Concert Bands

Music Licensing for Concert Bands

Here are the facts you need to know about the ASCAP music license for concert bands:

• ASCAP is a membership organization of more than 715,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. Our members include both timeless composers such as Henry Mancini, Vincent Persichetti and Marvin Hamlisch to the many talented composers of today, including Donald Grantham, Jennifer Higdon, Chen Yi and Alvin Singleton.

• Our license agreement makes complying with the law easy. U.S. copyright law requires you to obtain permission from copyright owners of musical compositions to perform their compositions to the public. Instead of reaching out to hundreds of thousands of music creators yourself, a single ASCAP license agreement gives you permission to play any music contained in ASCAP's vast repertory of many millions of musical compositions. 

• The ASCAP Concert Band license agreement can be found here, along with the license rate schedule. This license covers everything you need to perform the ASCAP repertory worry-free for your audiences.

• As an alternative, concert bands may also qualify for the ASCAP blanket license offered through the Association of Concert Bands (ACB) at a reduced rate. To qualify for this license, you must be an organizational member of the ACB. You can find out more about joining the ACB on their website.

• Music licensing is the right thing to do. Your license fee helps support ASCAP songwriters and composers. 88¢ of every $1 from your license fee gets distributed to ASCAP members as royalties, allowing them to earn a living from their craft and continue creating music to inspire your performances.

For more details on ASCAP licenses for concert bands, please see the FAQ below.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Concert Bands
What is a "performance fee"?
A performance fee is the license fee paid to copyright owners in order to legally perform publicly copyrighted compositions. Obtaining a performance license and paying the license fees ensures that composers and arrangers are fairly compensated for the use of their music and that they have the incentive to create new music.
What is a Blanket License?
A blanket license is a license that provides unlimited access to an entire repertory during the term of a license for a single fee. The ASCAP blanket license enables you to perform any or all of the entire ASCAP repertory as many times as you want for a single low annual fee.
How does the ASCAP blanket license through the Association of Concert Bands work?
Organizational members of ACB may purchase an ASCAP blanket license for an ACB-member fee of $225/year. In addition to paying the required fee, the ACB member is also required to keep track of the compositions played during the year and provide certain information regarding each composition (Title, Arranger, Composer, Date, Organization Name and Location of Performance) to allow ASCAP to distribute the fees to its members. An Excel spreadsheet report form may be downloaded from the ACB website. At the end of each year, the ACB member will submit the report form to ACB, which will submit the information to ASCAP.
Do we need a performance license if we own the printed score and parts or have paid a rental fee to the publisher?
Yes. A copyright is actually a bundle of different rights. Purchasing print rights will permit you to reproduce and distribute copies of the score. However, it will not provide the right to perform the score. A separate performance license is required to perform the score. Conversely, obtaining a performance license will not permit you to make copies of a printed score. Note that some publishers may require you to show proof of having obtained a performance license in order to rent a copy of the score.
Do we need a license if the concert is free?
In most instances, yes. The copyright law does provide a limited exemption for certain "noncommercial" performances where the public performances are free, where the musicians perform on a volunteer basis, and which are charitable in nature. If you believe your performance may be exempt, we suggest you contact a copyright expert.
If we are a non-profit or tax-exempt organization, do we need to obtain a public performance license?
Generally, yes. Copyright law applies to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations alike, regardless of IRS designation. An organization's business formation type or tax status does not affect its copyright obligations.
Do we need a license if we don't pay the musicians in our band?

Possibly. The copyright law provides a limited exemption for certain "noncommercial" performances where the public performances are free, where nobody receives payment in connection with providing the performances (i.e., the musicians, conductor, manager all volunteer their services) and the performances are charitable in nature. If you believe your performance may be exempt, we suggest you contact a copyright expert.

Do we need a license if our events are held at a college or university that already has an ASCAP license?
Yes. When independent organizations rent campus facilities for events that they sponsor and produce themselves, they must first obtain their own performance license.
How do we know if the music we play is covered by the blanket license?
The vast ASCAP repertory covers an array of concert band music. To check whether a composition is in the ASCAP repertory, search the repertory here.
Are we covered by this license if we perform outside of the U.S.?
No. If you are performing outside of U.S. territory, you need to contact the local performing rights organization to determine what performance licenses may be required.
What happens if we do not have an ASCAP license?
If you do not have an ASCAP license, and you have not received a license directly from the copyright owners of the copyrighted compositions or arrangements you are performing, then your organization and each individual responsible for any unauthorized performances of copyrighted musical compositions may be considered copyright infringers. 
With a blanket public performance license, does that mean we can record and sell CDs of our performances?
No, a public performance license only covers public performance rights. In order to produce and sell CDs, you need to obtain additional rights to the music. Please contact the music publishers of the compositions directly to discuss what additional rights may be necessary. You can determine who are the publishers of specific compositions in the ASCAP repertory by searching the ASCAP ACE database.
We are a Brass Band and play primarily British Brass Band arrangements, are we covered with the blanket license?
Most likely. ASCAP has affiliate relationships with nearly 100 different foreign performing rights organizations (including PRS, the British performing rights society) that provide ASCAP the right to include their repertory in the ASCAP blanket license. Also, some composers of this style of music are themselves members of ASCAP, so their music may be directly covered by an ASCAP license.

The Association of Concert Bands

Learn more about the organization and how to become a member.

Have additional questions about ASCAP licenses?

Check out our Help Center for more information.