Legalizing Your Music

All arrangements need to be “legalized”, “cleared”, or “licensed” by the publisher that controls the music. The terms “legalized”, “cleared”, or “licensed” are often used interchangeably, but here are the correct definitions:

A publisher licenses an arranger to create a derivative work (an arrangement) of a song the publisher controls.
When the terms of the license are met with adherence to all the terms and conditions of the license, and all fees are properly paid and copyright notices are placed on the music and verified, the arrangement is considered “cleared” or “legalized” for use by the performer. So an arrangement that has been properly cleared is legal. And the license is the document that defines the process of clearance for legalization.

 Sometimes the publisher is the composer; an arranger can also act as composer and as publisher depending on the nature of his work. But mostly, the publisher will represent a composer’s body of work. Some songs have multiple publishers: one for the composer, and perhaps another for the lyricist.

The arranger typically has a special role in this process. The arranger is asking permission of the composer through the publisher to make a “derivative” work or “arrangement” of a given song. The publisher does NOT have to grant permission but most *do* grant permission as a common practice. They will charge a fee for initiating a clearance licensing contract and then a “per copy” fee for the number of copies to be distributed to the performing group. With a quartet, the number of copies provided is usually 5 copies and with a chorus it can be any where from 6 to 200 depending on the size of the group.

GSB Medal Music Inc is a company that represents and legally controls the arrangements and original composition work of Jay Giallombardo. GSB Medal has worked with lots of publishers to procure licensing for Jay’s original works as well as his arrangements of other composers’ songs.  GSBMM knows the process well, and we have a good relationship with the major publishing houses. For a small fee ($20), GSB Medal Music will undertake the clearance process for you. Often we can get a quick response within 1-2 weeks. But it can take up to a couple of months sometimes. This occurs when an obscure song that the publisher controls is not fully updated in their files. They often have to revisit their own relationship with a composer, before proceeding with a permission request for an arrangement.. A song can often change publishers, or the writer(s) dies, and the song is split amongst heirs. Needless to say it can get very complicated.  So, we request that you allow 30-60 days for the clearance process, before any public performance event, just to be on the safe side of the law.

When you purchase an arrangement from GSB Medal Music, you do not own the music; you are paying for the arrangement services of Jay Giallombardo, arranger.  The original song belongs to the copyright holder, administered by the publisher who licenses the specific arranger of the song. You have a right by this license to hold the printed music (i.e. the arrangement) as well as perform it in shows and/or contests. Print Rights are usually controlled by publishers. So the fees you pay are the process fee, arrangement fee, a clearance fees, publisher administration fees, and per copy fee(s).

Sometimes a publisher will establish a longer term relationship with GSB Medal Music. In this instance, after we have “cleared” an arrangement, the publisher requires that we only account for additional copies. Under this approach, our customers would pay the arrangement fee plus the per copy fee, but the other administrative fees are waived. We try to establish this kind of contract with all Jay’s arrangements but only the publisher can give permission for this kind of agreement. If the arrangement falls under this category, it will be savings to you, the customer, and we can get you the “cleared” music much faster; if not, then you will be responsible for administrative costs of initiating the “licensing” as well.

When an arranger does an arrangement of a song that is in the “public domain”, the arranger can become also the publisher of that arrangement. That arrangement can be copyrighted by the arranger as an original work. The arrangement is then treated like an original song in regards to publisher’s rights and permission for licensing. Many arrangements by Jay Giallombardo are of songs in the public domain. GSB Medal Music, Inc. controls these arrangements, and proper clearance must be sought directly from GSB Medal Music to clear these particular arrangements. When you request and arrangement from us, we will inform you of your obligations for proper “licensing.”. However, licensing is ultimately the responsibility of the costumer.

For quartets, the clearance fee usually provides the quartet the first 5 copies. We have typically found this cost to be about $35-45 to the publisher. For example**, a 50-voice chorus might request an arrangement, asking for 60 copies (the additional copies for anticipated growth and guest books,etc.).  The “legalization” fees that might be incurred are as follows:

$20 - GSB Medal Music Clearance Process*
$75 - GSB Medal Music Arrangement Service Fee
$40 - Publisher Licensing Fee (avg cost) for first 5 copies *
$5   - Publisher Administrative Fee *
$60 - Publisher per Copy Fee (65-5 = 60 copies @ $1/copy   )


When you request an an arrangement, please contact us to inquire about clearance for your arrangements. “Legalization” is the ultimate responsibility of the customer. You will be apprised of all procedures and associated costs. When completed, you will have legal music for show and contest. We are happy to help and to answer any of your questions.

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* Fees may be waived depending on Publisher agreement
** This example for explanation purposes only