Music Arranging

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by On the Horn, Sep 14, 2003.

  1. On the Horn

    On the Horn Member

    Ok I actually have a serious question for once.
    Basically myself and a few mates have arranged some, decent, possibly bordering on the cheesy, music for band but anyway we are wondering about copyright , what needs to be done , where do we start , any help would be welcome, websites , whatever , we don't have a clue.
  2. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Firstly, officially you must obtain copyright permission from the copyright holder before you arrange any copyrighted music.
    It must also be said that not all copyright requests are granted.

    There are several avenues to take when asking for copyright permission.

    Do you want to produce a commercial arrangement.
    Do you just want a 'one off' permission to play something a concert.
    Do you wish to record the arrangement.
    Will you be using the arrangement on TV or Radio
    Etc, etc.

    A publisher will usually grant permisison for a 'one off' as long as it is played by your band only. There might be a small charge for this.

    A commercial arrangement will mean you will have to pay for the privilage. This can costs anything from £30 - £500 depending on how many copies/sets you are likely to sell and the price that you will be selling at. (This is where it starts getting complicated)

    I have included a couple of links that might be of interest you.

    I did say some weeks ago that I would post a thread on copyright issues. Although I am not an authority on it, I think there are many misconceptions regarding copyright issues and it is certainly in everyone's interest to perhaps understand the basics.

    Good luck!

  3. On the Horn

    On the Horn Member

    Cheers, will take a look at the sites. My be more hassle than its worth!
  4. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    Just to embellish on what Roger said,

    Copyright law dictates that you must obtain permission from the copyright owner before starting an arrangment. In practice however, you will find that you have to supply the copyright owner with a copy of your arrangment before a licence can be given, this means that you must arrange the piece before it can be approved. This is one of the loop-holes in copyright. Remember, the publisher will be wanting to see what you did to the arrangment. If you were selling it without permission/licence, then that is a differant matter.

    Roger commented on arranging a piece costs between £30 and £500 which is very true (although, in practice is between £30 and £60, with £30 being the average), however this is only an arranging fee. If you wish to sell it and/or publish it on your publishing label, you must obtain a publishing licence, usually payable in advance, approx 15% of your selling price of the arrangment.

    Usually, you will not obtain MCPS or PRS royalties for a publishing licence. Like wise, music for syncronisation (Film and TV) is a differant process and is not processed in the same way as arranging or publishing permissions are obtained.

    The most important copyright law is not: to obtain permission before arranging a piece of music. The most important thing you must remember is that your arrangment should not dramatically alter in a derogatory manner of which the original composer intended. That is the most important aspect of copyright, obtaining permission is, on the whole, very easy!
  5. On the Horn

    On the Horn Member

    Can any one take for example a piece they have arranged and go through the steps they have gone through to have it commercially produced.

    As I understand it so far.
    1) Pick a piece and arrange it.
    2) contact composer ? Original publisher - any lists available ?
    3) Send a copy of arrangement if they want to look at it
    4) Pay an arranging fee for just haveing arranged it
    5) Work out a percentange with the original composer from cost of sale and pay a set fee.

    Is this anywhere close ? Is it worth actually going to the hassle ?
  6. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    1)Title of my arrangment: MacArthur Park
    2)Copyright Owner for sheet music arranging: Music Sales
    3)send it to them, they take approx 3 weeks for approval
    4)£30 arranging fee
    5)payable in advance, say 10 copies of MacArthur Park and I sell it at £40, therefore my advance fee for obtaining a publishing licence is 15% of £400.

    The above details are calculated from Music Sales Ltd agreements.
    The composer has nothing to do with giving permission. The copyright owner is the place to contact, usually the publisher but may be the composer is certain circumstances. The Copyright owner will probably send your arr off to the composer to check through.

    However, obtaining Copyright for my arrangment for Flower of Scotland went as follows:

    1) Flower of Scotland
    2)Sent arr to Ronnie Browne (owner of the Corries (Music) Ltd
    3) took about 3 weeks to approve, he sent the contract, NO ARRANGMENT FEE WAS NEEDED!
    4)10% of my sales of Flower of Scotland go to the Copyright Owner, The Corries (Music) Ltd. NOT PAYABLE IN ADVANCE! but should submit account of the sale of the piece, along with royalties due to them every 6 Months.

    See how the two processes went differant ways!

    If your first starting out it is daunting but do stick in there!!!

    Copyright is a composers dream but an arrangers worst nightmare!!
  7. On the Horn

    On the Horn Member

    James thats very helpful, gives us a better idea now of how it may go should we decide to proceed. Thanks for all your help.
  8. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    No probs!

    I forgot to say that the copyright owner will also give you the way they want the copyright written at the bottom of the page, for example

    Copyright © 1966 Music Sales Ltd, London.

    They may also give 'credit info', like Words and Music by Roy Thomas, instaed fo you putting Roy Thomas.

    You'll not be able to put Copyright © 2003 your company or name. But you can write, This arrangment Copyright © 2003 your company or name. (as well as their copyright).


