Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Compulsory Notice Questions for Ballet CD

Dear Rich: My boyfriend and I have recorded about 30 tracks to make a ballet class CD (my boyfriend is a pianist at the city ballet). All songs on the CD are movie songs and have been previously released to the public on a sound recording such as a CD or record. He initially learned the basic melodies from sheet music, then over the years enhanced the songs with his own progressions, harmonies, may have added a little jazz improv in some of them. Since the CD is for a ballet class, he adapted the length (shortened or extended) and tempo to fit ballet class exercises. My first question is: Based on what I described above, can I take the Notice of Intention to Obtain a Compulsory License route? My second question is: In three of the tracks, my boyfriend did something unconventional -- for example, in one of the three tracks, he played 16 measures of the theme from Charade, then he played 16 measures of Chim Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins. then he ended the track by playing the same 16 measures of Charade. Would these types of formats not meet the requirements for a compulsory license? My last question is: some of these songs were from musicals, but films of these musicals were made. Should I be concerned about the songs not meeting the "non-dramatic musical work" requirement? Sorry, your reference to Charade made us search our iTunes database for our Henry Mancini tracks. What a great movie composer. We have a friend who gives us obscure Henry Mancini recordings and as much as we love Pink Panther and stuff like that, he's is so much more than that -- for example, the tracks from the Peter Gunn TV show equaled and excelled the more well known theme music.
Right, you had a question(s). Yes, you can use the compulsory notice for music that includes some improv and personal progressions. It's true that major revisions to a song require permission, but practically, publishers don't really care about what you do between the grooves provided you pay the toll (9.1 cents per track).
As for your second question. If you're using two tunes on one track, you have a few choices: you can pay both publishers 9.1 cents (again, they won't care what you're doing); you can pay only for the dominant/primary tune that you're using and hope that the other publisher doesn't hear (or care) about your "quoting" of the melody. (The other publisher is unlikely to learn of it unless the title is included in the CD notes -- for example, "Track 5: Charade/Chim-Chim-cher-ee.") And finally, you can try to negotiate with both publishers for a lower rate (probably a waste of time unless you're a major label.) We think you're probably fine with the second choice.
And your third question. The compulsory license is for nondramatic uses so your use on a CD would qualify. A dramatic use would be if you wanted a license to perform the music publicly as part of a show.