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Palen Music Center Quick Note

Monday, March 30, 2009


The PMC Quick Note is a service provided to all area directors. It is part of our mission to support the lives of band directors across the Midwest. The Quick Note contains helpful tips and suggestions from area directors, spotlights on area college and university band programs, calendars of upcoming events, advocacy articles promoting music education, links to helpful web resources, and much more.  Comments, suggestions, ideas, and articles are always welcome.


Looking for help on a particular topic? Be sure to check out our Quick Note Catalog of back issues!

78% of Americans feel learning a musical instrument helps students perform better in other subjects.

-- Gallup Poll, "American Attitudes Toward Music", 2003

Can I Sell Recordings Of My Band?

The information found below was used with permission from the MENC website on U.S. Copyright Law: A Guide For Music Educators. The site contains helpful, clear language on what is or is not permitted as it relates to music copying, recording, or live performances.

The copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce copyrighted works in phonorecords (meaning any form of audio-only recording) – limited in the ways outlined previously. A common complication comes up when, in addition to recording music as part of the learning process, music educators may occasionally wish to record student performances and distribute copies of the recording within the community. Here, the teacher needs a license to do so, but the law somewhat simplifies the process for non-dramatic musical works. As long as the music has been distributed to the U.S. public under the authority of the copyright owner (who essentially gets the right to have the first try), any other person may obtain a compulsory license. That is, music teachers can pay a royalty, set by law, to the copyright owner.

In practice, a music teacher can get such a license by contacting The Harry Fox Agency, Inc., through the web site at There is a button on the site for “limited licensing of 2,500 copies or less” that makes licenses easy to obtain. The process is only for those who wish to make at least 500 copies, however; teachers who want to pay for fewer copies will have to and contact the publisher of the music directly. Three primary sources for this information are:

1. National Music Publishers' Association, Inc. (NMPA) at

2. Music Publishers' Association of the United States (MPA) at

3. U.S. Copyright Office at

The first recording of a work and its distribution in recorded form, as well as any recording of a dramatico-musical work such as a musical comedy, requires the consent of the copyright owner.

Editor's note: While I was teaching, we frequently recorded our band and sold recordings to the parents. Prior to the concert (or at least prior to the distribution of the recording), I contacted the music publishers and explained that we would be selling 50-100 copies of the recording. In most cases, the publishing company wrote a letter of permission without requesting any fees. In some cases, we paid a small royalty and received a mechanical license to duplicate up to a certain number of copies. Click here for a directory of music publishers. --Eric Matzat

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center

Can we assist you with anything?  Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.


Springfield Bob Hopkins, Mike Brown, and Jeromy Pope (417) 882-7000
Columbia Robert Pitts and Stephenie Algya (573) 256-5555
Liberty Ken Crisp and Dick Murdock (816) 792-8301
Joplin Wayne Blades, Scott Frederickson, and Zach Houser (417) 781-3100
Broken Arrow Mark VanVranken and Tiffany Hanson (918) 770-6827


If you would like to submit material, make corrections, give comments, or wish to be removed from this mailing list, please contact Eric Matzat.