    Glad to be a help to you!
  9. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    either all that, or you just simply arrange music that was written hundreds of years ago in which there was no copyright, or the composers been dead for so long ;o)
  10. DaveBB

    DaveBB Member

    so how long after the composer dies can you do an arrangement without all the copyright or is how long since it was copyrighted
  11. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Basically it is 70 years after the death of the composer. ie. anything written before 1933, unless you are intending to arrange a copyrighted arrangement of the piece by someone else! :?
    You will then have to seek copyright permission to alter the arrangement of the original.

    Complicated eh!

  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Hope I can be of some help here (I have answered in a similar fashion elsewhere on these boards) The very BASICS are thus: In the EC, copyright subsists in a work for 70 years after death of the composer. There are different rules for the following:

    Vocal arrangements of vocal music where composer is out of copyright, but where the author of the words remains in copyright:

    Copyright laws in non-EC countries (for example, USA) and its worldwide effects:

    Posthumous works; where the composer would normally be considered out of copyright (though not just limited to out of copyright composers, mind) but where an individual work wasn't performed in composers lifetime but was divulged after the demise of the composer:

    Works, thought to be 'traditional' but enjoy copyright protection due to having been 'collected'. i.e. certain folk songs and Christmas carols

    There are of course other exceptions to the rule(s) but should you wish to check how to get in touch with a copyright owner - usually the publisher (Philip Sparke mentioned 'moral rights' elsewhere. Sometimes, a publisher is obliged to ask the composer of a work whether he/she would find any such arrangements acceptable before proceeding to allow - or indeed, debar any transcriptions/arrangements) or, should you wish to find out if indeed, a work is in copyright or not, then please feel free to give me a ring at the PRS. If I don't know the answer to your queries, it's highly likely, having worked here for 17 years, I'll know someone who will.

    Again, I've mentioned this before so sorry to be so repetitious, but I see publishers and composers contributing to this site in the 2 days since I signed up here, so it really is better to be safe than sorry. As for fees payable for arranging copyright works, that's usually down to the individual publisher, once/if permission has been granted.

    As Mr Sparke has mentioned elsewhere, most brass band music in its original form is in copyright. Notable composer exception from this year onwards (give or take any posthumous works): Percy Fletcher.

    Kind regards

    Dave Payn
    Performing Right Society
    Fulham Brass Band
    Conductor: Croydon Brass Band
    General brass junkie :lol:
  13. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member


    Sorry to correct you, Roger, as you are normally right on the button, but it's anything written by a composer who died before 1933, with certain exceptions lengthened by WWII and certain Russian works. eg A composer who died in 1934 (as did Elgar, Holst and Faure) comes out of copyright on the 1st Jan 2005.

    A strange example: Though Prokofiev died in 1953 (same day as Stalin!) the music for Peter and the Wolf is actually out of copyright as Russia joined the system late. The words, however, ARE in copyright. So you could arrange the music (if you were crazy!) but not use it with the words without permission!
  14. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Well spotted Philip - just testing to see who's on the ball!

  15. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Re: Copyright

    A strange example: Though Prokofiev died in 1953 (same day as Stalin!) the music for Peter and the Wolf is actually out of copyright as Russia joined the system late. The words, however, ARE in copyright. So you could arrange the music (if you were crazy!) but not use it with the words without permission![/quote]

    Please forgive intrusion, but before we have a flurry of composers and arrangers deciding they wish to arrange extracts from Peter and the Wolf, I have consulted my colleagues in the classical copyright department here (a.k.a Music Services) at Performing Right Society to confirm what I thought, namely that the music for Peter and the Wolf is now FULLY copyright in the UK. Russia signed to the Berne copyright convention in 1993, guaranteeing ANY Russian work at least 50 years copyright protection in the UK, but works which were simultaneously published in an EC country - as Peter and the Wolf is - enjoy the standard UK copyright protection of 70 years, therefore until January 1 2024, any arrangements of PatW need to be cleared by the copyright owners (Boosey and Hawkes)

    Sorry to disappoint! :cry:

    By the way, if this does diappoint, please don't blame me, I didn't invent this rule!

  16. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    P & T W

    Dear Dave,

    No, it doesn't dissappoint at all. Especially if it stops anyone trying to arrange it for band!

    Thanks for bringing me up to date!
  17. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member


    No problem, Philip. Only too glad to be of assistance. Even after 17 years at this place, there are still a few 'grey areas' of copyright which confuse me! Though, you're spot on about Elgar, Delius and Holst going in to the public domain as of Jan 1 2005, save a few posthumous works.

  18. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Mr Payn

    Bit disappointed at the lack of anagrams in your replies.

    Who am I?

    I play Bass as per my psuedonym, and my brother plays in the same band that you do, also on Bass. Clue: Tony is not my brother :lol:
  19. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Guess the bass

    I knew who you were when I saw the vacancies for Becontree on this site!

    Anagrams? Don't tempt me.....oops! too late.....

    Military bands: It's mainly drab
    Gilbert and Sullivan: Unrivalled blasting
    Gilbert and Sullivan operettas: Stale, vulgar, bland repetitions
    Three tenors: The notes err
    Local brass band competitions: Old 'n' basic: split notes; bar; coma.

    There you go TE!

  20. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Is nothing sacred :?: :?: :?: :twisted:

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