: If I move my song hosting to another service which is covered by a worldwide licence, then I won’t have to pay this particular licence is that correct?
IMRO are concerned with websites that host the music themselves. If the music is hosted elsewhere then that website will have to obtain a licence. If the music you blog is made available through a link elsewhere (ie. deeplinking) then a licence is not required. Any music streamed, podcasted or downloaded from your own site, needs to be licenced.

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158 Responses to “This music blogger IMRO licence thing..”

  1. idiotkid

    The only way I see around this is if bands/musicians contact IMRO and explain to them how blogging has done more to promote music and increase sales over the past ten years than any other method of promotion.

    I don’t think that bloggers can win this fight, because I don’t think it is our (as an ex-music blogger) fight. It is a conflict between creators of music and their representative body. If enough musicians threatened to quit IMRO then they’d soon change their tune. Not sure that’ll happen though as IMRO do a lot of good work on their behalf.

    They’ve made a shocking error of judgement here though.

  2. bobby

    “(artists) do not have the right to give full permission to allow their own track to be downloaded on a site”

    That’s just outrageous. IMRO, you do not own music. Stop your legal mumbidy-jumbidy and think logically. This isn’t you looking out for musicians’ rights, because musicians want blogs to exist and they want their music on them. They do NOT want you to go around trying to bankrupt the only people who really dig deep to tout good new stuff. So don’t speak for everybody when you’re just one thing. If you enforce this silliness, you will lose out, musicians will lose out, and listeners will lose out. You can continue to exist without a €150 cheque from people who are doing you (and us all) a favour. And as a musician, I can continue to exist without an annual cheque for 4 cent as a result of this new brainwave.

  3. Cian

    Can a system be implemented where the artist/label hosts the music and the blog imbeds it. That way each label controls the license.

    I find it strange that labels want their music out there for free on blogs, yet the organisation that they control is now asking for a license fee.

  4. Ian

    It seems like a disaster waiting to happen if it gets pushed further. I’m very interested in what the artists themselves think of it, surely none would value the pittance they might get at the end of the year over the exposure they would get from being featured either here or somewhere like Pitchfork.

    What happens if a blog refuses to pay a license? Who’s responsibility is it to deal with a possible prosecution? Who exactly would be pressing the charges, the bands or IMRO? Surely if none of the bands that have been featured on a particular site wish to press charges then IMRO don’t have a leg to stand on.

    You also make a very good point about ASCAP and PRS. What happens if they follow suit? Does every region’s publishing rights group ask for a separate (and unregulated) fee?

    How does it work for a record label? If a label hosts music from bands on that label on their own site do they have to pay for it? Presuming of course that the label doesn’t hold the rights to the song in the first place, as is the case with many small labels.

    All in all it seems like this hasn’t really been thought through. There has clearly been no dialogue with artists, no consideration for the non-monetary value of sites such as this one and The Torture Garden, no accounting for the non-profitability of the vast majority of such sites and no vision as to the future international implications of something like this being inacted. Its a mess and there will be a considerable backlash.

    • Greg McAteer

      If you pay here, you are paying for the music that PRS or ASCA or whoever licence as IMRO (in theory) pay part of what they collect on to those organisations and they (in theory) pay IMRO for the use of IMRO members’ music in the UK or US or wherever – all these organisations have reciprocal agreements.

      The real issue though is whether to pay at all. There is a concept of ‘fair dealing’ or ;’fair usage’ in US copyright legislation which allows for excerpts from copyright works – literature and visual art as well as music – to be reproduced for the purposes of review or comment. Here there is nothing enshrined in law but there has been a notion that excerpts up to thirty seconds long can be used without the need to seek a licence.

      I have no problem with musicians getting compensated for their work and if sites are moving towards an ad-supported model or ‘radio by stealth’ then I would be all for IMRO/MCPS licencing them but the bulk of Irish blogs provide the first exposure that bands get before they are picked up by the established media.

      I know too that bands have had songs licenced for very lucrative adverts because they were spotted on the blogs. If the blogs go the only losers will be the emerging musicians.

  5. Noel Ballantyne

    “If IMRO are contacting Irish music blogs/sites about obtaining a licence will then they be contacting the other international blogs and sites like Pitchfork, Stereogum to clear a licence here?
    Any site which makes copyrighted music available is obliged to get a licence and therefore will be approached regarding this copyright issue.”

    Does this mean that you are required to have a licence in every country in which you blog is available?

    • Nialler9

      Technically yes, this is what they are saying. But that seems like a logistical nightmare for all involved. It seems it would be easier to do one terroritory and have the co-operation of others. Though this specific licence only covers Ireland so who knows what’s going to happen..

  6. Nay

    The only “Online Exploitation” I see here is IMRO squeezing bloggers for money that would be better preserved in its current use: going to gigs, buying albums, merch and in Nialler’s case, paying server fees. To suggest that musicians do not have the right to license their work independently is absurd and throws IMRO in a totalitarian light – just whose interests are they representing here?

    I haven’t received a notice but if I get one, I will quite simply tell them to fuck off. I don’t host MP3s because I simply can’t afford to take my site into its own hosting and domain. Instead I use what money I have to support Irish music in the most transparent, direct way possible – by paying straight into the artists’ hands themselves.

  7. Abban

    How about the community band together and pay for a license for a domain that the bloggers can share and that hosts and streams the music?

    Then the bloggers can just stream the tracks from this site to their blogs and only the host site would be liable. The cost of license fees could be spread about the community using a paypal donate button or something.

    I’d be willing to help set that up.

    • Nialler9

      This seems like an idea which would work. A consortium of music bloggers using the same service covered by the licence. I’m definitely interested in exploring this option. Is Soundcloud covered?

      • Abban

        If Soundcloud pay a license fee a la Youtube I guess it could be covered. I’m not so sure though as their terms of use are pretty specific towards them owning what was uploaded.

    • Dave

      If I’m reading this correctly, you’re saying Niall could host all mp3s on and other bloggers could just embed the stream on their blogs?

      The way it was explained to me (again by ASCAP in the US, so it’s not necessarily the same here) was that embedding an mp3 from an outside source is the same as hosting it yourself, unless it’s from a provider like Youtube or Lala that has a very broad-ranging agreement to do so. A basic broadcast license wouldn’t be covered.

  8. fiachra

    Wow, I have to say it seems like a fairly short sighted response from IMRO…. an organisation I’ve always felt worked more in the interests of your Paul Brady, Jimmy McCarthy or Mick Hanley professional song writer types (bar the tokenism of the IMRO showcase stuff)

    I suspect the answer lies in bands not registering with IMRO, and below a certain level I suspect it’s no loss wether you do or don’t, or as suggested above having bands or labels host the actual “music”

    Depressing stuff, but like you said, this is something they’ve obviously only woke up too, I couldn’t believe for a minute that IMRO are losing any serious revenue from Blogs…

  9. macrogrizzly

    for a while i was running (well still do but gave up) where we’d have unsigned bands etc playing on a few of our home made shows. IMRO rang me, asked me to buy a license since some of these bands would be imro registered, and when I asked if it was alright to play my own music – since I am also imro registered – I was told that I couldnt. Even if I wanted to do a full 24/7 radio stream playing only my own material, I would still need a license. Thats how stupid that is.

    Maybe bands and artists should have a slightly different name and identity online than the one they register to IMRO with … that way one wouldnt affect the other

  10. Leigh O'Gorman

    Hi Niall,
    The main grey area I see is many artists that sign to a label are afforded a small percentage of recordings that freely made available for promotional usage.
    The digital factor regarding promotion has yet to be introduced into any contracts as the music industry are still buried in the time of print media with regards to promo, but this may be where this clause reaches a grey area.

    As for independent artists not signed to a label but signed onto IMRO, I have no idea where they stand as I believe the contract with IMRO is a blanket one. The obvious difference being previous forms of promo took either a printed or broadcast stance – both otherwise paid for.

  11. Nialler9

    There are three bands of the licence fee with different fees per type so in the smallest range:

    Limited Download/On Demand Streaming Service
    €150 +VAT
    < 45,000 streams per annum

    Pure Webcasting Service
    Continuous, programmed webcasts. Users cannot interact, e.g. pause, fast forward, skip tracks or influence output by rating tracks. €150 +VAT < 165,000 streams per annum

    Premium and Interactive Webcasting Service
    Users can interact e.g. skip tracks, pause, fast forward etc, but not select specific tracks on-demand.
    €150 +VAT < 115,000 streams per annum

    Permanent Download Service
    Users can download tracks on a permanent basis.
    €150 +VAT < 2,500 downloads per annum

    Music Podcasting Service
    €150 + VAT <68,000 downloaded works per annum

    full info:

    April 28th, 2010 Reply
  12. Gregor

    This seems like a very outdated mindset on IMRO’s part. Like you said the music blogosphere has grown over the years. If tracks are provided for free then that is what they are. If the band/label clears a song to be posted or streamed then the ‘payment’ is exposure. If a song is posted without explicit permission then a royalty payment seems reasonable. Like a radio play. The demand for €7000 a year seems hugely expensive too. I would like to know the basis for this amount. Btw, I’m currently not registered with IMRO and this would certainly make me think longer on it.

