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Songs from musicals - performing rights

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by crunchynut, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Not a dunce! I had to find out a couple of years ago. It's a complicated one as a lot of amateur companies do the 'songs from the shows' type things to fund raise, without paying any rights, under the impression that you can do a % of a show without buying the rights. This isn't the case.
    It all depends on *how* they're being performed. The legal position is that you can sing songs from shows, or even sing and dance songs from shows, without paying rights as long as you are not performing them as though they were in the show. So for eg. you could have the cast sing and dance to a number from Wicked, but if you dressed them all in green and added a nominal 'Elphaba' or 'Glinda' then you would have to pay for rights... (which of course you can't do for Wicked as it's not available for licensing, but you get the gist!!)
    Does that make sense!? Basically, if you want to perform a song from a musical as it would be performed in the actual musical then you have to contact the rights holders for rights. When we did Grease we bought the rights to extra songs (this has changed since, I know) and it was about £15 per song per performance so it wasn't a great deal.
    Hope that helps! It's Friday and I'm a bit rambly! If it doesn't, let me know and I'll try again!
  2. There is no problem. Your school or your local authority will have paid for the rights for your music department to perform songs and music in class and as part of music evenings. The permission to perform is for the whole school not just for the music department; it covers any department who perform songs and music including drama departments. There is nothing to stop your students dancing to them either, Payment for tickets is irrelevent. Extant musicals are exempt from this general license and for these you will need the appropriate permissions.
  3. Which is why several cruise lines have been "done" for doing "Broadway- / West End-style" shows - e.g. Grease in 30 minutes. I believe the Disney Corporation are particulalrly litigious.
  4. Basically you can do up to 3 numbers from any musical without having to purchase the rights.
  5. Define "do".
  6. It's how you choose to do them that's the key. If you're doing them out of context, ie. basically concert style or with fairly generic dance routines, then you can do as many as you want. If you want to do them as they would be performed in the show, e.g. 'Look at Me I'm Sandra Dee' with girls playing the characters from the show (Rizzo, Frenchie, etc.) then you have to have rights for it, even if it's only one song.
  7. Exactly what I needed to know, thank you so much.
    They'll be costumed as the characters and dancing similarly to the original routines so I'll do as you did Crunchynut and buy rights to individual songs - this sounds a lot cheaper and easier than doing a whole musical, what have I been doing all this time?!
  8. And then you only have to do the fun bits! :D Hope you can get it all sorted. Good luck with the show!

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