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Copyright in the United States of America: Mechanical licenses without Harry Fox

Dear Listers,

I had previously posted a message requesting information about obtaining a Mechanical License from Boosey and Hawkes. Most people referred me to Harry Fox Agency, which does grant Mechanical Licenses. I was also able to get the direct email for the person in charge of Mechanical Licenses through Boosey.

I wanted to share that in my experience, if you are doing a school recording, it can be much more economical to contact the publisher directly. In my case, we will probably only sell about 50-75 CDs to parents nowhere near the 500 minimum that Harry Fox forces you to pay for. After paying for recording and for the CDs themselves, we are not left with very much money for royalties. If we had to go through Harry Fox Agency for all of our licenses, we would be paying $52 per song close to $500 in license fees alone. This would make the project impossible for us.

Luckily, most publishers have been very understanding. To date (I have not yet heard from Boosey) 2 publishers have waived the fee and 2 have given it for $20.

I am sharing this because I think many organizations do not record CDs for choir members and parents because they see the mechanical license fees as too costly. It does take more work to contact publishers directly, but in doing so it has made it possible for my choir to make a CD.

Gretchen Liechty Lynch
Music Specialist, K-6
Director, The Oakton Elementary School Chorus
Fairfax County Public Schools, VA