    • Nialler9

      It’s not a demand for €7,000 – that refers to sites which generate revenue of less than that amount covered by the licence.

      More likely the fee is 150 a year, 300 if you count podcasts like my site.

      • Gregor

        Sorry. I totally misread the revenue part. That makes much more sense.

        Having said that, I am baffled at the fact(?) that if an artist registers with IMRO they can’t allow their track be downloaded for free? How can this be right? Why would any musician in their right mind register with IMRO if they can’t then distribute their music as they see fit? This has to be a mistake by IMRO.

  13. peter

    Thanks for explaining everything here! Total minefield that one big pain in the arse! Frankly I’d be embarassed if IMRO prepresented my interests!

  14. macrogrizzly

    if youtube is already covered by a licence then maybe bands will just have to put up videos with their tunes and have them linked from youtube

  15. fiachra

    Thanks Niall, it’s hard to see how they’ll police it… counting individual plays and downloads.. for ever blog in the world? All seems a bit ill thought out. Like the legal-speak was set in stone before anyone bothered to think about the practicalities… Though looking at the brain trust on the IMRO directors page it’s hard to be surprised… I wonder what sort of revenue an Eleanor McEvoy or a Charlie McGettigan feel the exsistence of blogs is costing them…

      • Cov

        The thing is though, they wont police it. They will pick the major blogs and the most respected ones, and make an example out of them in the hope that everyone follows suit.

        What might stick a burr in their bollocks is if the bloggers could somehow demand that IMRO police every single music blog equally and fairly. For instance, if blogger A gets pursued by IMRO, but blogger B doesnt, can blogger A claim prejudicial harrassment?

        IF they were forced to “show their work” in their “investigations”, it would cost them an absolute fortune.

  16. Shapey Fiend

    IMRO are wasting their time. The only difference will be blogs deep link to any music from now on. Let the bands upload the mp3′s to SoundCloud and you can embed it from there. They’re not going to get money out of bloggers either way.

  17. Dave

    There’s a shocking lack of transparency with regards to licenses in general. The IMRO and PPI are essentially competing organisations and neither will make the effort to inform you that you actually need two licenses because both want first dibs on your money. It’s even worse in the US, where BMI and ASCAP both represent different artists, and therefore two licenses are required to ensure you don’t step out of line and play the wrong track.

    However, I think there are a couple of misconceptions in the blog, which I think are probably be caused in part by the IMRO’s own confusion as to its exact role. Clearly, new media is still a legal grey area and organisations such as the IMRO are still trying to figure out where they fit in.

    - You only ever need to be registered in one country. IMRO collects on behalf of all ASCAP’s artists in Ireland, and ASCAP theoretically returns the favour for those registered with IMRO (although in practice they probably don’t bother). Pitchfork offers a worldwide service and reports all of its broadcast statistics to ASCAP and the BMI, so there is no conflict with any organisation in other countries.

    - In my dealings with ASCAP, I have been directly told that you can offer an artist’s music for free provided the copyright owners has given you explicit permission. If the IMRO says otherwise, it is either the result of a unique legal quirk in Ireland or the organisation’s own ignorance. If the IMRO is spreading this information, it is doing its members a great disservice and artists should get in touch with the organisation to register their dissatisfaction.

      • Cov

        “In my dealings with ASCAP, I have been directly told that you can offer an artist’s music for free provided the copyright owners has given you explicit permission. If the IMRO says otherwise, it is either the result of a unique legal quirk in Ireland or the organisation’s own ignorance.”


    • Greg McAteer

      IMRO and PPI aren’t in competition, IMRO administers the rights in the song, PPI administers the right in the recording. It’s confusing if the band own both but if you think of it in terms of a cover version the royalty for the song goes to whoever wrote it originally and the royalty for the band’s recording of it goes to them (or their label).

      ASCAP are right in saying that you can do whatever you want with the copyright owner’s permission. The wrinkle here is that when you join IMRO you assign them the performing right in your songs, making IMRO the copyright owner in law so it’s their permission that needs to be sought.

      There does need to be an opt out for promotional licencing (record companies are allowed claim a number of royalty free promotional copies, in the digital age there need to be some equivalent) and for genuine review.


      • Dave

        I didn’t mean in direct competition – I mean they both have a vested interest in getting to your money first.

    • Bernie Goldbach

      From what Adam Curry, the podfather, is always saying, artists can license tracks to Music Alley (podsafe music network) and that parks IMRO at the door.

  18. Jamila fdance

    I got asked ages ago to get a license for my blog. Ignored the email (lolzzz) and haven’t heard anything. Actually implementing this is ridiculously difficult.

  19. Dani

    I think this is an absolute joke. I got into blogging (which I do sparsely) purely out of the love of music and most bloggers I know fell into it the same way.
    I have been sent MP3′s to stream on my site or to download legally from artists and labels who have the right to this music in the first place.
    So why does that mean IMRO have rights over a label when it comes to permissions like streaming or downloading? Surely that cannot be right or allowed. I find incredulous to think that any label would sit back and refuse to use a popular blog such as this as a forms of promotion if they chose not to buy a license.

  20. Aoife B

    This whole situation is so confusing and it just makes IMRO look like a totalitarian organisation acting in no-one’s interests. Clearly bands want and actively seek blogs to stream their tracks – and no self-respecting music blogger would deny a musician or band the copyright to their songs or any royalties due from them. However, this has all been approached completely arse-ways and with little respect for the needs or wants of either the musicians or the bloggers.
    As a blogger who blogs for free and makes absolutely no money off her blog, like 99% of Irish bloggers, there is no way I could pay €150 a year to play music on my blog. It’s just ridiculous. Especially when I have no 100% guarantee that the actual bands I play will get that money – or how much they’ll get. It’s all very cloak and dagger and sending an email to bloggers telling them they have to pay this money is disrespectful at best.
    The internet is still relatively new and the world of music copyright and the internet is going to undergo many changes before it is all ‘sorted out’; but this is no way to approach it.
    I’m really disappointed this has happened and urge members of IMRO to contact IMRO directly to express their feelings about this.

    This is really discouraging to bloggers – especially the bigger blogs who people really depend on for new music. Shame on IMRO for approaching it in such a way.

  21. Rizo

    This is a joke. Blogging (especially legit blogs like this one that offer a taste of music and an opinion on it rather than entire albums etc) is a great promotional tool and it’s obvious that people who write regularly about music on their blog do it first and foremost because they love music. I’ve never seen an album for download on this blog but I have certainly shelled out a few quid after reading some of Niall’s heads-up about certain bands/artist. This nonsense of IMRO representing our best interests is a huge, steaming pile of shit. I don’t remember anyone ever asking me if I wanted IMRO to represent me, my band or my interests. If enough people in Ireland tell them to blow it out their arse they will eventually disapear. Kind of like that clock in the liffey.

  22. Shock

    It looks like they’ve got it completely wrong as usual. I wouldn’t mind the fee so much if members actually got paid. A family is in a band which have sold very well & never got a penny from Imro.

    Surely a more sensible approach would be to block the big album download sites in Ireland. for example (which actually seems to have shut down in the last few days) But perhaps striking deals to block these URLS, similar to Eircom’s stance on The Pirate Bay would be far more sensible.

  23. darragh

    As someone quite clearly in the hobby category I was baffled by the email I received. I don’t, and could not, turn a penny off my own blog (asleep on the compost heap). The few times I’ve covered Irish bands its been through the hosting of MP3s I was sent by the bands’ own PR people. And my inbox, like any other Irish blogger’s I’m sure, fills with about 20-30 requests to host MP3s (mostly made by Irish bands) a day. What a laughably ironic mess. Am I to pay IRMO a few hundred quid a year for the ‘privilege’ of providing bands with free publicity. I f*cking think not and am currently putting an email together to say much the same to IRMO.

  24. Damien D Fox

    It may seem small fry but having read your article I have emailed imro to protest this damaging and foolish money grabbing ploy.

