FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General Questions

I like to think of it as a combined IMDB and Craigslist for A Cappella Arrangements. It’s like IMDB in the sense that it’s an internet database of information about existing A Cappella Arrangements, and it’s like Craigslist in the sense that it’s a central place for arrangers and a cappella groups to find each other. Just like Craigslist, the site just provides contact information and stops there. Any communication after that happens off-site.

This site is NOT a Napster, iTunes, or eBay for A Cappella Arrangements. You cannot download, buy, sell, or trade arrangements on the site. That’s not the site’s purpose. The site’s purpose is to be an informational resource, and to connect a cappella groups with a cappella arrangers.

Listing your arrangements on the site will allow a cappella groups to find out about your work, and possibly contact you about it. It’s also a place where you can find commissions (groups who want to hire you to arrange for them.)

You can find a cappella arrangements here that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a great place to find out if an a cappella arrangement exists of a certain song, or to find all arrangements by a certain artist/arranger/group/etc. It’s a place where you can find out who to contact about a given arrangement. It’s also a place where you can find an arranger to arrange a custom arrangement for your group.

Check out the “Number of arrangements” box at the bottom of the left-sidebar. It shows how many arrangements were added to this site each year. Currently, the total is well over 4,000 and growing every day.

Legality of Arranging

Yes. Simply arranging your own a cappella arrangement of a popular song is legal. After all, that’s essentially what you’re doing when you sing your favorite song in the shower. The catch is that since an arrangement is “Derivative Work” (work based on previously copyrighted material), you do not own the full copyright to this arrangement, and so you’re limited in the amount that you can actually do with this arrangement. For instance, you cannot publicly perform it or release a recording of it without first obtaining some additional rights. This is true even if you’re not making money from it. (A common misconception.)

  • The best way is to obtain written permission from any one of the composers or publishers. To find out who the publisher is, you can try searching the websites of the major Performance Rights Organizations. The three main PROs in the US are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

  • It’s also possible (though unproven in court either way) that if you’re arranging a song for the the purpose of performing it in a venue covered by a Blanket License, permission to arrange the song is implied by the Blanket License itself. A Cappella arranger Jonathan Minkoff makes a great case for that, which you can read here: http://www.acappella101.com/1/post/2012/02/permission-to-arrange-for-live-performance.html

  • In many cases, you can obtain a “Mechanical License”, which allows you certain rights without having to get permission directly from the copyright holder. (See next question.)

According to Wikipedia:
“In copyright law, a mechanical license is a license that grants certain limited permissions to work with, study, improve upon, reinterpret, re-record (etc.) something that is neither a free/open source item nor in the public domain.
Within the music industry, a mechanical license gives the holder permission to create copies of a recorded song which they did not write and/or do not have copyright over. It is an agreement with the composition copyright holder, the publisher, or the songwriter that allows the holder to reproduce the composition – recording, printed sheet music, lyrics, for example.
Copyright law also allows for a “compulsory mechanical license”. Under the law, anybody can obtain compulsory mechanical license without express permission from the copyright holder.”

In most cases, you can get a Mechanical License here: http://www.harryfox.com/public/MechanicalLicenseslic.jsp

Unfortunately, no. Arrangements are copyrightable, but only as a derivative work. Derivative works are based on previously copyrighted material. In plain English: your arrangement could not exist without someone else’s song, so there’s a part of your arrangement that you do not own. You can’t copyright just your contribution, because it’s impossible to separate your contribution from the underlying source material.

It’s legal to simply create an arrangement, and it’s legal to say you created it, so yes. But it’s NOT legal to distribute/sell/trade/perform the arrangement (even if you’re not profiting), and you cannot use the site for this purpose.

So, you’re perfectly welcome to simply post about having created something. You’re not breaking any laws by doing this. (And actually, this is useful for the purposes of making the database as complete as possible.) It’s only if you distribute/sell/perform/record the arrangement that you may be breaking laws.

