Music Licensing for Stage

When to get permission

If you are perform a live theatrical production (play, musical, dance, opera, narration, mime, or other dramatic performance of any kind), and you wish to use music you did not write or a sound recording you did not create, you need a theatrical license (also known as grand rights). Licenses should be secured before the music is used. Because of the complexity of these types of licenses, we suggest making your request many months ahead of your release, and also having a backup plan in case your request is denied. You do not need to license material that you created yourself or songs that you know are in the public domain.

How to get permission

Theatrical licenses (grand rights) are custom-negotiated upfront with the copyright holder, and are somewhat complex. For these types of licenses, check out our Custom Licensing services or contact us. Alternatively, you can attempt to locate the copyright owners yourself and request permission.

For out-of-the-box stage productions, such as high school musicals, view this list of agencies that can help you get permission. For several popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, visit RNH.com.

How the royalties are paid

Expect to pay a fee based on the number of performances, ticket prices, and sales. You pre-pay royalties upfront based on a custom-negotiated fee. When you hire us, we deliver your request to the copyright holder, negotiate the fee, and present it to you. If you accept, we collect the entire fee from you (which includes the royalties), and then send 100% of the royalties on to the copyright holder. If you need to reorder, a new license is negotiated. You have the option to follow all these steps yourself or hire us for assistance through our Custom Licensing services.

Challenges of licensing for stage

Theatrical licenses require custom negotiations with the copyright holder. Custom licensing can be challenging because, by law, the copyright holders maintain total control of their works. This means they can set any fee, take all the time they need, and reject the license outright. For this reason, it is important to temper expectations when licensing for stage. Many factors affect the response, including budget, use, and even the current workload of the copyright holder’s processing department.

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About CopyrightNotary.com

Copyright Notary helps indie artists, corporations, churches, schools, community groups, and individuals get permission to use copyrighted music for all types of uses. Its Cover Song Licensing service makes it easy to get 100% of the permission required to release a new version of any song in 1-2 business days. Through its Custom Licensing services, Copyright Notary offers music rights clearances for any use, with dedicated, personal assistance from an experienced specialist. Committed to accuracy and transparency, Copyright Notary adds value to the music industry through innovation, education, and efficient rights administration.

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