Is Your Gym’s Music Now Second-Rate Cover Versions?

In January, the royalty rate gyms have to pay for playing music will rise from around $1 per class to $15 a class. Many have responded by purchasing cheaper royalty-free music and cover versions, which saves them money but often makes the tunes on offer less appealing.

Picture by colonnade

At first glance, increasing payments should help musicians earn a decent return from their recordings, and that appears to have been the intention of the PPCA when it introduced the new rules and defended them in a court case. However, it won't necessarily have the desired effect. Musician Deborah Conway highlighted the alternative approach in a recent comment on Twitter:

The music in my gym classes has now become generic Brittany/Kylie/Beyonce soundalikes instead of the real thing; the unintended consequences of the PPCA's dramatic royalty increase to gyms (around 1500%). Was it worth it? I can't imagine there'd be too many gyms happy to buy the real thing when the ersatz is perfectly adequate to step to. A classic case of trying to do good but doing harm instead.

If you're exercising on your own, taking along an MP3 player means you can listen to whatever you like (we've offered some hints on building an exercise playlist before). However, if you're taking a class than you're pretty much stuck with whatever is on offer.

Noticed a sudden shift to generic recordings at your gym? Tell us in the comments.


    I've noticed a shift to 90's dance music, really really bad!

    How about the fact that those "generic Brittany/Kylie/Beyonce soundalikes" may be local Aussie musos releasing their material under a Creative Commons licence to get their music heard. Sounds like a good deal to me.

      Hmmm.. you might be onto something. A friend who works in community radio was recently bemoaning how they need to strip out all music for the podcast edition of their show. Now, if it were easy for artists to grant royalty free use of their music for specific uses (where it wouldn't cut into any existing profits)...

      Though CC isn't quite that granular.

    Sister-in-law is a spin cycle instructor, teaches about 8 classes a week. They moved immediately to covers only and instructors can be fired for using the wrong 'version' of the song.

    The main issue is the range of music now available. It's gone from a large selection of songs to about maybe two dozen. Its now a dull and repetitive range and has angered some of the customers.

    End result, angry instructors (new routines), angry customers (boring music), angry artists (even LESS money now). Sounds like a great win for everyone.

    My gym plays music from one of those pay tv music channels; mtv, vtv or something. Its good but damn repetitive. See the same clips, same songs each gym visit.

      Yeah, my gym too. But thats just for general music.
      The business has a subscription and every month they are given a new disc with a bunch of music videos to play. The royalty costs are in the subscription.

      However, it can not be used for classes. Music used for classes is entirely separate.

    It's happened at my work too, it makes me cringe when the singer doesn't do it "just right" and I have to get the original playing in my head.

    I'm a Body Combat, RPM and Body Pump instructor, which all (until recently) used commercial artists. As an Instructor, I have spent thousands of dollars buying commercial music and DVDs from Les Mills (the originators of the programmes) and now they are useless to me. I can't even sell them due to our agreement with the provider. The really cheeky part is our training DVDs still use the original artists (so we hear what we are missing out on!) while our class CDs are the woeful royalty free version. On top of all that, even though we are getting a far inferior product, we still pay $60+ for each DVD/CD pack... and that happens 4 times a year, across 7 or 8 different programmes.

    Do you remember the good old days when gyms where music free? And advertising free?

    Why don't they just play American recordings. The PPCA does not collect royalties on them. Look it up if you don't believe me. This is aquote from the copyright council "Recordings from some countries, such as the United States, may be played in public without the copyright owner's
    permission, as may recordings in which copyright has expired."

      Gah, American music, I'd rather listen to crappy cover versions!

    I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard and song during a gym class and then gone out and bought it. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I think this change to the law might backfire on the artists it's supposed to protect.

    These are the same people that "protected" us from the evils of accessing Pandora... one of the world's most popular music sites.

    Another great win for the ban brigade. And another counter productive move by the greed merchants desperate to protect their pathetic, outdated income models.

    Hi guys, I agree with the point raised in this article, there is a risk of the music quality being reduced but as the exercise industry develops it's new approach it will find there are professional musicians out there who can and do produce great music for fitness. I will be adding up new collections for this very purpose from pro musicians this week at . Leave me a note here or at the site if you have any questions.


    Please do not have a man singing "Pink" lyrics. Otherwise, very happy with Cover music. I have googled some of originals and prefer the covers.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now