    As a member of a small local band I greatly appreciate any promotion bloggers supply and have asked to forgo any royalties they would garner from this legislation,

    I hope others will do the same.

    Damien D

  25. Morgan

    It is just astounding! I don’t think anyone that has a blog expects to make money out of it, now you’d be expected to pay to have one? I really couldn’t see anyone doing that.

  26. Cormac-out-of-Stoat

    I’m paying a LOEL licence for my kids music online shop for 30-sec preview clips. EUR150 a year is manageable, but if your GROSS income (i.e. your turnover rather than your profit) exceeds the threshold then you’ve to pay something like 5% of your GROSS – which is a very significant cut of your profits for a few 30 second clips. I had to also pay ASCAP, PRS etc I may as well throw my hat at the whole thing

    Y’know it probably wouldn’t be all that difficult to get together a few hundred IMRO members (like myself) to complain about this and try and change it …

    • Dave

      They actually send out cheques that small? I would have thought there would be like a 50 euro minimum or something. No wonder they’re hard up for cash – they’re sending out thousands of cheques every week!

  27. Scoffey148

    Nialler I think it would be a really good idea if you and some other Irish bloggers put an online petition together and sent it out to Irish bands so they can speak out for themselves, I’m sure they would support bloggers. The idea of charging non-profit websites for providing a bloody service is absurd. It’s time to show imro who really keeps the ball rolling in Irish music.

  28. Mark Kavanagh

    I think IMRO would be better served distributing the cash it already collects to those Irish writers who are entitled to it. IMRO takes money from every nightclub in the country but it doesn’t give the money to the people who wrote the music. For example I play 90% Irish compositions in my DJ sets (mostly written by DJs other than me) yet NONE of those IRISH WRITERS receives the cash collected. Why? Because IMRO carves up the nightclub cash based on a sample Irish singles chart top 30 and none of the music I play (or any dance DJs play) ever makes the Irish pop top 30. So this means thirty largely non-Irish pop songwriters get all of the cash that my fellow Irish DJ songwriters are entitled to receive. This issue is one that many IMRO members like me want to see the organisation concentrate its activities on rather than putting the resources into the hounding of websites like Nialler9 which actually keep the industry alive and indirectly help keep IMRO board members in a job.

  29. aoife mc

    Although I believe IMRO are foolish to test the water by blindly legislating all Irish music blogs, regardless of their hobby/commercial status, it’s a reminder to us that this is perhaps the beginning of official bodies catching up with the internet and beginning to try to sort out the grey areas.

    However, I also think it’s clear that the bands – who IMRO work for – have not been consulted on this. If I was a member of IMRO, I would be pissed off and would let it be known.

    It’s my opinion that IMRO know they had to make a leap into legislating Irish music blogs, but I feel they’ve made the jump without properly thinking through where they’re going to land.

    If it came to it, I would support Abban’s idea (comment no 10) of a community-sponsored ‘pot’ of licensed music to be shared throughout the Irish blogosphere.

    I shall be looking on with interest as to how this is going to play out.

    PS Please don’t take our nialler9 podcasts away IMRO!

  30. Liam

    I can see both sides of this argument. I think that blogs such as Nialler9 benefit bands more with promotion than they would ever make off of royalties. On the other hand radio and TV stations have to pay imro for royalties so I don’t see why blogs should be exempt from this. However as everybody knows some blogs don’t make any money so how are they supposed to pay the fee? Maybe if IMRO charged the bloggers who make money a percentage of what they earn annually from ad revenue. This way blogs aren’t charged a fee they can’t afford.

  31. Ben Kritikos

    It’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out. I know of other musicians who’ve had run-ins with IMRO over similar legal discrepencies, ie. the artist not having instance-by-instance rights to waive fees.

    Honestly, it seems likely to me that there’s been some sort of misunderstanding. It’s hard to imagine that IMRO would be issuing this kind of “summons” in the form of a licence fee to Irish bloggers (and other blog available in Ireland) without having thought through how they intend to enforce it.

    Perhaps they are that thick, though. If so, I really wouldn’t worry much. You could very well ignore them and they’d probably fail to organise a proper response.

  32. chris

    it’s a tough one, its good to see IMRO being so diligent in collecting this money, and in reality bands are going to need to register with them sooner or later.

    it should be proportional to the hits the blog receives, but at a minimum rate, something like 5 euro per month, less even. i have to agree in some respects with the license fee. Abban’s got a great idea there but i doubt IMRO will go back on their decision, because it probably cost a fortune to pay lawyers to draw up this license agreement. what a load of cock, they probably sat in a boardroom for months, and then eventually some dick comes up with a terrible idea like this. I was even gonna start a blog myself in the same vein, now there’s no chance. the industry needs bloggers like this, independent young bands/artists don’t want this roadblock to their publicity.

    keep it up nialler…

  33. Barry

    It sounds more like what you would expected to hear about China not a so-called western democracy such as Ireland.

    Can’t see ‘all’ music blogs paying so they can be available in Ireland, a tiny market in a global sense, so where does that leave the ordinary Irish music lover?

    They probally just think bloggers are an easy target to get their dwindling revenues up.

    Cheers Niall

  34. vvv

    I don’t really see where the big problem is. If the mp3s a blogger is blogging about are free promo type mp3s, as suggested, then they’ll most likely be available on the band’s / label’s own site.

    This seems to be fairly common already. If it isn’t absolutely standard practice, a band / label shouldn’t take too much persuading to host something that they’re already making freely available, if they’re advised of the context.

    So provide a link to there – deeplinking, if that’s what we’re supposed to call it in NewSpeak – as has been suggested. No problem. Double benefit – the band / label will be able to see the stats relating to all the free downloads, how many people, where they’re being linked from. All incredibly useful. Triple benefit – you won’t take a bandwidth hit if you post something popular.

      • vvv

        Surely there would be an exemption in those circumstances, in the same way that a band in the physical world who are self-releasing can submit ‘no claim’ mechanical copyright certificates, meaning that no fee is payable. Otherwise, I’ll conceed it could be a little silly.

        • Cov

          Shlep a blank video track on top of the file, slap it up on youtube and link away. Hey presto, fuck you IMRO.

  35. gar

    I think it’s funny when I read all these people complaining that they only get less than a euro a year from IMRO for radio play etc. It’s not their fault that you don’t get sufficient airplay to earn enough for a bag of chips.
    And even if bands do threaten to leave IMRO in protest, it won’t matter. they collect for artists all over the world due to the reciprocal agreements. Irish Music Rights Organisation means the Irish ‘version’ of the music rights organisation, like PRS are the British one. It doesn’t mean that they only represent Irish bands. Of course the majority of the royalties that they collect goes overseas. There are more royalties due to overseas artists because the radio plays more music by overseas artists than they do local ones. IMRO payments reflect airplay. Airplay is the problem there. We haven’t earned more than a fiver in the last 2 years because we haven’t released anything in about 3…

  36. Eilish

    The industry definitely needs bloggers. From a music marketing perspective this is a big step backwards as well as an affront to a vital part of the music landscape. It’s clear the guys in IMRO who planned this license are disconnected from smaller acts who are very grateful to bloggers for publicising their music. It’s another example of the head guys not seeing the forest for the trees. How can they believe punishing some of the most influential people in music in a small country makes any sense?

    I’m definitely going to write to IMRO to express my opinion as someone involved in music marketing. We rely on good relationships with bloggers to help us promote the bands we work with. And we’ll definitely be talking to our artists about it too.


  37. junior85

    Chipping my name in against this, will be emailing IMRO and will be part of any petition forthcoming. Crazy situation, totally unwanted.

  38. Graeme

    What if your blogging bands that aren’t covered by any rights agreements? If there’s a single band that are covered by an agreement If the IRMO ever find my blog I’m screwed as I usually post whole OOP releases and they’ll assume they’re onto a gold mine of rights payments..

  39. Graeme

    My last comment got messed up slightly, missing this part: If there’s a single band posted that are covered by an agreement does this require a licence? Surely that means that actual band sites will have to get a licence?

    • Leigh O'Gorman

      Yes – if you’re in a band with an IMRO agreement, you would technically need to pay to host your own material on your own site. Technically… but rarely ever enforced.

  40. Dan

    Scary stuff. Thankfully I filled that IMRO form, which we had to complete to play a gig, with shit when my band had to a while back…

  41. Dave

    this is total BS, its the same thing that happened to internet radio. Greed, Greed, Greed. What happened to just loving and sharing good music?

