Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by audleyshedbuilder, Oct 9, 2006.

  1. I hope someone on here can I help me. I'd like to be able to get into arranging pieces for brass band - I've had some experience in arranging hymn tunes for playing at the local church (I have done these under the church's CCLI licence), and I have read the copyright info on here.

    However, I've found it notoriously difficult to get permission to arrange more complicated pieces.

    I apologise if this thread has been done before (if it has can someone point me in the right direction).

    Thanks in advance
  2. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member


    You need to do a whole series of things:

    1. Find out who the copyright holder is.
    2. Ask them grant you copyright permission for your arrangement. You are in a bit of a cleft stick here because technically, you are not supposed to arrange without permission but most copyright holders want to hear/see how good your arrangement is before they'll let you have the copyright.
    3. Accept that fact that some companies/holders will not grant you copyright no matter what you do. (BMG/Ricordi are particularly **** in this respect, in my experience. They'll lead you on for a few months and then suddenly stop all correspondence without any explanation! :mad: )
    4. Be prepared to have to pay. Some holders will charge the Earth, others just a small reasonable fee. There's no logic or system to it so don't expect any sense.
    5. Make sure you establish your right to copy on paper and send yourself (or your solicitor) a copy of your score which you post in a sealed envelope, preferably by recorded delivery and never open.

    Have I missed anythng?
  3. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    you seem to have covered the legalities better than I would have.

    My question is this: is all this permission really neccessary to gain? I've arranged about 50 pieces and never asked for permission because I've not used these pieces for profit. Most of them are non-copyright to be honest, but sometimes I've had to arrange hymn tunes that aren't in the orange book, for a specific marching job with a service in the middle. Or I've arranged some tunes for my youth band just for the players' pleasure (they WILL enjoy it). The practical impression I've gained when enquiring about this is that performing rights MCPS are uninterested in such things.

    However, if you are arranging to sell, publish or use on a CD then its' obviously a different matter. Any piece I've been asked to do by YBS has been checked out by them first for permission.
  4. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    From a strictly legal viewpoint, it doesn't matter whether you gain financial benefit from an arrangement of someone else's work or not. If you use someone's work, you need their permission to do so.

    Ask yourself the question - would you want someone to nick your stuff? If the answer is yes, then you are a bit sad. Generally, the answer will be no, so don't do it to someone else. Whether or not you make a financial profit from it is really irrelevant.

    I don't like the way some companies treat arrangers - especially new/young ones - but two wrongs never did make a right. In the long run it will be their loss. Get permission, pay the fee and no one will ever be able to reproach you. Just ask Derek Broadbent ;)
  5. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Has it? I certainly wouldn't take anyone's word on an issue like this. I would insist on seeing any relevant paperwork that accompanies a 'request to arrange'?

  6. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Well said! Roger.:clap:

    Another thought that occurs to me is that, having been warned in this and other threads, you would have no leg to stand on should anyone like Disney or Music Sales decide to sue you. (That's a general you, not a personal one). In these increasingly litigious times, it's just not worth the risk.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2006
  7. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    There are a couple of us working on an addendum at present for the tMP Copyright Fact sheet that's mainly aimed at music and the (lack of) Fair Use policy and the things like storage and alteration of audio.

    However, some of this is pertinent:

    This obviously covers unauthorised arrangements ;)

    Bottom line is, get written permission before you do it.

    (Source: Rees, Private communication)
  8. oddbod

    oddbod Member

    I have a totally different experience to some of the advice you have received Audleyshedbuilder.

