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Music

Welcome to the BABS Music page, where you can find information on the best ways to source music and learning tracks for your group, as well as some guidance on Copyright.

Music
There are three main ways to source sheet music for your group, outlined in the table below:

 

Buy a published
arrangement

Buy an
unpublished arrangement

Commission a
new arrangement

Simplicity

The most
straight-forward

More complicated

The most
complicated

Arranged yet?

Already arranged
and ready to go.

Already arranged
and ready to go.

You’ll have to wait for the arranger, but it will be bespoke for your group.

Copyright Clearance?

Copyright clearance is usually already obtained (but check it is valid in the UK).

You will have to seek permission from the copyright owner to handle sheet music

You will have to seek permission from the copyright owner to have it arranged and handle sheet music.

Unique?

Lots of other groups could sing this
arrangement

Less likely to be
sung by other
groups

Only your group will sing the
arrangement
(for now!)

Cost

Usually the cheapest method

Can be more
expensive as you may have to pay for permission from the UK Copyright Holder

Probably the most expensive as you may have to pay the arranger and for permission from the UK Copyright Holder

Usual copyright rules…

Apply in all cases!
Every member of your group must have a legal, original copy, with permission from the copyright owner to have the sheet music.
This blog is a useful resource.

 
Sources of Published Arrangements:

  • Barbershop Harmony Society – click on Published Arrangements. TIP – you can also click on ‘Worldwide Rights’ for a list of published arrangements that already have copyright clearance for the UK. REMEMBER TO USE YOUR AFFILLIATE DISCOUNT CODE FOR 25% OFF.

  • BABS Harmony Store – we have a library of 17 published arrangements, along with a songbook of 12 published arrangements entitled ‘Songs for Special Occasions’.

  • Direct from music publishers. Companies such as Hal Leonard and Music Sales have some published music arrangers. Try searching on Amazon.

Remember – every member of your group must have an original copy of your music, and you must check that the published arrangement has copyright clearance for the UK.

Sources of Unpublished arrangements:

  • Barbershop Harmony Society – click on Unpublished Arrangements. You can purchase any arrangement from the BHS but you must check that it has clearance from the UK Copyright Holder. REMEMBER TO USE YOUR AFFILLIATE DISCOUNT CODE FOR 25% OFF.

  • BABS Harmony Store – we have a large library of unpublished arrangements by British arrangers, including many by the late, great Steve Hall.

  • Direct from arrangers – there are many barbershop arrangers all over the world who hold a back-catalogue of arrangements that are for sale. Some of the most popular arrangers are below:

  • Liz Garnett (UK)
    Alex Kaiserman (UK)
    Simon Arnott (UK)
    Ben Ferguson (UK)
    Tom Gentry (USA)
    David Wright (USA)
    David Harrington (USA)
    Aaron Dale (USA)
    Many, many more! Listed here

Remember – every member of your group must have an original copy of your music, and you must ensure that the arrangement has copyright clearance for the UK.

Sources of commissioned arrangements
Many barbershop arrangers are happy to accept commissions. It is worth trying any of the arrangers below:

Remember, when commissioning an arrangement, you must ensure that you have permission from the UK Copyright Holder to have it arranged, and to perform it. Some arrangers will ask for an ‘Agreement in Principle’ from the UK Copyright Holder before they begin work.

Learning Tracks:
Many groups like to use learning tracks to assist in learning the music by ear. Similar to the list of arrangers, there are a vast number of people creating learning tracks, some of which are listed below:

A lot of these learning track creators have a back-catalogue of tracks you can purchase quickly, and they also will accept commissions of new learning tracks. This database is a useful resource to search through many back-catalogues.

Copyright
Whilst copyright can be a daunting and complicated area, the idea behind it is simple; it allows songwriters, composers, lyricists and arrangers to claim ownership over their work.

Once anyone creates a piece of work, the creator automatically has copyright over it – and they can copy it as many times as they want (but nobody else can). The copyright will last for 70 years after the creators’ death. A lot of the time, the creator will sign their rights over to publishing companies for them to administer.

When a work is in copyright, you cannot:

  • > copy the lyrics in any way
    > copy the sheet music in any way
    >arrange the song for your group (or have it arranged)
    >sell, give away or swap an arrangement of the song

    However, you can do all of the above if you ask permission!

When using sheet music (either published, unpublished or newly-commissioned arrangements), it is your duty to check if you have permission from the copyright owner, and if you do not, you must get permission from the copyright owner before you use the sheet music.
This guide, prepared by Rod Adams for BABS, should prove useful when you are seeking permission from copyright owners to use sheet music.

N.B. The above guidance is about obtaining the rights to copy sheet music – not to perform it! If you want to perform the song to a paying audience, PRS for Music will need to collect money on behalf of the song creator. You don’t need permission to perform the songs – you just need to pay for the right to.
In the majority of cases, music venues will have a PRS Licence, so you will just need to give the venue a list of songs you performed with details of the composer/arranger.

As well as the Rod Adams’ guide, this blog is also a useful resource.

BABS Music Advice Service
We hope you find the above advice and guidance useful, however if you would like further advice, guidance or assistance, BABS runs a Music Advice Service for its members.
Mike Lofthouse, who runs this service, and has a wealth of experience, contacts and advice that he would be happy to share. Furthermore, he is happy to act on your behalf when obtaining new music, which has many benefits as he often knows the ‘way in’ with copyright holders, knows how the system works and has access to a database of copyright information for musical works.
Furthermore, there are financial benefits as Mike can combine orders, splitting the costs of shipping and any other charges.
If you are stuck, or even if you are not, it is worth contacting Mike to see if he can offer you advice or assistance. His e-mail address is musicadviceservice@singbarbershop.com. Please note that this service is for BABS Members only.

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