Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Performance rights to Beatles song arrangement

First time poster, please excuse if this topic has been covered fully in the past.
Question: What does a choir have to do to be sure they have the right to perform an authorized arrangement of a Beatles song? Is a blanket ASCAP licenses (or similar) sufficient?
David Avshalomov
Replies (7): Threaded | Chronological
on January 18, 2014 7:27am
Do you need a mechnical license for CDs or DVDs? You've secured performance rights by buying the music. But as a band director, I was assistant director for a group tha needed a release for a Beatles show and the publisher wanted $6000 for 3 songs. 
Tresona is a good resource for sharing your performances with your audience, since they handle all copyright issues for you.
on January 18, 2014 9:10am
Mr. Cox is not correct; buying the music does NOT give you performance permission, which must be negotiated separately. Since 2000 ASCAP has handled the publisher performing rights for most Beatles songs, so your ASCAP license should cover that, but the songwriter royalties (isn't this confusing enough?) are still handled by BMI, so you need a similar license from them. Not sure why Mr. Cox mentioned mechanical licenses, since you didn't ask about those.
on January 18, 2014 9:37am
I have always understood that in the US,purchasing the music does NOT give performance rights, that separate performance rights are required (usually covered by blanket ASCAP or BMI licenses). If I am incorrect, I would greatly appreciate a correction with a link to verify. 
on January 18, 2014 10:12am
Raymond, thanks, just asking right now what to tell choirs that would perform an arrangement which I control that was authorized and made in 1970. It's technically public domain so they don't buy it, they just get it on loan.
I have to check out Trsona again.
on January 19, 2014 8:05am
Wait a minute!  Unless the law changed recently, you have rights to FREE performances - there must be NO admission charge or recordings other than for educational purposes ONLY.  This covers most 'standard' concert performances by school choirs and bands, provided there is no admission and so on.  If you charge admission, you must get a license.  If you give your kids souvenir recordings or sell DVDs to parents, you must get a mechanical license.  The release I mentioned above was for a contest performance where DVDs were sold to parents and directors.
Tresona is an online distribution service a little like itunes.  Rather than make your own CDs or DVDs, you upload your recordings, then they handle the copyright issues and charge for the downloads.  You make a profit on the download after their costs and copyright fees.  Downloads are usually pretty cheap - $1 or so, and you make about half in profits depending on copyright fees.  They can also help with rights for arrangements.
on January 19, 2014 9:27am
Copyright law section 110(4) does have an exception for free performances in which no performers get paid (and there's no admission charge or all proceeds to go charity), but that's a pretty rare event, and I don't see why you're assuming it's the case here. Don't your accompanists get paid? Conductors get paid. Plus, if you looked at Mr. Avshalomov's bio you'll see he doesn't direct a school choir or band.
on January 20, 2014 6:59am
Thanks, Allen, Lee, that confirms what I had understood and it is what I am telling performing groups. 
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.