    When I did my first hundred or so arrangements I was totally unknown except in my locality. - but I've not yet been refused permission to arrange any piece, except "Hook" the film theme - never found out why because others from the same stable were granted to me - other than that, it's never cost me a penny to get permission to make a "private" arrangement. The way I've always done it is to write to the copyright holder and explain that I want to make a private arrangement to play with my amateur brass band at local concerts which are fund raising events, and that I will guarantee that no copies are made of the parts and that it will not be broadcast or recorded. (Include those points – they’re very important) This event then becomes so insignificant to the copyright holder, the big companies usually say yes just for good public relations. – So you’re in – then:

    Next - if you do want to broadcast or record it, wait until a couple of months after your original permission - write again and tell the copyright holder that your efforts went well and that a band of BBC broadcasting status wants to record/broadcast the piece (Name the band) – don’t jump through hoops or try to impress – just ask casually if you can have the producer just include the piece on the regular MCPS form for the broadcast/recording or if you need to have a special agreement- again - I've had a "Yes" every time on that one to the MCPS form.

    Next - if you genuinely start getting enquiries from bands about buying it – write and tell the copyright holder – ask for none exclusive rights to publish a band arrangement and offer 25% of the revenue. Most say yes, some want to limit it to a licence to sell, say 100 sets for a fixed fee and a few say no. Then print your music and sell it. – And before you worry about certain quarters saying that self publishing is wrong – forget it- supply and demand will decide that – if it’s rubbish, bands wont buy it – but if they want to buy it – who on the good earth is qualified to tell you that it’s “bad art”? Huh?

    Sometimes a copyright holder has to go back to the composer – it happened to me with Apollo 13 because it was just published and the original James Horner score was up for an Oscar (He won that year – but not with Apollo, with Braveheart) – they had to send him the score and get his “rubber stamp” – He gave it too! – what a smashing bloke! I don’t know if he’d ever seen a brass band score before – bet it caused some curiosity!

    Happy arranging Audleyshedbuilder

  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Oddbodd's most certainly right - it's always worth asking the questions, and in the correct way.

    My major point is to make sure you do ask the questions or you could find yourself in hot water.

    Best of luck ;)
  10. Thanks for all your advice, I hope one day you'll get to play something I've arranged
  11. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    and maybe one day we'll get to play something you have composed...?:clap:

    There are far too few brass band composers, I'd love you to at least have a go at it. You never know, once you have seen how the big boys do it, it might give you the confidence to try your hand.

    At least you only have to ask yourself for permission.:biggrin:
  12. Mr_Euniverse

    Mr_Euniverse Member

    I've always thought that you can arrange what you want. However you can perform it without copyright permission as long as the arranger is performing in the ensemble.
    That is how Grimethorpe could play 1712 Overture at Spennymoor. It was arranged by Sandy Smith. I arranged that piece myself before him and it's almost impossible to get publishing rights for it.
  13. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Nope. 'Fraid not.
  14. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Unfortunately so do a lot of other people. You are breaking the law if you arrange any piece less than 70 years after the composer's death without permission. There are also other restrictions. Like oddbod said, many composers ir their families are amenable - after all, they are making money out of it and the music is being disseminated. However, some are not and, no matter how aggrieved you feel, you are not under any circumstances entitled to arrange without permission.

    The issue I hae with Ricordi revolves around one section of a piece which I wrote in a Tango style. Unfortunately (without ever having seen the music) the tango was so like the original tango it could have been it, so I had to write off to them for permission. They talked to me for a couple of months and then for no apparent reason they suddenly cut all communications and refused to answer any of my emails. "What's the point of that?" I hear you ask. The thing is, if you **** on me I **** back. I'll never knowingly buy one of their products again, no matter how desperate I am. I couldn't have cared if they'd just said "get lost, you can't do this piece you vile little man." Fair enough, but no. Just total silence. That sucks (to use the American expression) but I gotta live with that. I'll re-do it eventually. It just takes longer.:p
  15. Sandy Smith

    Sandy Smith Member

    Oh were it that easy !

    In actual fact I contacted the composer through his own web site asking permission to arrange 1712 for Grimethorpe.
    He gave his approval and passed me on to his publishers who were able to supply me with a score.

    Where the idea came from that you can perform anything without copyright permission as long as the arranger is also performing in the ensemble I don't know !
    Perhaps Mr Euniverse is living in a different universe than I am.
  16. zak

    zak Member

    Planet uranus perhaps???? ;)

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