Yes–remember you’re not actually submitting the arrangement itself, you’re submitting information about the arrangement. To go with the IMDB analogy again: I don’t need George Lucas’s permission to create an IMDB page for Star Wars and list all the relevant information about it.

Contact us, and we’ll remove it.

It has only happened twice in the 4 year history of this site.

Firstly, check it out to see if your rights are actually being infringed upon. To use the IMDB analogy above; is someone just posting a page listing the cast and creative team of Star Wars? Or are they actually trying to distribute illegal copies of Star Wars through this website?

Sorry, no. This is a common misconception. You may still be breaking laws even if you’re not making money.

Public Domain is a term used to describe works that are not under copyright, usually because their copyright has expired. In regards to A Cappella Arrangements, you can legally arrange songs in the Public Domain without getting anyone’s permission.

Here’s a good place to find out if a given song is in the Public Domain: http://www.publicdomainsherpa.com/calculator.html

This is pretty complicated, so I’m going to annoyingly refer you to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

But basically, I wouldn’t rely too heavily on this as the legal grounds for your arrangement. It’s a pretty limited right, and also highly subjective.

Possibly, actually. There’s a section of Fair Use that strangely allows for use of copyrighted material without permission, for the intention of parodying it. Again, you’ll want to read more about this, as it’s a little more complicated than that. (The “intent” is very important, for example.)

Other

The correct spelling is “a cappella”. Two words, two Ps, two Ls.

Danny Abosch, and a small team of volunteers. You can find out more about Danny here: http://dannyabosch.com/

Using “A Cappella Hosting” to host your website! Check it out: http://www.acappellahosting.com/

Email us, or ask the question in the Forum. Maybe we’ll even add it to this page!

Using The Site

There are detailed instructions on that here: Submit Arrangements

Click on the “arrangements by title” tab! This will show you an alphabetical list of all arrangements.

Click the “categories” tab! This is a powerful way to look for all songs by a particular artist, all songs for female-only groups, etc!

Categories

You sure can. The fields to click on are the blue links in the “Related categories” box, to the left of the arrangement.

Related Categories

(And we know they’re weirdly hard to click. It’s a known issue…

EDIT: This is now fixed, as of 4/27/14!)

Contact the arranger, either by email or by leaving a comment on the arrangement. (And of course, we’re just talking about arrangements that the arranger has the legal rights to distribute.)

No. The arrangements themselves are not hosted on the site, so there’s no way to download them. It’s also just not the purpose of the site.

Comments are for messages that might be helpful to others too. For instance “Can this arrangement be performed with 5 people?” would be a good comment, because the answer would probably be helpful to others. But “I’d like to get this arrangement from you” should be a private email. Also, arrangers are more likely to see an email sooner than a comment.

Some of them do–that’s up to the arranger. And as a reminder, you can’t buy arrangements on this website. You can email the arranger who may be able to sell you an arrangement–only if he/she has secured the necessary legal rights to do so, of course.

Yep!

Absolutely not. In fact, since any sales would take place off-site, we have no way of even knowing about them.

Try both emailing them AND leaving a comment on the arrangement. If no email address is listed, email us and we’ll see if we can contact them for you.

You sure can. Post the details in the “Commisions” section. Lots of arrangers regularly check this board, and you’ll probably hear from someone soon.

That depends on so many things, so it’s impossible to say. I’ll say that most seem to be in the range of $50-$150, and usually arrangers will want more for a commission (creating a new arrangement) than for an existing arrangement. If you’re not sure what’s a fair price, you can always ask the other person for an offer.
(And I know you’re getting tired of hearing this, but again: we’re only talking about arrangements where the arrangers have secured the necessary legal rights.)

Check out the “commissions” section!”

Use the date filters!
Commisions Filters

Yep! Check it out:


Yes.

No. You do need to register, but it’s very easy and quick.

Yes. Click this “Edit” button below the Arrangement title.
Edit Arrangement

No, but you can certainly email us about a change you think should be made.

This is the internet. Spam happens. We remove it whenever we see it, but we can’t catch everything. Try not to let it bother you, and feel free to email us to let us know about it.