  42. Peter

    This all seems a bit silly to me. From what i understand, IMRO want money off the new york times cos i listened to the new national album on their website? have you contacted the websitesyou mentioned i.e. pitchfork, stereogum etc? I presume they will ignore this and continue to host music for the rest of the world.

  43. Mike

    Fuckin tossbags. rarely get the steam off their piss anyways. mainly exist in order to squeeze cash out of small limited companies and such operations in order to line the pockets of establishment acts like U2, and, of course, their own pockets in the process. fight this shit

    • Greg McAteer

      U2 actually left IMRO years ago (they’re PRS members) after IMRO refused to self-licence their own gigs.

      • Mike

        woops – my bad, pwned on that example. lets just take snooze patrol, westlife or the rest of the dire bland mush fed to the public for consumption that forms the backbone of their income.
        anyways, thats beside the point; the whole thing stinks. they are effectively trying to override the artists authority on copyright without consultation. This coming from an organization that doesn’t really do much for the majority of their members anyways.
        their greed will either set them back (givent he right fallout(, or spell disaster for, lets face it, the only genuinely viable and creative outlet for independent and innovative artists.

  44. Ian

    In fairness, IRMA and IMRO are a joke. But especially IRMA. But let’s not forget IMRO. Although, personally I love having a gawk at IRMA’s “member” list, always good for a laugh. Just goes to show what people can get away with when nobody opposed them. Not this time, IMRO!

  45. Cov


    Just wow.

    SO let me get this straight, let say I am registered with IMRO. I record an album. I give you, Nially9iepants, an mp3 off the album and say “I’m giving this away for free to anyone who wants it.”

    You and other blogheads put my free mp3 online.

    IMRO contact you with their hand out.

    IMRO takes your money, and gives it back to me?

    I say “Eh… I wanted to give that away for free.”

    The only possible reason I can see for this strange license fandango is that someone, somewhere, wants to kill the bloggers. The major labels are losing their hold on some parts of the industry because people now have a medium in which they can discover DECENT music that EXCITES them. Usually, these musicians and bands are on independent labels, if they are signed at all.

    A desperate attempt to re-direct listeners back to the fold?

  46. Enda

    This is ludicrous. I’ve spent hundreds of euro on CDs on the back of recommendations from websites like this that I otherwise would have spent on pints in Whelan’s. (Latest purchase: thanks for bringing Holy Roman Army to my attention, Niall. Keep up the good work!)

    Are IMRO’s members honestly so stupid to think that, if push came to shove, that Nialler’s de facto promotional work is worth less to them than the e150 licence fee? Can they really think he doesn’t generate an additional e3 per week in sales?

    Stupid, stupid policy.

  47. Phelo

    We are literally on the verge of completing the IMRO registration and this makes me take a step back. As a journalist by day this just seems a move designed to kill off the music blog and as musician by night it just seems farcical. I’ve spoken to members of two prominent Irish acts about this now and all agree it’s nonsense. Bloggers are not killing creativity, protectionist measures with no sense of progression are. I’ve posted my own opinions on our myspace –

  48. colly

    Under this new foray into the digital music industry has IMRO changed its criteria for bands wishing to sign up to their service?

    I remember the old conditions were a bit silly (included get radio airplay, and a letter from the producer of said show to prove that you were aired/ play your work 21 times in a public space [i.e. a gig I presume] etc.) but now that they recognise Irish blogs as their own true outlet for music promotion, there should be a stipulation associated with getting your music featured etc.

    I’m against the wording of that IMRO FAQ/statement, but the license in general, is a fair idea. Where though, is the other end of the chain; has the bands/artists side changed? The license fee that blogs pay, is it being paid to recognise that bands on Nialler9, and other irish blogs, are credible artists?

    What if a band isn’t signed to IMRO? What happens if a band, not signed to IMRO, gets a feature write up on NIaller9 with a few streams down by the end, can they then join IMRO? These blogs are probably read more than a lot of radio shows get listens.

  49. Cormac-out-of-Stoat

    Niall, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just get a full online licence from IMRO? AFAIK it’s a percentage of your income, so if your income is zero or close to it then it should cost you almost nothing

  50. John

    It can’t be coincidence that this emerges a week after the IRMO/Eircom 3 strikes ruling. I fear that ruling was the green light IMRO were waiting for to start persuing online revenue sources more aggressively.

  51. Shane

    If IMRO are representing the interests of members and musicians, then why doesn’t the license agreement mention how much they’ll be paid? As far as I’m aware, members get paid for each time their song gets played on the radio right?

    So, if Nialler9 puts up an mp3 and it gets streamed say 6000 times, will the artist then get paid 6000 X 5 cent per play (for example).

    To me it doesn’t sound like they intend to do that. It just sounds like they want a bit of extra money from the bloggers and then the thousands and thousands of plays that a song receives online will get lost among the accounts.

    If they are planning to pay royalties to the artists like this then just run Irish week everyweek and they’ll soon realise it was a very bad idea! :-)

    I could be wrong about the way IMRO pay royalties for radio play, etc. If so, just ignore me.

  52. White Rabbit NI

    Just saw the article in The Guardian there Niall and I support you and other music bloggers 100%. Removing places for bands to promote their material online can only harm the local music industry surely. If I happen to come across an mp3 on your blog or any other music blog, I download it legally. This is all ridiculous

  53. Tommie

    I support IMRO100% in this.

    For far too long bloggers have behaved as if coptright law didn’t exist. I only wish we had similar agencies for other art forms.

  54. Jonathan

    Surely an avenue that you’ve explored Niall but a suggestion none the less – A case by case I think is out of the question for IMRO but is there anything you could draw up (disclaimer style) that budding bands could fill out giving you permission to post certain tracks. For example, a young band looking for a plug could send in an ep accompanied by a letter giving the right to post the track in such a public domain. With younger bands, posting a track of theirs is essentially a contra-deal.

    …I may have completely missed the point here.

  55. Tommie

    I support IMRO 100% on this.

    For far too long Bloggers have operated as if copyright and other laws didn’t exist.

    I only wish there were similar organisations for other artists.

    • Nialler9

      “For far too long Bloggers have operated as if copyright and other laws didn’t exist.”

      Eh no. We get permission and bands ask us to post. Sure, some blogs post unauthorised stuff but we’re not talking about that here.

    • Mike

      yeah bloody bloggers riding roughshod over artists rights, giving them free exposure and record sales; have to put an end to their morally reprehensible behaviour.
      jesus dude, get a grip

  56. Rob C

    I previously posted this comment on On The Record but thought I’d interject here too.

    I’m a musician and a member of IMRO and I’m obviously not happy with them pursuing bloggers for money for tracks that I provide as promotional freebies, but any response from musicians and songwriters will have to take into account that this issue is not about blogs specifically but about whether or not artist can waive collection rights for a single song, both legally and logistically.

    I quick question for bloggers: Are those of you who host tracks without explicit permission from the copyright holder happy to pay the fee?

    For me the most obvious short term solution, as suggested above, is for bands to host their own promotional mp3s, which as far as I’ve grasped it takes bloggers out of the firing line (and reduces their server fees!). Hopefully it will also test IMRO’s implication that artists don’t have the right to host their own tracks without paying for a license.

  57. Markgdub

    Hi Niall,

    You have my full support on this. However, I have noticed the last Q & A posted above:

    IMRO are concerned with websites that host the music themselves. If the music is hosted elsewhere then that website will have to obtain a licence. If the music you blog is made available through a link elsewhere (ie. deeplinking) then a licence is not required. Any music streamed, podcasted or downloaded from your own site, needs to be licenced.

    Surely the easiest thing to do to avoid charges is use videos from industry approved sources only, such as YouTube,, MySpace and LastFM?


  58. Ian

    My idea:
    Get some band on board, and choose a song, whether new, old or a b-side. Choose a date, and get as many blogs as you can to put it up for download on their respective blogs on that day. A protest, if you will :P

  59. Brian Greene

    Back in 1995 i was hosting the majority of Irish music web sites (irish singer songwriters) – I also built the first website. :)

    I was charged £5 per 30 second sample in 1995 (the first web host to be charged this fee in Ireland, and the last fee I paid.)

    The problem is/was these were ARTIST OWN websites using ARTIST OWN performances for PROMOTION. I was never billed again.

    My oldest client (since 1995) sits on the IMRO board. I must have a word to see what has changed.

    The net effect of the above was that less music appeared online. Is this a good thing? in Dec 1995 we put the first entire CD of an Irish Band online. Shot in the dark by Engine Alley. The sky didn’t fall and the event was reported in Billboard magazine and every Harry Moore shop was demo’ing the LP on the internet, Real Audio 1 / progressive networks, before MP3′s were in use.

    in 2004 my years of web streaming radio on demand got called podcasting. IMRO/MCPS had merged at this stage. Their licencing in this fledgling area had the same effect, less music online. The Irish collection industry held up the launch of iTunes in Ireland during this period.

