How can I legally obtain rights to arrange a song?

  • 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.)

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