General Questions

What problem does School Music License solve?

Music today extends into almost every aspect of a K-12 public and private school. Music means much more than physical sheet music. Concert performances are streamed online. Recordings are essential to a gymnastics meet or dance recital. Music is integral to a school’s culture, from pep rallies to a football or basketball game, to a school dance. Virtually every activity or event taking place at your school uses music in some way. School Music License makes it easy to be sure you are recording and streaming music legally. 

Enter School Music License, LLC. 

We are a partnership of a leading music education resource and repertoire publisher, GIA Publications, Inc., working together with the premier music publishers and record labels to solve a significant problem that has exploded in the digital age. School Music License is a simple, affordable, sustainable solution to provide convenient annual licenses for K-12 schools in the United States wishing to showcase their music programs, and so much more. 

We provide equitable pricing that aligns with total school enrollment and grade level. Interested in a Group License to cover your entire school district or regional area? Discounts are available! For current pricing and to learn more about our licensing options, visit our Options & Prices page.

Our goal is simple: to help you do more with the music you love!

What licenses are available from School Music License?

School Music License offers two license types to help you do more at your school with the music you love.

  • Our Annual Basic License allows you to stream or archive live performances of any included songs: school band, choir, orchestra, and glee club concert performances, marching band performances, dance recitals, pep rallies, and so much more! Wherever live school musicians are playing included repertoire that you want to share online, this license can help! Also included with the Annual Basic License is the ability to reprint song lyrics in song programs books.
  • Add a Master Recording Bundle if you wish to include approved recorded music masters in your videos and streams. This add-on license is a great option for those who include streams of master tracks for dance recitals, gymnastics meets, poms and cheer performances, and more! 

School Music License includes an unparalleled selection of music. Search our website to see if the songs you wish to use are covered!

We are much more than just a license for your school music programs. Recording and streaming school sporting events, arts programs, dance recitals, pep rallies, and more can be shared under our licenses! Even recordings and streams of off-site local performances by student groups are covered, including community events, parades, and more.

How do I know if a song is covered by School Music License?

A song is covered for use by School Music License if: 

  1. The copyright holder / Member Publisher is a part of our service. 
  2. The song is listed in the online searchable catalog. 
  3. The song is approved for the specific license your organization holds. 

You can search titles here to verify if the title is covered by our Annual Basic License or our Master Recording Bundle.

What can I reprint / reproduce? What is excluded?

Our Annual Basic License includes the right to reprint / reproduce the lyrics of any song approved by us in your school program. This can be especially helpful for choir programs that wish to include lyrics in a printed program, as a subtitle, or displayed online.

Note that sheet music (i.e., printed music) for choirs, accompanists, and instrumentalists is not covered by our license and must be secured directly from the copyright holder or publisher. Additionally, School Music License does not cover sheet music or printed music licenses for arrangements.

Also note that our licenses are strictly noncommercial. Any commercial sales of videos or streams are not covered by our license. Commercial or for-profit uses require express consent and licensing from the copyright holder of the work(s).

I have a license with ASCAP or BMI. How is School Music License different?

School Music License offers a comprehensive license specifically tailored for K-12 schools and includes use cases for music that is not available under licenses with ASCAP, BMI, or other Performance Rights Organizations (PROs).

For example, ASCAP and BMI are not able to grant rights to record and archive a video of a performance containing music. Those rights come from the music publishers who work with School Music License; they are the copyright holders of the music. 

The recording of a musical performance and streaming of the musical performance on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat requires both PRO licenses and one or more music publisher licenses under U.S. copyright law. The good news is that those five social media companies already have licenses in place with the PROs such as ASCAP and BMI. So, if you are showcasing videos to those five platforms, all you would need are music publisher (i.e., copyright holder) licenses — these are the licenses provided by School Music License.

Schools DO need PRO licenses if they plan to host videos of musical performances on their own school websites, in addition to licenses (such as a license with School Music License) from the music publisher(s) who hold the copyright to the music composed or the song and lyrics written. 