    Moving to 2007 learned a lot about the ins & outs of these licences when they set up their zero margin music sales service. Again i feel IMRO was missing the point, legal versus pirate, bring them in from the cold *nurture the networks that grow the new digital channel* or roll over for Steve Jobs.

    I think the soundings from Feargal Sharkey at are much more positive. The industry must give breathing space to the change from record company dominance to sustainable artist controlled recordings & performance where house gigs are the norm and musicians and making a living while big record companies are not making a killing (on the backs of their slate). This shift is happening and when it is complete (if ever) the artist organisations must still exist and take their % or the script kiddies will reduce their role to a audit module in the transport layer of artist to audience music delivery.

    Make friends on the way up, as you may be meeting them on the way back down.

    I would wonder where was the consultation on this? did I miss it?

  60. Nialler9

    I’d just like to thank everyone for their input, comments and opinion on all of this so far.

    Please remember if you are an IMRO member and you have a problem with this , there is a petition available. It is asking that this licence be put on hold until a proper consultation process is held with a good representative cross section of IMRO members in attendance or a poll / referendum where members are presented ALL the facts including the damage this could have on independent artists who rely on the support and (free) advertising of Blogs.

  61. Tickets There

    Very hard to stomach this. I hope the recession hasn’t clouded the minds of the IMRO decision makers so much they’re willing to compromise their clients interests.

    This is greed, pure and simple and the IMRO seriously need to re-evaluate their purpose as an organization. I hope bands, record labels and fans object to this in their masses. Nialler9, The Torture Garden and all Irish music blogs get our full support.

  62. iamnotdaniel

    We came upon this problem in the UK when we were signing up with PRS – buried deep in the fine print. I do think IMRO and all rights organisations are being unrealistic, and hope they’re soon going to see the light with regards to American-style fair-use clauses.

    But until then, we (I Am Not Lefthanded) decided that the best interim fix would be to continue to offer our music for free to websites and blogs and podcasts – because it’s completely in our interest! And if anyone does get charged any money by rights organisations on our behalf, we will refund you 100% of the money. I mean, it should be coming back to us directly, right IMRO?

    So if anyone wants to host/review/remix/parody any of our songs and recordings on their blog/podcast/player piano, we’ll happily give you a euro towards the costs of the rights. I don’t think any bands would mind doing this to be honest.

    It surely isn’t the best way to get IMRO to act decently, but it might address the issue until they get their heads screwed on right maybe?

  63. jimbo

    Not surprising, but I’m confused as to whether IMRO is talking about performance or mechanical royalties – or both. I think most of us would be more than shocked to discover how much of what is collected goes to the performer, versus the publisher/writer/label.

    It’s always interesting to see how a watchdog group that is hired to protect the rights and interests of the client respond when the client’s interests clash with their own – especially when both parties have a financial stake in the game. I suspect the first real revolt from the member artists will come when they are assessed the same licence fee for hosting & streaming their own music, which would be the next logical step absent any specific member exclusions.

  64. Garreth McDaid

    Been there, done that, worn the T-Shirt

    The problem is that artists are blindly signing over *exclusive* rights to their material to IMRO, which allows IMRO to do whatever the fuck they want. I can show you letters we’ve received from Mathew Ormsby Prentice (IMRO’s legal eagles) threatening us.

    We had a 6 month legal battle with IMRO, which we eventually won by asking the Office for Patents to withdraw their licence to collect royalties, We still had to sign up with them, but at a greatly reduced fee.

    The power to change this lies totally with the artists. IMRO doesn’t have any statutory authority; it is nothing without the support of artists, and it is very careful to keep artists in the dark about what they get up to behind the scenes.

    Situation in the UK is way different. MCP-PRS do not take exclusive rights, and allow artists to enter it direct agreements with websites, blogs etc

    But this only happened after UK artists told MCP-PRS that this was what they wanted.

    Get in touch if you want more detail.


  65. Garreth McDaid

    These are the rights that every IMRO member signs over to IMRO for *exclusive* use:

    In the membership agreement, IMRO merely refers to ‘performing rights’ which implies performance of the music.

    They define ‘performing rights’ in their articles of association, which they do not circulate to members, as the rights that exist under S40 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000. (linked to above)

    This amounts to pretty much every right available to artists.

    Artists need to wake up to this and stop signing their lives away to IMRO.

    [email protected]

  66. Garreth McDaid


    Under the current membership agreement, IMRO are fully entitled to charge artists for featuring their own music on their own websites.

    They don’t obviously push this, but it highlights how ridiculous it is for IMRO to be securing *exclusive* rights to material.

    [email protected]

  67. Greedy You

    I suppose you let the Iron Man 2 ad run for free also, you nice guy, or do you take all the money and not pay musicians for their content that you use to make advertisers come?

    • Aidan Cuffe

      Nice of you to drop in and spout nonsense on a topic you clearly haven’t even bothered to read article or comments which explain why its not greed.

      I’d say more but if you can’t be bothered to read before commenting then your not worth the effort

      • Greedy You

        It is hard to read with the pulsating Iron Man 2 advertisement distraction. But I did read your words:

        1. The claim that 10-years of Blogs have proven significant in breaking new music is hyperbole greater than the music business itself, where radio, television, and movies continue to be the driving force of the past ten years up to today. I work with a band with 3 million page views on MySpace and no gigs or music sales from it. But one radio campaign changed that overnight.

        2. Promo music given for free to radio, television, and movies does indeed generate paid royalties when played or used as content to attract eyeballs or ears to sell advertising. Blogs are not some kind of holier than thou exception.

        3. You stated you would be glad to pay royalties. Wouldn’t it be better if you actually did share a percentage of your income from corporate sponsors such as Paramount with everyone who gets played on your blog? My answer is yes, it would.

        4. I even read the small print where you say to your users: “please support the artist and label by purchasing the release.” Thank you! Case closed.

        • joe seph

          blogs are qualitatively different to tv, radio etc.

          if i make available a free track on a blog, should i so choose or should someone ask, people have to read through the blog and then decide if they like what theyre reading and have a listen to the track. they will not hear the music unless personally motivated to check it out.

          tv and radio exposes listeners to music without them necessarily opting to listen, if you know what i mean. people will be exposed to the music in shops, restaurants etc and in living rooms without one way or another selecting what they’re listening to. getting decent airplay on radio or tv invariably involves paying p.r. douchebags to try and promote your stuff. and all music p.r. will state, as you pay them up front before they’ve done a thing for you, that they can’t actually guarantee you anything in terms of playlisting success, they will merely try and see what happens.

          thats why the bloggers appeal to underground, unsigned musicians. they provide us with free exposure to an interested listenership. they are not a holier than thou exception. the problem for me is imro’s strike against my right as a member to give away a track should i choose to do so. that is what the legislation amounts to.

  68. joe seph

    howdy niall

    im an imro member and i sent them a letter of support for your problem, highlighting where i see them going wrong on what they’re trying to do. i’ve told em i’m forwarding you a copy of the letter, but can’t do so cos the email link at the foot of your page is dead and can’t see your email address anywhere. can you put up or email me your email address so i can forward it to you? ta.

  69. joe seph

    a glaringly obvious contradiction is occurring right now within imro’s thinking without them realising it..

    the cast of cheers are giving away their album for free are they not? online? through bandcamp? and they’ve been selected to play the imro showcase final!! why, this doesn’t add up at all.. surely imro want to stamp out such silly attitudes to recorded music as being allowed to give it away for free if you so choose. according to the underlined part of the comments from imro at the start of this blog section, imro would not necessarily be ok with their right to do this. this is what’s to be implied. a case in point of how misguided their thinking about the whole issue is..

      • joe seph

        if that’s what they’ve done then fair feckin’ play to the boys. we can all talk the talk but that’s walking the walk.. me bringing them up as an example above was merely to highlight imro’s contradictions and was in no way a stab at them by the way.

  70. Danielle Lavigne

    Wow. I am shocked to read this. It makes me extremely glad that I decided not to register with IMRO. As an artist, I’d rather people tell their friends or audience about me than to fear doing so because it’ll cost them money. If those people want to leave me a tip for the music, that’s wonderful, but I would never want someone to feel pressured to pay.

    A lot of my friends could not afford to pay such a fee, and I think it’s shameful that we continuously make art something only the wealthy can have.

