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Reflections on fitness, wellness, health and more

Record industry tries to impose $100m tax on fitness

Fitness facilities around Australia are facing an unprecedented hike in the fees they pay for music – a huge increase of more than 4,000 per cent in many cases – if the Copyright Tribunal upholds a record industry claim to change the rate of music licence fees. If the record industry gets away with it, a typical fitness club with 1,300 members will be forced to pay $140,000 in annual fees, a massive increase on the $2,654 they currently pay. Many of these fitness centres are small owner-operators and this increase will have a disastrous impact on their businesses and on jobs – all because record industry bosses are looking for easy targets to plug the gap left by declining CD sales.

This is a huge issue which will affect every fitness professional in Australia; every single member of Network; you. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this will only affect group exercise classes. The proposed tax is indiscriminate – it will be imposed on every facility at a flat rate of $4.54 per club member, per month – regardless of whether the member attends classes or not.

Club owners will have to pass these costs on, or close shop if the fees are not viable. It is at times like this that we can take stock and appreciate exactly how everything in our industry is interrelated; group exercise is a great member attraction and retention tool for clubs, and most PTs source their clients from the existing membership of the club they work in. The new tax could change all this, creating a disastrous disappearing act for our industry.

Picture the scenario: The record industry wins its claim and fees increase exorbitantly; club owners’ financial resources disappear or music disappears from their facility; group exercise classes disappear from club timetables, and along with them go the jobs for instructors; members disappear from clubs; personal trainers’ client pools disappear. In an age of increasing obesity levels, this is a potentially devastating outcome for our industry, our members and the fitness of the nation.

It can be all too easy when hearing, or reading, about things like this to think that it will just ‘sort itself out’ and that everything will be fine. A short-sighted attitude like this is as good as arguing in favour of the record industry. The fact is, this is an enormous threat to Australia’s fitness industry. The industry body, Fitness Australia, is fighting the case in the courts, but as an industry we have to show our unity and genuine opposition to this unfairness by registering a protest at www.taxonfitness.org – NOW, and encourage your members, clients and participants to do the same.

Don’t think that you can’t make a difference; complacency will cost jobs, vast sums of money, and heartache for Australia’s thousands of fitness professionals. EVERY voice of support needs to be heard, otherwise it will be too late.

Fitness Australia needs financial contributions to fight this battle. To help, go to www.operationmusic.org.au and make a contribution to help win the case against the Record Companies! You can also download the full media release that Fitness Australia issued last week by clicking here.

We would like to know your thoughts on this very current topic. Do you think the record companies are entitled to more money? Tell us what YOU are doing to fight this fitness industry threat.

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Posted by: Lis, Curves | 11-Mar-2009 02:29 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

We belong to Curves and Curves International, through the owner Gary Heavin has pledged to fight this, not only with our contributions but also his personal money because it is ridiculous - and he has been fighting this sort of stupidity for over 15 years. As you rightly say, they are just looking for easy targets - but they are not going to find one here. With 11,000 sites, Curves is not going to allow this to happen anywhere in the world, but needs everyone else to be equally proactive

Posted by: Ian | 11-Mar-2009 02:35 PM |

For general purposes can’t everyone just use a radio? As for classes can we get some generic music written for us?


Music can be produced by "cover" artists that are not represented by PPCA but it is not nearly as good a quality or inspiring as original artist music. You can visit any of the American music companies that produce cover artist music for Group Fitness to get an idea what it is like - Network.

Posted by: Julie | 11-Mar-2009 02:43 PM |

If this happens the Industry will finish – Fitness Centres around the country will have to close their doors!!

Posted by: Gordon | 11-Mar-2009 04:04 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

I have always taught my kids never to copy music or movies because piracy is straight out theft. I am so disillusioned by these people who have turned out to be the real pirates. Of course I have stopped lecturing to the kids about the subject as my credibility is in tatters.


I got into this industry as a PT because I wanted to help people. I really had a very rude shock that such a greedy organisation could stoop so low as to as to rip off an industry that is trying to help people, many of whom seriously need it.


I wonder if some of the artists they represent really have thought about the damage they are going to do to a lot of people. They are happy to be seen in public helping Bush Fire victims but then hide behind the Evil Empire doing a lot of harm.

Posted by: Anonymous | 11-Mar-2009 04:26 PM |

The funny thing is that many members only visit the Gym once a week, others once a fortnight, and in some cases half a dozen times a year. However the copyright tribunal want to charge our centres the same rate for each member on a month to moth basis. There is absolutely no way I will be paying them 2-3 thousand dollars a week. I would prefer to turn the music off completely or use music not represented by the PPCA. My business and many other small to medium sized businesses would close down within the 1st year. How much money do these idiots think Fitness Centres actually Nett?

Posted by: Teresa | 11-Mar-2009 09:35 PM | 1 out of 5 stars

i work in a small countryside gym , and i pay for the CD's I use , I buy at least 3 to 6 every 2 months . if the charge is passed on to my clients to hear this music I will soon be out of business as my clientele is not like some of the bigger city gyms. as I already pay to buy and listen to these I am outraged to think I will be charged again indirectly, I would be likely to encourage client to use their i Pods with their own downloads on and switch off the CD player, Artists do very well out of their industry and some use their monies not for the better, but for drugs alcohol and other seedy habits while I try to help people with health issues like Cancer Obesity, Depression and Osteoporosis etc.
Where has the helping hand of compassion for our fellow man gone ? Have we turned into a greedy uncaring world if so I don't wish to be associated with it .The PPCA should reconsider and think of the damage they would cause.

