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Streaming Choral Concerts

With the COVID-19 creating chaos for chorus concerts, many choruses are pursuing creative performance options including streaming previously filmed concerts and creating Virtual Choir Performances. The information below addresses licensing for both live-streaming and re-posting a concert.

Permissions to Stream a Previously Recorded Chorus Performance

If you have previously recorded a concert and want to stream it publicly for one-time or on-going viewing be sure to review these guidelines for licensing.

Download these guidelines for licensing to stream a concert – PDF

According to copyright law: You are required by law to only post pre-recorded (as opposed to streaming live) performances (on any platform) of copyrighted music when permission has been granted by the copyright holder. Posting a recorded performance (like re-broadcasting a stream) is the same as posting anything else that is pre-recorded). Performances of music in the public domain may be posted. If you are posting or selling audio only, you need to obtain a mechanical license. If you are posting video (even if it’s just a slide show) and audio, you need to obtain a sync license. There are a number of agencies that can help with this, or you can contact the copyright holder yourself. Please note that if the copyright holder changes (for example is sold to another company), use permission can change.

YouTube has negotiated the ability for you to post certain copyrighted music with a few of the large music companies. They currently have a searchable list of the status of a number of songs that you may or may not post. This list is going away soon, but we don’t know when. We also do not know if that means they will still have the same list of allowable songs (meaning if just our ability to search the list is going away or if permission is also going away). For more information search here.

Live-Streaming Choral Concerts

Note: these guidelines below are for LIVE stream only and do NOT address re-streaming a concert.

  • There are minimal costs to LIVE stream a concert as long as your concert venue allows it and you are not charging for the live stream.
  • Venues that employ union labor for tech staff or musicians may have restrictions (or additional costs) for live-streaming, so ask.
  • You DO need to include the live stream audience when you are reporting your royalties for the concert ( ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN) and these organizations differ in their reporting requirements. Generally these additional fees are relatively minimal.
  • ASACP and BMI have different ways of calculating how the live broadcast gets included in the royalty calculation. Contact each organization where you pay your royalties if you are unsure how to calculate your payment.
  • You will need to track how many people watched and indicate that the live-stream was not a pay-for-view. As far as we know, your chorus may invite viewers to make a donation to the organization as long as they are not required to pay.

Download this guide for technical information regarding live streaming a concert.

Helpful links for additional information

Posting Covers/Licensing explained

Posting Cover Songs Legally

YouTube Terms of Service

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.

This gender-bending Pirates of Penzance was performed by One Voice Mixed Chorus in 2017 and streamed in April 2020. Download a concert program!