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Permission for public performance

Like most British composers, I am a member of the UK Performing Rights Society which collects (and distributes) royalties from concert performances of my works.  I'd be grateful for answers to two questions.
How is permission obtained and royalties collected for concert performances of copyright music in the USA?
How is permission obtained for public performance of staged musical works, e.g. opera?
Many thanks,
Tom Cunningham
Replies (8): Threaded | Chronological
on January 31, 2013 9:07am
Tom:  In the U.S. permission for and royalties for concert performances are handled through one of three performance rights societies, ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.  They grant licenses that in most cases are blanket licenses covering their entire catalogs (either for a single concert, a concert series, or on an annual basis), although I suppose they might also grant licenses for the performance of specific works on specific concerts.  ASCAP and BMI base their license fees on the number of seats in the venue and the highest ticket price, using different formulas.  I don't know about SESAC.
Staged musical works come under Grand Rights and permissions and fees must be negotiated with the individual copyright owners or (more often) their designated agents. 
All the best,
on February 1, 2013 9:22am
Thank you for your reply.  It's great to be in touch again after 15 years!  So if a school or other choir wishes to perform a work of mine (registered with PRS rather than ASCAP, BMI or SESAC) what do they need to do?
on February 1, 2013 12:22pm
Tom:  I carefully avoided that question, because I actually do not know the answer!!  I'm pretty sure that an organization like ASCAP must have reciprocal agreements with PRS in other countries, but I've never been involved in any of them.  I suspect that your own UK PRS is more likely to have the answers.
on February 1, 2013 3:13pm
Perhaps even better, try ASCAP's London office!
on February 3, 2013 7:47am
Well I'd never have guessed that ASCAP would have a London office!  Thank you, John and Stephen, for your help.
on January 31, 2013 9:48am
For musicals, there are several companies that collect the royalties and licensing. The "big" musicals are usually held by Music Theater International (MTI), Tams-Witmark, Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, or Samuel French. 
on February 4, 2013 7:15am
I am a member of ASCAP and some if my works have been performed in the UK. The performance rights were still handled by ASCAP. In your situation, perhaps your UK PRS has a similar setup? I would check with them directly. 
And a cautionary tale: most US arts organisations indeed have blanket ASCAP and BMI licenses, but unfortunately many do not report adequately the exact composer/title details of their performances. As a result (speaking from experience), composers often miss out on receiving many of the royalties owing. The best way to avoid this problem is for the composer to report the specific performances directly to the performing rights body.
In your case I would start with the UK PRS, since that's where your work is registered.
Best of luck,
Dr. Kathleen McGuire
on February 8, 2013 6:15am
Thank you, Kathleen, that's very helpful.
I spoke to the ASCAP London office and they confirm that there is indeed full reciprocal agreement between ASCAP and PRS.
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