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Selling Concerts CD's for Fundraising

Like many community choirs, ours faces the continual challenge of funding.  I’ve noticed while attending other community choir performances, some sell CDs of their concerts as part of their fundraising.  I’ve suggested we do the same, but am concerned about music royalty issues.  Does anyone sell CDs of their concerts and how do you handle the royalties?

Replies (6): Threaded | Chronological
on April 6, 2014 6:19pm
Roger, the mechanical licensing process is very easy and not that expensive. We always handle that for our clients, and I think many of my industry colleagues do as well.
The license is compulsory, as long as the piece has been recorded before, and the rates are set by statute. The simplest way to do it is through Harry Fox Agency's website,, but they tack on processing fees that are fairly ridiculous for quantities under 300 or so. You can always go to each publisher directly, though.
Tom Tropp
Applauded by an audience of 1
on April 7, 2014 6:54am
The mechanical licensing is easy to do, but I would like to comment on Tom's observation.  I thought it would be great that they were finally licensing for small numbers of CDs, but you are right, Tom, that the cost of the smaller amounts is outrageous!  Now there is a "fee" in addition to the government mandated amount per minute.  I called Harry Fox, and there is no way they will lessen or waive the "fee".  If the industry is hoping for more compliance, I don't feel this is the way to do it.  Small not-for-profit groups will not be able to afford trying to use this as a fund-raiser, in my opinion, with the added burden of the "fees".
Actually, it is probably more cost effective to license for the larger amount and avoid the "fee".
on April 7, 2014 9:23am
To expand on a point Tom mentioned, you can bypass HFA and go to the publishers directly. It takes more time, but you avoid minimums and extra fees, and they can't stop you. If you fill out the proper notification and pay the statutory fee, the publisher is legally obliged to issue the license (that's why it's called a compulsory license) within a reasonable time. More info: Publishers like to pretend that they won't issue the license if you don't satisfy other conditions (e.g. minimum orders) but those aren't legally enforceable. Here's a summary from the copyright office, and here's the law itself.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on December 3, 2015 3:06pm
Question... I am embarking on a recording project for my choir and I want to have about 200 CD's made.  If I advertised them as "free for taking - a donation is appreciated" and I suggested a donation of $10 per disc, am I good to go?
We're in a good position where I could just give them away to the singers who will be recorded but I would ultimately like to cover the costs of recording and duplication.
Thank You.
on December 4, 2015 6:27am
Absolutely not, Barbara. It's a common misconception that one can bypass royalties if giving away the CDs, but that is false. Distribution is distribution, whether you are selling, giving them away, or paying people to take them.
Drop me a line at Tom (at) I'm happy to help you out.
on December 4, 2015 8:47am
I'm afraid not. You're allowed one archive copy with no license. Beyond that, it doesn't matter if you're selling them at a set price, asking for a donation, or giving them away for free. If you're producing ANY recordings for distribution you need to obtain a mechanical license for any works not in the public domain if you want to stay on the right side of the law.
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