How to rent music for your student recital or concert

Submitted by shawreb on
Karen Wiseman, Performance Collection

Have you been in a situation where a piece you would like to perform is only available as a rental? It may take a few extra steps to get the music, but the music can be ordered and delivered to you.  

Music that is still under copyright may be available directly from the composer, publisher, or a distributor. While searching online, if you discover the piece is only available as a rental, contact them by email, or visit the rental website and complete and submit the form for a quote. Large North American rental agencies include Boosey & Hawkes, Canadian Music Centre, Counterpoint Musical Services, Edition Peters, European American Music, Theodore Presser, and G. Schirmer.   

Be prepared to answer some questions about the piece you want to perform. Here are some frequently asked questions once you have found the correct title and composer/arranger/editor of your piece:

  • What is your performance date(s)? 
  • Where is the venue? 
  • Who is the conductor, soloist, and ensemble? 
  • Is the complete work being performed? 
  • Does your instrumentation include strings, if so, what is your required string count? 
  • Do you want additional parts such as an extra full score? 
  • Can you only request printed score and parts or are pdfs available? 
  • What date do you need the music to start rehearsals? 
  • What is your shipping address and your contact information? 

Here are some other performance and recording details to consider before placing your order.  And yes, an additional cost is added for these options. Copyrighted rental music does not always include the right to perform.  However, student performances at the Faculty of Music are covered by a blanket license under SOCAN (The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada). Music in the public domain does not require a performance license. 

  • Will the performance have a radio broadcast or TV broadcast? Recordings require a separate mechanical license.   
  • Will there be internet streaming, (live, delayed or on demand)? 
  • Will an audio recording, audio-visual recording, private recording, commercial recording, or archival recording copy be made? 
  • Will an LP/CD, DVD, or Download (live, delayed or on demand via the internet) be made?

Finally, have your credit card ready; you will be charged a rental fee plus shipping. Remember to mention that it is a student performance as you may be eligible for a reduced rental rate. You are now good to go and ready to place your order. Remember to order early as many publishers charge an extra fee for rush orders. An average loan period is 6-10 weeks before the performance date. After you have completed, signed the rental contract, and paid, the music will be delivered to your door. 

After your performance, returning the music is straightforward: collect and package the music. It is recommended to courier the music back to the publisher so you can track the parcel. And remember to include your program! 

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