License Costs for Musical/Show Scores. Rip-off or not?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by 4thmandown, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. 4thmandown

    4thmandown Member

    I've just finished a series of 6 performances of 'Guys and Dolls' at school. There have been some great reviews in the local press and I was bowled over by some of the amazing talent that was in evidence, some of it from totally unexpected sources given that I've taught most of the cast at one time or another. It was challenging for me on trumpet, but highly a enjoyable experience as the orchestra consisted of some top class musicians. I really had to up my game to try to match their level.

    The only downside was that the show made a loss. OK we had to pay expenses to some of the orchestra, but I found out today that the license for the show was £1000. This seemed an incredible amount to me, given that it was a school performance. Is this the going rate, and is it a flat rate for all groups that want to stage such musicals? What are the criteria?
  2. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    Every show is different. Ours last year (Hairspray) was £1200. Some oldies are £500. Depends on Show, Number of performances, Ticket price etc.
  3. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Just paid $650 to License Annie Jr for my school, but that included 30 'yours-to-keep' scripts.
    Same with Mulan, $650 for unlimited performances and the scripts. :)
  4. Colin Gray

    Colin Gray Member

    I do a lot of Am-dram shows (40+) so realise they have to pay more than schools do but £1000 sounds cheap. Every show cost different amounts and has different conditions written into the contract. For Jesus Christ Super Star you have to hire a specific keyboard (Korg Trinity i think) and for Grease not all the songs from the film are included in the stage production so they have to be bought separately. One of the companys I work for did Beauty and the Beast and their budget was in the area of 40k. They had to get the licence, then hire the costumes and set from one supplier, and then pay a nightly licence fee to use the costumes!! It was a licence to print money! Having said all that, they did a great show and very nearly broke even and it was worth every penny.

    Musically the scores were some of the best I have ever played, brilliantly written, very precise and no mistakes, some of the old "classics" are in a terrible state and a nightmare to play from.
  5. Kiz7

    Kiz7 Member

    Seems pretty reasonable tbh and with good pricing and sensible overheads a reasonable profit could be made i.e. 6 performances at £7.00 per person (bit expensive perhaps?) with a school hall capacity of 200 people gives you an income of £8400. Licence of 1K seems fair.

    How much did you charge for tickets?
  6. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    These fees do seem steep - but when you go down the list of who gets paid out of that fee, the composer and lyricist/book-writer are often pretty near the bottom of it! Most shows are still in copyright, remember...

    It's interesting to note that these charges vary, depending on how popular a show is. I played 'La Cage aux Folles' with a good amateur company a couple of years ago; though the director had applied for the performing rights a good 2 years or so before that - ie. before 'La Cage' made a smash hit with its revival at (IIRC) the Menier. The licensees tried to increase the performing fee by a multiple of two or three, after the amateur company had already paid and signed for their performing rights - the attempt was unsuccessful, I might add. It was held in a fairly small theatre, but sold out every night for two weeks - not bad going, and tremendous fun too.
  7. Actually, the composer/book writer can get as much as 50% of that licence fee. It is print licences that give the 10-15% royalty for composers.
  8. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    As someone whose entire capitation for one year is less than £1200, these prices seem very high. (Capitation is the money we get to spend each year on books, replacement instruments, stationery items etc) School music departments do not always get the support from the school that they need, and certainly, in my school, the size of the audiences we can fit into our tiny performing space would only just break even after a 5 night show - if that.
  9. Colin Gray

    Colin Gray Member

    Completely agree with Mike, music departments often do not get the support they need. My secondary school only gave the music teacher £300 per year (not inc text books). We still did big shows though, Godspell, Grease etc etc but it was made very clear to the parents this was not supported by the school financially so all tickets were £5 but all profits stayed in the music/drama department for next years show and gradually it built up a good pot to spend of sets/lighting/bands etc etc and the shows paid for themselves. Obviously you need a head to at least support the idea of doing a show and the time and commitment it needs to get it started. Much respect to all the teachers out there who put in all the extra hours so the pupils can experience something amazing - I still remember all the shows I did at school!
  10. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Agreed - applause to all of the amazing teachers who put massive amounts of unpaid, often thankless hours in to bring the magic of the performing arts to young people.