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Music Rights for plays and musicals (

I've just posted  a short piece on  my other site – about using pre-existing music in a play or musical show.    It's a short discussion of Grand vs. Small performing rights, and some key points for licensing grand rights.

6 Responses to Music Rights for plays and musicals (

  1. Im a senior at kent state specializing in Human Development Famly Studies , (drug intervention). I’ve written a musical that deals directly or indirectly with opiated in all its forms.
    The dialogue is complete, and the songs are chosen. All are covers that will be performed with an orchestra live. There are 18 songs from virtually every genre. I would like to ask if writers/ publisherscharge minimizes or eliminate fees for college productions.

    Thank you for your consideration ahead. Time.

    Warm regards,


    • Hi Jeff,

      Generally, music publishers exist to make money for their shareholders and for the songwriters they represent, so they’ll insist on collecting royalties for the songs you use.

      That said, the nature of your proposed production may well lead them to offer very reasonable terms, so it’s worth pursuing. But it’s a time-consuming, and somewhat detail-oriented process.. So you may need some professional help.

  2. I love the music from “Forever Plaid” and I have a small male a cappella group that would love to sing some of those arrangements, not the whole show. We are a small town unprofessional group. I know there are licensing fees that would be allowed. Is there a way we could buy the musical score for some or all of the music and be able to perform it in small venues without doing the play itself? We are a non profit ensemble. I hope I’ve expressed what I wish to do clearly and look forward to a response. Also, how would I go about obtaining a script and score if we ever wanted to do this.

  3. My production company is writing a show that will feature four or five singer/composers (all dead.)

    How do I go about using certain songs for inclusion in this show.

    The hope is that the show will be a hit and run on Broadway for many years, but of course, who knows. How does the above factor into payments for use of the material.

    Thanks, in advance, for you help.
    Ranny Pierce

    • I’ve answered your question privately because I don’t want to offer specific legal advice in this forum.

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