Music FAQs

The RSCDS receives many questions regarding all aspects of music, and we hope that this FAQ page will help to answer some of your queries.

If you cannot find the answer to your question, or would like to recommend a topic, please get in touch with the RSCDS office and we will pass on your query to the Music Director.

Music licensing

The RSCDS holds an umbrella music licence called TheMusicLicence, which is a joint venture between PPL and PRS that covers all UK Branches. This allows a Branch to play RSCDS recorded music via CD or a hired band in any capacity and in any venue.

For more information on music licensing please see below. 

The proprietor of a premises will normally be responsible for arranging a PRS for Music licence to cover all music use at a premises. This could be a local authority hall, hotel, pub or a community building. 

The holder of a PRS for Music licence would be responsible for paying the relevant royalty charges; although, at their own discretion, they could pass these charges on to groups hiring the premises. 

However, there are occasions where music is performed at premises and in open spaces that should not otherwise be licensed to the proprietor, or are not covered by the PRS for Music tariff applied to the premises (for example a school). We can issue a licence to a visiting group in these limited circumstances. 

If a RSCDS member is unsure whether they require a licence, please contact PRS for Music on 0800 068 4828.

Please note that PRS only covers UK related matters. For more information on Performing Rights Licence please inquire with your local society.

In the UK, a PPL licence is required for any public broadcast of recorded music, while PRS deal with live music performance.

The RSCDS takes out an umbrella licence with PPL that covers all UK Branches, which allows these Branches to play RSCDS recorded music in any venue. 

Affiliated Groups are not covered under the licence.

A PRS for Music Licence is needed when music controlled by PRS is played.

There is no statutory minimum of people required to constitute an audience. However, in some cases, PRS for Music does not charge a licence fee to workplaces with a single (lone) worker.

Music copyright 

Different countries have different rules about when it’s acceptable to use material without the copyright owner’s permission and it is therefore important to understand the basic principles surrounding copyright. If you have any questions about music copyrights please get in touch with the RSCDS.

Copyright is an automatic international right that gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the right to control the ways in which their material may be used. The rights cover broadcast and public performance, copying, adapting, issuing, renting and lending copies to the public.

In many cases, the creator will also have the right to be identified as the author and to object to derogatory treatment and distortions of his work.

The following are all subject to copyright.

  • Audiovisual works, such as TV shows, movies, and online videos
  • Sound recordings and musical compositions
  • Written works, such as lectures, articles, books, and musical compositions
  • Visual works, such as paintings, posters, and advertisements
  • Video games and computer software
  • Dramatic works, such as plays and musicals

We cannot say definitively what the rules are for the rest of the world, and encourage you to check with your local agency for more information.


The major agencies in the USA are ASCAP and BMI. Licensing information is available via their respective websites.


Please contact the local collection agencies. The major agencies in Canada are SOCAN and Re:Sound. Licensing information is available via their respective websites.


The Australian organisations APRA and AMCOS do have agreements with the UK and collect fees on behalf of the two copyright and performing rights organisations here PRS and MCPS.

A copyright can expire and enter the public domain. In addition, even if there is a copyright, the concept of fair use can limit the reach of the copyright by allowing use without consent of the copyright holder in certain, very limited contexts.

Works eventually lose their copyright protection and are said to fall into the “public domain,” making them free for everyone to use. It typically takes many years for works to fall into the public domain. The length of a term of copyright protection varies depending on where and when the work was published, whether the work was commissioned as a work for hire, and other factors. The rules for public domain differ in other countries.

It is your responsibility to verify that a work is indeed in the public domain before you upload it to social media or YouTube. There is no official list of works in the public domain. However, there are some useful resources online that might help you.

If what you recorded includes someone else's copyrighted content, such as copyrighted music playing in the background, then you would still need to get permission from the appropriate rights owners.

More importantly it is up to the musician(s) or band and the label; and bands/musicians look at the issue very differently.

YouTube gives detailed advice about uploading video recording to their site and if you plan to include copyright-protected material in your video, you’ll generally need to seek permission to do so first. YouTube cannot, and does not, grant you these rights and they are unable to assist you in finding and contacting the parties who may be able to grant them to you.

YouTube cannot grant you the rights to use content that has already been uploaded to the site. You have to contact them yourself.

However, they do offer features aimed at helping you discover what material you can incorporate into your video including:

  • An easy way to find background music or sound effects for your YouTube videos is in YouTube’s Audio Library. You can search for music that’s free for you to use.
  • The Music Policy Directory also helps you understand the Content ID policies that will be applied by music copyright owners. Depending on the policy, your video may remain live on YouTube with ads, and the revenue will be paid to the owners of the music. Learn more about Music Policies.
Publication updates

To view updated scores for music found in RSCDS books please visit the publication updates pages. If you have any questions please get in touch with the RSCDS office and we will forward on your query to the Music Director.

Publication Updates 

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