    Anyway, those are my initial thoughts…

    • joe seph

      while we all may have gripes about imro’s take on this issue, id still say sign up with em danielle, they’ll pull you in money you’re entitled to. and you can’t change the way they operate without being part of it all. work from within if you can..

      • Danielle Lavigne

        I think I’d feel too yucky supporting the old copyright system to have them collect royalties for me. I know they do a lot of good work in terms of benefits, but they seem incapable of seeing that things have changed in the world around them. They probably mean well, though.

  71. gar

    a lot of misconceptions here about a company that is not made up of greedy fatcats, but does a whole lot of good for it’s members. hopefully they’ll come to some agreeable negotiation with all bloggers involved but i think we’re overestimating how ‘ignorant’ they are of the scene. and i hope cast of cheers haven’t pulled out, cos i’d really like to see them tomorrow and they’re not succeeding in changing anything by not playing. actually losing royalties i guess for live gigs. :)

    • Aidan Cuffe

      They 100% have pulled out, even hotpress have decided to cover it after days ignoring the situation.

      I personally dont think they are greedy fat cats, i do think however their licencing plans are ancient and below in the 90′s.

      What IMRO do next week with Nialler,Darragh and Shane will hopefully be go into the meeting with an open mind and listen to what they have to say. The idea that registering with IMRO means you dont have the right to publish your own music on your own site should be years out of date and shelved in an archive.

      If from this IMRO evolves as an organisation, then it will have been worth the hassle, but if in this meeting they sit there and refuse to listen or negotiate then Irish music will remain in the dark ages

      • gar

        ha, typical hotpress. unfortunately both sides have valid arguments. hope something positive happens. from the 1 single meeting i had in there, they all seemed dead nice. i’ve met some of the bloggers too and so are they so can’t imagine an agreement not happening. shall still head to academy though. nice little venue. good luck all involved.

      • joe seph

        agreed re theyre not greedy fat cats.. it’s important not to overreact because it’s a singular issue. they have earned me a lot of money over the past few years, it has actually trickled down the food chain so any talk of fascists (which i noted over on the guardian article blog about this..) is a bit much. this is just about one particularly bad call on their part, but i’m sure they have big business in their ears whingeing about potential lost revenue and that kind of shite.. overreaction on our part is not going to fix anything, a rational approach is needed.

        isolate the problem within their proposed legislation and get them to put a clause in that allows musicians waive royalty rights in advance to any mp3 featured on a blog site. that aint too much to deal with. email between blogger and musician.. ‘you mind if i feature your music??’ ‘yeah nice one’.. that would count as express written permission. its also then easy for someone who has a problem with something being posted without his/her permission to contact imro and object. everybody wins.. it fixes everything..

        a deeper understanding of how things work today is i think whats missing on their part. they’ll listen to us i reckon, theyre pretty reasonable people. also, it has to be said that every imro member is given notification about every agm and egm. so in the spirit of a democratic organisation it’s up to everybody and anybody involved to take part, and to notify them of any misgivings in how they operate. there is a platform provided on which to be heard, if we bother to use it. if yknow what i mean..

  72. shauna lyons

    here’s the thing.
    The writer of this blog gets people to view it by providing songs in streamed or mp3 form.
    The writer of this blog is (presumably) getting paid money by the people who are advertising on it.
    Therefore the writer of this blog is liable to pay the people who’s work he’s exploiting for the use.

    The rates etc are all a side issue, but until blogs decide that they will never take revenue in any different form there’s no difference between them and Phantom FM who have a huge bill to pay IMRO.

    • Aidan Cuffe

      All featured media on Nialler9 is there at the request of the bands involved. He’s not exploiting anyone. He’s just writing about music he is listening to at the request of the bands involved.

      IMRO dont allow bands to give away tracks to blogs if the song is registered with them. Thats why they want the licence fee from the sites.

      Many a band has gone on to sell out gigs or at least more tickets than they might have based on promotion they seek from blogs. Check that against the money they receive from IMRO and if this goes ahead, i can see bands leaving IMRO.

      • joe seph

        nialler9 is the extreme.. he’s top of the blog pile in ireland. most of the rest of music blogs in ireland arent making money from advertising. so if he’s taxed out of the water, the next best blog becomes the most popular and ends up at a point where they get to generate advertising and then imro hits them, and then.. the point is about making music blogging accessible to those who want to do it. if theres a tax on starting a music blog, which is essentially what the legislation boils down to, then it dies out slowly. 300 euro to start up a functioning blog? fuck off! it contributes way more to generating money for the industry than you care to think.

        the internet if used correctly provides all the p.r. tools you need. stifling a powerful and effective p.r. tool that’s free to musicians as a resource for publicising their music, for notifying a paying public of live and local gigs, and for sustaining an interest in independent and up-and-coming music (as opposed to what you’re literally fed by the majors).. it’s all ridiculous.

        look at nialler9′s latest posts. this has all happened without any warning so he couldn’t have prepared for any debate about irish underground stuff. in the latest posts, he features low sea, grand pocket orchestra and gives an exhaustive list of everything happening around dublin in his gig guide. are you telling me that ain’t good for irish music?? this has all got me well pissed off, some of the rubbish people are talking.. im turning green..

  73. Bill

    Thought just struck me. Am I going to get an email from IMRO, telling me that I have to pay them a fee for putting my own music on bandcamp?

    Another question, if a blog embeds a bandcamp player, is that exempt?

    Someone above was making the point that us musicians want to have our cake and eat it. This is true. The shekels are hard to come by after all. It’s a tough world out there and so on and so forth and the cash comes in handy for recording, buying equipment, paying for petrol, paying the rent, putting food in the belly etc. etc…

    Obviously, if there’s a few pennies in this for us, we’re not going to say no. Even if it’s just a few pennies (all you people sneering 9c above, shame on you!) them pennies eventually add up to pounds, y’know. Didn’t yer grannies ever teach ye that one?

    Sending someone an mp3, asking them to put it on their blog and expecting to be paid for the streams/downloads when they make bugger all/no cash/not enough cash to cover the costs of running the blog out of it themselves isn’t fair though. I wouldn’t be comfortable with that, and I don’t think any fair-minded person would, so there should be some accomodation of that.

    It seems to me that if this is enforceable, and enforced, then we could see many blogs disappearing. In the long run, doing that isn’t going to help me or other musicians or, by extension, IMRO.

    Will be interesting to see what comes out of Niallers meeting on Wednesday. Best of luck with that Niall.

  74. Michael Roe

    Yo Shauna,

    The riduculous comparison of radio to blogs aside, here is an example of why this “blanket” approach is beyond stupid.

    I run an independent Irish label.

    We are expected to pay this LOEL as well.

    Unlike in most other businesses where licence fees are collected (like radios etc.) there is no mix of songs played, streamed or hosted, all the songs are releases by our associated artists and bands (all friends, some of the songs are even my own bands)

    We would pay this fee to IMRO but 100% of the money would not come back to our bands (and even if it did, would it not just make sense for us to carve up the €300 a year ourselves, cutting out us sending in money and the exact same money just coming back to us again)

    My site is just one example of how a blanket licence is the most stupid approach ever and how an “opt-out” clause is essential for this particular licence.

  75. gar

    do ppl not understnd that by waiving their rights for blogs, the license can’t stop? they collect for all artists registered with a society internationally. it wud take all them to waive their rights as imro is supposed to collect for all of them, not just the irish ones… its a ridiculous suggestion to solving the prob.

    • joe seph

      the point is that as an imro member, imro are trying to control an aspect of how i might choose to promote an ep, album, gig whatever. they’re telling me what i can and can’t do with my music. under the new deal, effectively im not allowed host a website giving away my own music unless i pay them for a license to do so. that’s what it amounts to, that’s how far it extends. people are objecting to how primitive the thinking behind this is.

  76. Matt Mooney


    Thanks for highlighting this issue and I wish you the best of luck. I am a music manager and I encourage my artists not to join IMRO. I represent them and any royalties they are due I hunt down. It’s a little bit harder but it’s worth cutting through all the red tape in IMRO, and given the new music environment the royalties bands are getting are minute compared to the exposure they can get on blogs. I started my issue with IMRO after my first EP when I was told I had to pay a royalty to them for a band I represent, who gave their EP out for free and weren’t even members of IMRO. Irish bloggers have provided all of my acts with alot of support this year and I support the free use of any of their material them using any content used to promote an act!


