TCR087 PODCAST - Untangling music copyright for choirs - Total Choir Resources

TCR087 PODCAST – Untangling music copyright for choirs


In this special podcast episode, we welcome Ivan Chandler, founder and CEO of Musicalities, to help us out with some music copyright issues for choirs.

Musicalities is a music copyright and licensing company here in the UK and is one of the country’s leading music consultancies. Ivan has worked in the entertainment industry for over 30 years and has held executive positions at Paramount Pictures, Elton John’s Rocket Music Co. and Motown International. He is also a music supervisor, music licensing executive, music publisher, keyboard player, composer, trainer in music copyright and a forensic musicologist.


Victoria Hopkins

Victoria is a founder and director of Total Choir Resources. She leads Total Voice Chamber Choir in the UK.

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Louise - a couple of years ago Reply

Thank you – very interesting.

Shelagh Rogers - a couple of years ago Reply

Thanks – it’s such a complex subject! When I play piano for a choir I often cannot manage the page turns and one solution is to photocopy the next page, or part of a page so that I can attach it to the copy and make the turn at a more suitable place. I’ve still paid for the copy, after all, and it has been supplied in a format that makes it unsuitable for purpose, but I do wonder if it is illegal. Some of my copies end up being stretched out from one end of the piano to the other – – –

    Victoria Hopkins - a couple of years ago Reply

    Hi Shelagh. I think the situation you describe would be similar to the situation I discussed with Ivan in which singers copy music in order to scribble on it without ruining the original. Strictly speaking, it breaches copyright, but in practice, as long as you’re using it solely for your own private use, no one’s going to get in a knot about it. You’ve done the right thing by the composer or arranger in buying the original.

John Aldam - a couple of years ago Reply

Do I need to pay the PRS if I upload my cover of a copyrighted song to Soundcloud?

    Victoria Hopkins - a couple of years ago Reply

    Hi John. I don’t know the answer to that because I’m not a copyright expert. I would imagine that the best thing to do is to give PRS a ring. Soundcloud has warnings that you may not upload copyright works without permission, and they have a system that usually boots out any copyright stuff before it’s published. But as I say, PRS or Soundcloud are probably the places to go for advice.

Juanita Cucinotta - a couple of years ago Reply

Thank you so much for this podcast as it is such a difficult area to navigate. From my experience as a musician who has recorded originals and covers, it was always very clear to me that we pay for copyright of the covers, obviously because we were making money from the sales of the cds. But we would sing these songs at gigs and it wasn’t an issue. So I was quite confused when copyright issues came up for choirs like mine who only performed the songs, and for free as well.
I would like to ask, if the printed arrangements are used to learn the songs in the choir rehearsals but not in the performance, is this breaching copyright?
Thank you, Juanita

    Victoria Hopkins - a couple of years ago Reply

    Hi Juanita. I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast.

    Obviously, I’m not a copyright expert, and this is just my opinion, but in the circumstances you describe, I can’t imagine that you would be doing anything wrong, assuming that you had leglitimately bought the rehearsal copies and had the necessary performance licence.

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