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Things to Be Aware of When Performing Copyrighted Music and Public Domain Music in Public


As a musician or singer, one of the most enjoyable (and sometimes frightening) experiences can be performing a piece of music in front of an audience.  With all the stress and excitement of preparing for your performance, don’t let the status of your sheet music be one more thing that you need to worry about.  Whether you are performing copyrighted material or using free sheet music, there are some simple guidelines to follow to ensure that you can focus on your performance and not the legalities behind it.


If you have chosen a piece of free sheet music to base your performance on, then there is no need to worry – you have all of the legal rights that you need to perform your piece without hesitation.  When a piece of music is put into the public domain (thus creating free sheet music), then the original author waives all rights to that music, including the right to control or assess fees on performances.


Copyrighted sheet music, on the other hand, must be treated differently.  Depending on who the original composer or author is and what their wishes are, you may or may not be able to legally perform the piece of music in public.  If you have chosen copyrighted material for your performance, the safest thing to do is to contact the music’s author or publisher and request the right to perform the piece.  Be sure to get your permission in writing and then follow their guidelines for performance.