The bottom line is that School Music License fills an important gap in music copyright licensing for schools, allowing schools to record and stream performances that include copyrighted music, or to print or project song lyrics.

Does School Music License include the right to create custom arrangements of songs?

School Music License includes the right to stream a custom arrangement of a song or use the lyrics for the song from our approved list. However, the right to create or print the notation of a custom arrangement in the first place still remains with the copyright owner or their agent. Tresóna Music is one company that grants the right to create and print custom lyrics on behalf of many copyright owners.

I am hoping to stream a school musical or play. Does School Music License cover those permissions?

These so-called “Grand Rights,” which cover plays or musicals more than 20 minutes long, have streaming rights which are easily obtained from the agencies that license plays and musicals to schools. Therefore, School Music License does not cover Grand Rights. Please contact the administrator of those rights directly to get the streaming permissions you need.

How is the license priced?

We provide equitable pricing that aligns with total school enrollment and grade level. License prices are listed for individual schools. Note that licenses cannot be shared unless the organization is established as a Group License.

The Annual Basic License is priced based on your specific school’s enrollment and whether you are an Elementary School, K-8 / Middle / Junior High school, High School, or K-12 School. 

The Master Recording Bundle is an add-on that requires the purchase of the Annual Basic License, and it is also scaled based on the enrollment and grade levels of the students served by your school.

Interested in a Group License to cover your entire school district or regional area? Options are also available for these umbrella-style organizations, including significant discounts for full district licensing. Contact our team!

What is the best way to pay for my School Music License?

Music is used everywhere in a school. Performances are streamed by music ensembles, at sporting events, at talent shows, and so much more. Music performances are not just taking place in music concerts. That is why we strongly believe that our license should be paid for out of a school administration budget, not a more limited music budget. 

Please share information about School Music License with your school principal or administrators. And school Boosters can help! Never before has a license like School Music License been offered to schools. At School Music License, we have worked hard to keep the price of our license affordable—it’s a win-win! Showcase all of the great music taking place in your school, affordably and worry free! Recruit more students to your programs! Involve parents, grandparents, and the community. And be proud of all that you are doing!

Can the videos and streams be hosted on any platform?

Videos and streams can be hosted on your school’s own website or on any of these major platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and even your school’s own website. Other platforms are not covered by a School Music License, including Twitter and Vimeo.

How do I report songs?

Reporting is easy via our online tools and ensures composers and artists are compensated for their music. License Holders are required to report the music streamed or recorded under the license. For more information, you can view our tutorial videos on reporting or visit our blog to learn more.

How often do I report songs?

Prompt reporting ensures royalties are properly distributed to the Publishers and Artists who create the wonderful music we use. Writers, Composers, Artists, Publishers, and Record Labels depend on consistent reporting for their income. License Holders are asked to report all of the music reprinted under their license, and our online reporting tools make reporting convenient and easy. We ask that you report what is used on a weekly basis. If the license is only being used a few times a year, we encourage you to make reporting part of your planning process, or as a final step while putting together your program. For more information, visit our blog to learn about usage reporting.

What happens if I have nothing to report?

From the “Report Usage” page, click on the box next to the applicable week when you have nothing to report, scroll down, click on the drop-down menu on the left side of the screen, and look for “Mark as Nothing to Report.” Click on “Apply” and you are all set. Indicating that you have nothing to report is a helpful tool for your own reporting records, and you will not receive automated system reminders to report.

How will I know if new Publishers or Labels are covered under the License?

Our database is updated regularly. Search for a song right on the School Music License home page. If a song is not listed, it is not currently a part of the service. We also provide Member Publisher updates in our monthly educational newsletter. To subscribe, email us at info@schoolmusiclicense.com.

What is the legality of changing lyrics to songs?

Please contact the appropriate copyright owner directly to request permission to change lyrics.

How can I tell if a text, melody, or harmonization is in the public domain (i.e., free to use without permission)?