Posted by: Ivan | 12-Mar-2009 09:38 AM |

I'm very sorry to hear about the nature of the record industry.


I wonder if you would be interested in passing on the same sentiments about Melbourne City Council driving out Personal Trainers from public parks by imposing a permit without any consultation then not granting any permits to Trainers.


I feel this posses a great risk to our industry and makes a very powerful negative statement about how health and fitness is viewed by Government. I am happy to give your more details if you require as the more people that get behind pushing for change in our decision makers minds the better for our entire community.


Great discussion topic Ivan, and we are actually working on some research on that very issue. We have also started a discussion in our online forums about it. Feel free to contribute your thoughts there! - Network

Posted by: Simon | 12-Mar-2009 09:39 AM |

Wow,


That's a joke. But what will be the effect on PT's? will that mean we have to pay more rent?
If so. sign me up and put me down for whatever you need. i will help in whatever way possible. (With in reason)


Please keep me updated as to the upcoming outcome.



Simon: for a better idea of what could happen here is an excerpt from the above blog: "Picture the scenario: The record industry wins its claim and fees increase exorbitantly; club owners’ financial resources disappear or music disappears from their facility; group exercise classes disappear from club timetables, and along with them go the jobs for instructors; members disappear from clubs; personal trainers’ client pools disappear. In an age of increasing obesity levels, this is a potentially devastating outcome for our industry, our members and the fitness of the nation." Does that help put it in perspective? - Network

Posted by: Debbie | 12-Mar-2009 09:40 AM |

Shouldn't the Government step in for a healthy Australia!!!

Posted by: Sandra | 12-Mar-2009 09:40 AM |

This is obviously ridiculous, completely unreasonable for our organisations that strive to enhance people's lives with the benefits of improved health to be put out of business through the greed of others.

Posted by: Thomas Hoffman | 12-Mar-2009 10:01 AM |

Exactly right: "record industry bosses are looking for easy targets to plug the gap left by declining CD sales"


The record companies are not being imaginative enough!! This is an OPPORTUNITY for them to get FREE marketing! How many times have you heard a track at the gym, in a group fitness class and fell in love with the artist/album and gone to purchase it as soon as your finished your workout? I know I've bought at least 5 cds this way over the last year. Out of the 7 or so cds i bought in the year!!!!


Come on guys, work smarter- not harder! This COULD be a win win for clubs and the music industry. Work on cross promotion, make the music easier to source, keep the fees low, get free marketing....

Posted by: Anonymous | 12-Mar-2009 10:31 AM |

i hope all the smaller operators have done the maths on this before they get too concerned about the impact this will have. No, you will NOT go out of business, you will change to cover artist music. Think about it, the biggest fitness operator has the most to lose by this and will pass on the cost to the punters. You in response will keep fees reasonable and the playing field will almost be level again. Improvise, adapt, overcome & get on with it.

Posted by: Anonymous | 13-Mar-2009 08:34 AM | 1 out of 5 stars

I think this really stinks!

Posted by: Rebecca | 13-Mar-2009 04:56 PM |

With regards to using covers(Posted by: Ian | 11-Mar-2009 02:35 PM |), that would be perfect for our small club, how do you know if it is registered with the PPCA or not? Perhaps there are some solutions using royalty free music and covers. We would be happy to do this, but how would we know that we are using music that does not attract fee's? Also, does this include the use of Free to air TV's and radio? Another question too... if we had a treadmill that a client could plug in an ipod with music videos they bought themselves, and they play it on the treadmill screen, would that stop the club attracting a fee? We could do that instead of running our own plasmas I guess. So many questions, so much fear about what is going to happen. Help????????



Rebecca, one of the other considerations is that if the PPCA case goes through, then it is very like that APRA (another body that represents recording artists) will pass as well. As APRA represents about 99.9% of artists in Australia, that would increase the fees substantially, even for non original artist (covers). Fitness Australia has recently written about the dangers of APRA. Check it out on their website www.fitness.org.au - Network

Posted by: Anonymous | 16-Mar-2009 06:23 PM |

Thank you for your response, i am wondering if anyone is then working on a solution for this problem. It seems everyone is so scared about the outcome of this, and everyone is injecting money to fight it, do we know of anyone working on a solution? I have an awesome idea but lack the funds to get it going. Perhaps i should get it going. Regards, Rebecca.

Posted by: Wendy | 31-Mar-2009 09:48 AM |

Fitness centres already struggle to keep going at the best of times.

They need to keep their membership and class costs down to encourage new members and keep the ones they have. Only a small percentage of the population regularly commit to exercise.


With the world economic crisis, more people will be losing their jobs which means even less people will be able to afford gym memberships. These enormous fee increases would have to be passed on to members making memberships even less affordable.


Governments are concerned about how obesity , poor eating habits and lack of exercise are going to put an enormous strain on the health systems. Fees such as these and the resultant increase in class and membership costs are certainly not going to encourage people to attend fitness classes. It will affect the livelihood of all who work in the fitness industry. It must not happen!

Posted by: Luzette | 05-Sep-2010 02:04 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

Another albeit extremely radical solution would be for everyone (and I mean everyone from large, medium and small businesses to the individual) to stop buying music altogether - then see the artists rqe-act - pipe dream I know but I bet it would work.