    Matt Mooney

  77. Finbar Hoban

    In Protest To the Proposed Bloggers Fee by Imro Mia Sparrow Have Being added to the bill at The Cast Of Cheers and Enemies Show at Bar Ritz in Castlebar Tonight Sunday 2nd May in Castlebar County Mayo to Show there Solidarity to Bloggers and independent Artists and Bands Through out the Whole of Ireland. Thanks for Reading, Finbar Hoban Presents.

  78. Chris

    Sorry this is a bit late in the day coming but…

    Speaking as someone in a smaller band who only considered putting together a record because of the initial (and, thankfully, ongoing) support of the likes of Nialler9, Torture Garden and other blogs run as genuine labours-of-love, I think this proposed charge is a terrible move. There’s no way- and I’d imagine we’re hardly the only band in this position- our music would have gotten on the radio, thereby earning a fairly small but welcome cash injection from IMRO every few months, without the support of blogs. Nor would people other than our friends know about or come to our shows, which we also get an IMRO fee.

    I have always thought there was an unspoken agreement that if I sent our tracks on to a blogger that I was consenting for it to be given away for free unless I stated something to the contrary. That stands to reason surely. I have no recollection of ticking a box on my IMRO application to say I wanted payment from blogs and there was certainly no polling of members about this question. Honestly, when we now seemed to have entered an era where Irish bands have chosen to give away entire albums they’ve spent time and money making for free, this seems like a hugely regressive step. Best of luck to you guys in your meeting next week with IMRO, hopefully good sense will prevail.

  79. David Henry

    any idea what the legal requirement is on blogspot? Who is liable, I presume that it’s actually Blogspot and not it’s members but I’m not 100% on this?

    • Aidan Cuffe

      Pretty sure the liability falls on blogspot but blogspot dont entertain such things so they will remove the blog erasing all content as it goes.

      thus if you are there and IMRO contact them, you could wake up with no blog

  80. Nialler9

    If any IMRO members are interested in submitting a few sentences to me on why the IMRO licence is a bad idea, please email me promo[at]

    I am hoping to present a collection of such opinions from members in the meeting on Thursday.

  81. Electron


    i’ve contacted IMRO about this personally and voiced my concerns. i think your best bet is to get musicians to contact IMRO directly as well as copying a complaint to you. Its up to the musicians who a) get coverage from blogs and b) who Imro work on behalf of to sort this out

  82. Sean

    Since these guys raised the fees on retailers playing music in their stores, I and thousands of more people working in the retail industry have been subject to the most godawful music ever created – a mixed CD of royalty-free music from ‘soundalikes’. Featuring songs where one phrase (“I know”) is repeated over FORTY TIMES IN ONE CHORUS, to lyrics such as “hey diddle-diddle I was dying for a piddle, but there was nowhere were I could go”. It could be argued that it iss abuse. It’d be almost funny if it wasn’t so bad.

    But whatever about that, this is ridiculous. If you charge someone for something that the owner gave away for free then who is the money actually going to?!?

    Personally Niall, I hope you tear them a new arsehole. The one flapping below their nose is pretty useless and has caused nothing but unnecessary hassle to those promoting IMRO artists.

  83. Barrytron

    What a load of ridiculous nonsense.

    We live by the mantra “you can’t download a t-shirt”. This crazy new fee will change nothing but sure there’s probably no need to even say that.

    We are not affiliated with IMRO by the way, download and stream to your hearts content.

  84. Brian Daly

    @ Mick 87 Mick as stated in the OTR blog I was posting in a personal capacity. I challenge you to find what is “silly” and “anti blogger” in any posting I have made on the OTR blog. Or perhaps, to be blunt, you’d like to substitute “silly” with “I don’t agree with you” or “chosing to ignore the issues”. I was merely pointing out a few issues that members of the blogging community have either overlooked or chosen to ignore. However, as you chose to mention Phantom – the station both supports IMRO members through airplay and this airplay is included in the royalty calculation This is the norm where any copyrighted material is used.

    To me the IMRO approach is perfectly fair and a good. I suppose the real question to be asked, is what took them so long? In their tariff they have already accomodated the hobby bloggers – €150 equates to 41c a day for a “hobby” of writing about music and using copyrighted material. So is cost an issue? I don’t think so. Plus if I read the licence correctly you can earn up to 7,000 per annum thus advertising can be taken to defray costs – broadband, hosting etc. It’s a fair deal – but probably not fair if you are not used to paying it! Perhaps IMRO should look it at installment plans for paying this fee – monthly or quarterly etc – rather than a lump sum?

    The “promo material so therefore no royalty” arguement just doesn’t hold water as the precedent is already set. A blog is no different to a radio station. The content is used to attract an audience. There are plenty of non-commercial or not for profit radio stations from community up to national that pay royalties. Up to now there has been no system in place to collect royalties from blogs so this is the real reason why bloggers were never asked for royalties.

    Personally, I find the stance of some IMRO artists is very odd on this matter When you sign up with IMRO you have decided that you are in the business of music and want to make money from the work that you produce and rightly so. Therefore it should not come as a surprise that IMRO are levying blogs or other online media for use of copyright material. They are representing the interests of the content creators. Surely musicians have read their their agreements? Why as Chris says above that he likes getting radio and performance royalties but is happy to waive it for online publications such as blogs? When the CD arrives into a radio station did you expect to get a royalty when it was played? Where’s the logic there?!?

    There is nothing anti-blogger about my opinions on this matter but clearly the blogging community has been ignoring some major issues that have now come to a head. It would be my view, is that those serious about blogging in either a professional or hobby capacity will pay their dues – supporting the artists that they champion – and get on with what they do.

    • Aidan Cuffe

      Brian i think your view is far too simplistic, your equating perfectly a radio station to a blog. You couldnt be further from the truth. A radio station plays music with the intent to profit. A blog streams the music with the intent to benefit the artist and not to profit. that is the big difference.

      And on top of that we have permission from said artists to publish said content. so we are not leaking an album, using it without permission in fact under copyright law fair dealing rule applies

      Fair dealing
      The work may also be used for criticism or review or for reporting current events, with the same proviso, and provided further that the use of the work is accompanied by an acknowledgement identifying the author and the title of the work
      Thats straight from the Copyright Assocation of Ireland

      Hobby Bloggers wont pay their dues, they owe nobody nothing, they offer a free service for no wage and the work only benefits the band and nobody else. They will continue but will embed from Soundcloud or Youtube or Bandcamp and the blogs will continue and IMRO will get no money and will have accumulated infinite bad PR. How do you really see this ending any other way brian? The Hobby or Unpaid Blogger isnt suddently going to decide he will donate 150 euro to an organisation that may only give his money to artists already well earning enough royalties. There is no incentive in blogging if thats the case. 41c a day to blog, are you actually serious, Pay to do others a favour. We are not a business, have never been, its a love of the music and not a tollable mechanism. Nialler9 has already shifted all hosted music offsite, others are now following suit and this will all be absolute folly on IMRO’s part for a short sighted jump down the throats of those who do good work for the small band.

    • Dave

      Brian, I

      Tthe major difference is that a radio station is a business and a limited company can absorb the cost of a license.

      A private person is personally liable for any costs incurred by their blog and cannot be absolutely reliant on advertising revenue, which anybody (me and you, for instance) who has been involved in the business side of the media over the past 3 years knows is not very predictable.

      I’m sorry, you just can’t just put personal blogs on the same level as radio stations, because legally, and in almost every other sense, there is no comparison.

  85. Robin

    Just 2 points:

    1. Am I missing something but if the IMRO won’t see sense would it not be possible for bloggers to enable downloading and streaming of tracks given to them with consent from the artist by the use of the variety of services that exist out there already such as Soundcloud / Bandcamp etc ? If PR companies / bands have an account with one of these services they could upload the song they are giving away for free, the blogger host it, and then (like You Tube) the streaming service be responsible for the cost which they could afford through the revenue they generate.

    2. In reference to Brians comments above, the question I would like to ask is “Why should a ‘hobby’ blogger who earns no income from his/ her blog have to pay for his her ‘hobby’. The blogger puts a lot of unpaid work into the blog that acts as a great service for music fans. I think the word ‘hobby blogger’ is not a correct term. It should simply be ‘unpaid’ blogger’, as such bloggers are doing it as a labour of love.

  86. Peter Fitzpatrick

    I’m a songwriter and musician.
    I’m a member of IMRO.
    I don’t get radio airplay, I don’t get featured in glossy magazines, television is not interested in me.

    The only place I’m going to get exposure for my music is online.

    Right now I don’t see how IMRO is doing anything here to help me. I can see how the wonderful Copyright House building (have you ever visited?) is being funded, I can see how the big players continue to be big players.

