Owners of Australian nightclubs are fuming about having to pay significantly-hiked music license fees.

New rates -- to be introduced at a date still to be decided but expected to be phased in over the next few years -- were approved Tuesday by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). The old rates were introduced June 1, 1987.

In future, clubs will have to pay artists and record labels A$1.05 ($0.91) per person for recorded music -- up from seven cents.

Commercial dance parties face a similar hike from A$0.20 ($0.17) to A$3.07 ($2.64) per person.

The PPCA licenses the broadcast and public performance in Australia of all sound recordings and music videos for its registered record companies and artists.

The organization first proposed the massive hike in licensing fees for public performance back in June 2004.

Response on the new tariffs has been swift and angry.

"This is over a 1,000% jump, and we can see discos and dance nights disappear from suburban and regional areas," says Clubs Australia executive Anthony Ball. "It's become too expensive."

Daniel Hanna, GM of the Australian Hotels Association, estimates that nightclubs will now pay between A$100,000 ($86,000) to A$200,000 ($172,000) extra a year.

"It is a disaster and totally unjustified," he comments, adding that many clubs operate on a tight margin.

But PPCA chief executive Stephen Peach dismisses such warnings. "Nightclubs charge A$10 ($8.60) for admission, A$5 ($4.30) a drink and A$2 ($1.72) to hang up a coat, yet they have a problem paying for the music which attracts their customers."

Peach says that the PPCA will consider collecting the fees on a monthly or quarterly basis rather than annually, to curb the new rates' impact on club and dance operators.

Lindy Morrison, one-time drummer with the Go-Betweens, who represents artists on the PPCA board, says: "It is about valuing the artist. As we get older, this kind of income becomes more and more necessary."