If you are planning to use a song, look for the copyright notice on the commercially published copy of the work. Public domain pieces will usually not include any claim of copyright on the page, either at the top or bottom of the piece of music.

When a text or music is under copyright, the copyright owner states their claim through the three-part notice: © (year) (name of copyright holder). 

Also examine the dates attached to the composer or text author names. As an example, for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the lyrics are by Francis Scott Key, 1779–1843; and the tune is attributed to John Stafford Smith, 1750–1836. Since both individuals died more than seventy years ago, it is a relatively firm conclusion that words and music are in the public domain.

However, you also need to see if any other information follows the composer’s name. For example, the music shows, “Arrangement, John Doe, 1998,” along with “© 1998, ABC Music Co.” This indicates there is a claim to copyright on this piece, but that copyright only applies to the arrangement. Therefore, if any aspect of a piece is under copyright, you would still need a license to stream a video performance of that work.

To summarize: If there is no claim to copyright on the printed page or in the front or back of the particular collection or work, then it is reasonably safe to assume that the work is in the public domain. Words like “Traditional,” “African American Spiritual,” or “Irish Folk Song” also imply that a piece is in the public domain.

How should the copyright line appear in my stream?

Keep the following graphic handy as a reminder for how to display your copyright and licensing permissions.

How long can my posted / streamed videos be available or archived for?

As long as your license is in force, you are permitted to keep posted videos available for future viewing. This allows your school to archive past performances for future enjoyment by alumni and their families. If your license is canceled, you no longer have permission to archive videos or programs posted online. In that case, all video recordings and streams created and archived under the license must be removed.

Does School Music License grant me the right to manipulate copyrighted music with Artificial Intelligence?

No, School Music License does not grant the right to manipulate copyrighted songs using Artificial Intelligence.

How do I cancel my license?

When you receive your next renewal notice, you will have the option to cancel your license. This means you will no longer have permission to archive videos or programs posted online. All video recordings and streams created and archived under the license must be removed to move forward with the cancellation.  Should you need to cancel your license at a different time, please contact the School Music License team at info@schoolmusicliense.com to learn about your options.

How do I change the size or type of my school?

Our team can help you adjust your enrollment numbers and license categories. Please contact us at info@schoolmusiclicense.com.

More about the Master Recording Bundle

What is a Master Recording?

We consider a master recording for licensing purposes to be any musical audio-only recording you obtain from a musical source, including iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, or Apple Music. This is different from a live recording made at your school by students.

Does the Master Recording Bundle require that my school also have the Annual Basic License?

Yes! The use of a master recording includes multiple rights that are covered under the basic license; therefore, the Annual Basic License is required if your school also wants to use the Master Recording Bundle.

If you already have an Annual Basic License and wish to add the Master Recording Bundle, the cost of adding this license will be prorated to expire the same time as your Annual Basic License.

What is included with a Master Recording Bundle?

When a commercial track is captured or incorporated into a video of a performance, such as a dance recital, gymnastics performance, or prelude music before a streamed concert or a glee club performance, you would need the Master Recording Bundle. To confirm that a title is covered for Master Recording Bundle use, you can search for the title in our database in advance.

Is the list of included songs the same between the Annual Basic License and the Master Recording Bundle?

No, and this is because each license grants a specific set of rights. Always check the current list via our website’s search tools to confirm whether or not a title is approved for use. Note that any publisher or record label always reserves the right to make a single title unavailable for a certain license type, depending on the permissions of that given title.

What is NOT included by the Master Recording Bundle?
  • Any commercial uses of a master (for sale) is not covered.
  • Any reproductions of a master track for distribution is not covered.
  • Audio-only streams (without video) are also not covered. For example, our license may not be used to start an audio competitor of Spotify.
Where do I get my master tracks?

As long as the song is covered, you can get the master from any legitimate source available. School Music License does not provide master tracks on our platform. School Music License gives your school permission to use the master tracks you obtain on your own for the covered purposes.

Who do I contact with questions?

Our License Holder Support Team is happy to help! The best way to contact us is by clicking here.