    I don’t see IMRO doing the right thing and when I see Keith at an upcoming workshop I shall tell him so.

  87. Brian Daly

    @ Aidan I don’t believe that I am being simplistic as it’s a perfectly valid comparison. Like online publication radio ranges from small nt for profit community stations right up to your corporate groups owning multiple stations, formats etc. All with the exception of those based in the USA pay royalties on some scale. The only difference between a blog and a radio station is it’s a different medium to get content to an audience.

    The Internet is a great leveller. Ordinary people can now establish and maintain online publications, start an online radio station and so on forth. A few years ago when you talked about the music press it would include a few well known publications. Now that list will include will include various online publications including this one. It is also a leveller in the sense that rules, regulations and fees can also come rolling down from the other end of the spectrum.

    I do not believe that any blogger has explicit permission to use copyrighted work. I think that permission is presumed, Does anybody have a written waiver? I think it would be fair to say that some artists would be unsure if royalties would be paid on recordings they send into radio stations. Most PR companies will distribute promo copies of recordings on the basis that they are being supplied free of charge and that they are acting as a conduit and all the royalty costs are your problem. Artists who do their own PR are replicating what professional PR companies use.

    “Hobby Bloggers wont pay their dues, they owe nobody nothing, they offer a free service for no wage and the work only benefits the band and nobody else”. i think that it is a pretty selfish point of view and I simply will not accept this as a rationale. It’s rubbish. Your blog is your creative output for anybody to read. It’s for your benefit and your audience who are interested in what you are writing about. It’s not for the benefit of the band, it’s for yours! Any benefit for the band is a by-the-way. It’s pretty disengenious of any blogger that they are doing it for the bands. Plus don’t forget for some, unpaid blogging is a career move. I would suggest that it would be inwise to use the term “unpaid blogging” as it suggests that the intention is reward.

    Also you did not quote the full extract from in regard to Fair Dealing:
    “Fair dealing

    A work may be used by anyone for the purposes of research or private study without the permission of the author, provided the use is conducted in a way which does not prejudice the rights of the copyright owner. The work may also be used for criticism or review or for reporting current events, with the same proviso, and provided further that the use of the work is accompanied by an acknowledgement identifying the author and the title of the work.

    This bundle of exceptions is known as “fair dealing”. Although the legislation does not state the fact, it is unlikely that the making of multiple copies of a work will ever qualify as fair dealing.”

    @Robin Why should you have to pay for a hobby? Most people do and it’s a lot more expensive than 41 cents a day. If I’m a landscape painter, I don’t get the paint for free. If I want to learn to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix I buy a guitar tabs book. If I play football I buy the kit and rent the pitct. etc. etc.

    the IMRO fee is not the end of the world. It’s relatively inexpensive for hobby those who do it for that and a fact of life for those who run commercial blogs. Pay the fee that will benefit the artists that you are supporting and life goes on as normal.

    • Aidan Cuffe

      Blogging is a hobby where the tools can be obtained for free, if you can get boots for free, a football off a mate and play on the green, you will. are you telling me that you will somehow feel guilty and pay your mate for the use of his football. Just because we create content does not mean we SHOULD be paying for the privelege. thats the entire beauty of the internet.

      As for not for profit community radio. If they are playing local bands and promoting them then i dont see why they should pay a licence, if they are playing bands who have made a fanbase purely to garner a listening audience then they should be made to pay a licence. That is if they are 100% not for profit. If they sell advertising on their radio and turn a yearly profit. Then a licence would be neccessary. If their main content is promoting local acts, the bands will benefit more if 1 person buys their CD than they will for any royalty for spins on that station.

      Can you tell me how writing a blog about bands you like benefits you. How are 2uibestow or Swear im not paul or torture garden or Asleep on the compost heap personally benefitting from writing about the bands they like? Its a labour of love and nothing more. Its not selfish, the bands ask to be featured and the blogger takes time out of his own life, as no cost to the band, no cost to the reader, to listen to, review and publish content on their blog. How is that selfish, its the single most unselfish act in itself. I run my site as a passion, though i dont host music really so im mostly exempt from IMRO’s stare i still pretty irked that if i am asked to do something for a band and asked to put the song up to save them bandwidth hosting issues that i could have to pay a licence. i didnt ask to put the music up. i would be doing it for the band because they asked. Again how is that Selfish? how is that self serving. Thats like saying “Oh im sorry Myspace, but your benefiting from allowing bands to have their band profiles on your site, thats awful selfish of you”

      I would ask you not to call me disingenuous, i run my site at a loss, i do it as a passion and have never once even covered hosting costs using Google Ads. Yeah im absolutely selfish

      As for getting a written waiver for every song featured on the blogs, sure could be done, An Post would love you for it too, people might start writing their blogs on pen and paper and send it out to a mailing list with a mix tape in each lovingly enclosed letter. Or we could get with the modern times and a band could choose to waive collection rights to certain blogs and blogs not on their waived list should be pursued or is that too modern.

      If and when i set out to make a profit from my site, seek advertising and actively host bands music and benefit financially from such an action i will seek a licence and gladly pay it. Until that day i will continue to not be taxed because im creative.

      I do not believe that any blogger has explicit permission to use copyrighted work. I think that permission is presumed, Does anybody have a written waiver? I think it would be fair to say that some artists would be unsure if royalties would be paid on recordings they send into radio stations. Most PR companies will distribute promo copies of recordings on the basis that they are being supplied free of charge and that they are acting as a conduit and all the royalty costs are your problem. Artists who do their own PR are replicating what professional PR companies use.

  88. Brian Daly

    Aidan, the problem I have is how you define what you are doing. In the above you make it sound like you are running an unpaid for publicity service for bands and not a hobby. I would define a hobby as an activity or interest that you enjoy doing in your spare time e.g. writing and/or writing about music or bands you enjoy. Therefore i would expect it to benefit you personally. BTW the Internet was not created for you to steal or use other peoples creative work for free. Also just for your own info, in all mediums royalties are paid irrespective of whether you make a profit or not.

    • Aidan Cuffe

      Excuse you i dont steal peoples creative works, never have never will and im done with this conversation if this is the level of accusation your going to level at bloggers.

      All works on the blogs are there with the permission of the bands in question.

      And finally, my hobby just happens to be an unpaid publicity service for bands. Thats just how it worked out. Sometimes things dont just fit a definition of something. Life isnt just as simple as X and O

  89. Robin

    @Brian Daly – Brian yes I agree that as you say ” Most people do and it’s a lot more expensive than 41 cents a day. If I’m a landscape painter, I don’t get the paint for free. If I want to learn to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix I buy a guitar tabs book. If I play football I buy the kit and rent the pitct. etc. etc. ”

    But also if someone gives you the materials for painting for free you probably wouldn’t then expect to have to pay for them at a later date. Music bloggers (and I am talking about hobby bloggers / unpaid bloggers rather than commercial bloggers) are given tracks for free, there are sites that are available for use for free and therefore shouldn’t necessarily have to expect to pay for their hobby, just like the painter who is given some painting materials for free.

    Of course hobby bloggers do benefit in terms of the pleasure of creating the blog, just as a painter derives pleasure from painting, but if the tools have been provided for free they shouldn’t then be taxed at a later date.

    Anyway, it seems that the IMRO are at least listening to the arguments reading todays updated post and are going to look at the possibility of a non-commercial license, which seems a sensible option.

  90. Jeremy Gilbert

    The music blogosphere is often one of the most neglected niches of music
    marketing. The average person spends about 2 to 3 hours just searching
    for information on their favorite blogs. One great way to really tap
    into the power of blogging for music is through actually creating a blog
    of your own. Instead of mass-mailing your press release to thousands of
    disinterested press publications, try actually responding to other
    like-minding bloggers in your posts. It’s easy to find music bloggers of
    all shapes and sizes, whether you’re a country artist or an alternative
    metal act. Use content management systems like WordPress, Blogger, or
    Tumblr to post trackbacks to other bloggers’ relevant articles. In doing
    so, not only will you gain a valuable backlink (which has the potential
    to move your articles up in search engines), but you may also make a
    significant connection in the real world. The music business is all
    about networking, so use blogging to promote your music and establish
    valuable contacts who may already be involved in the industry.
    Interestingly enough, very few major label artists work to maintain a
    relevant and interactive blog. Instead of sitting back and waiting for a
    big break, be proactive and get in touch with the blogging world.

  91. Stevenbrainbis

    Here are the licence details they are asking myself, The Torture Garden and Asleep on a Compost Heap (with more expected) to pay:
    claim back ppi



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