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Live Music Performance Licensing for Festivals.

Andy Robertson

Navigating the legal requirements for the licensing of any live music performance or broadcast can be complex and music festival organisers need to be aware of their obligations to ensure compliance. This is less of an issue for artists performing their own material but for cover acts, DJs and artists performing someone else's material it is essential to get right.

The licensing for public performance or broadcasting exists to protect the rights of publishers and composers of original material and ensures that they are suitably rewarded when their material is used by a third party. Simply put a music festival organisation that is correctly licensed means that they have the legal right to reproduce material, although it can get much more complex that that depending on specific circumstances.

Performing Rights Organisations (PROs).
The PROs administer the licensing for public performance of material around the world and they represent songwriters, composers and music publishers and collect royalties on their behalf. The most well know PROs include ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers) and PRS for Music (Performing Right Society for Music, UK). The PROs ensure that music creators are fairly compensated for use of their material when broadcast or performed to a live audience like a music festival setting. The licenses issued by PROs to music festival organisers usually have a blanket application rather than relating to a specific artist's material. 

Broadcasting and Synchronised Licensing. 
It is not unusual for music festivals to have deals with broadcast organisations that may include TV and Radio stations who are broadcasting performances live. In addition, the organisers may have their own live streaming broadcast for online audiences who have paid for access to live feeds. Festival organisers should check with PROs to see if additional licenses need to be purchased for any live or synchronised broadcasting. 

Artists Agreements. 
Festival organisers attempt to use a standard agreement or contract with every artist curated for their event. However, in some circumstances artists may insist on their own contract agreement or additional clauses to be added. This could include restrictions on live broadcast media and streaming and it is essential that this be clearly communicated to broadcasters in advance so that there is no legal breach. 

Other Factors. 
Festival organisers should check the implications of any international licensing restrictions as there may be differences between countries. In addition, it is essential that the organisers consult with legal experts regarding their licensing requirements and make allowances in their budgets for the purchase of all necessary licenses. It would be sensible for organisers to ensure that correct and up-to-date records are kept ensuring that they meet all the licensing requirements should there be any dispute with a PRO who do employ sophisticated technology to monitor any unauthorised performances.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

Image by Andre Moura via Pexels.

Andy Robertson
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