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Theatre: dramatic presentations, grand right & small right 

A dramatic presentation is a production on the live stage that has a story and character.

There are two forms of right associated with dramatic presentations: grand right and small right. PRS for Music does not license grand rights but we do license small rights, where our Tariff T (Theatrical Presentations) is applicable.

Grand right

This term refers to "dramatico-musical" works and ballet, the live public performance right in which is not controlled by PRS for Music. Licensing is undertaken by the appropriate rights holder.

A dramatico-musical work is an opera, musical play/show, revue or pantomime for which the music has been specially written.

Cinematic musicals such as Mary Poppins are classed as dramatico-musical works when adapted for the stage. Narrative concept albums such as The Who's 'Tommy' or Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' are viewed in the same way.

Individual works specially written for plays and other dramatic presentations that are not themselves dramatico-musical works (i.e. a straight play) are not controlled by PRS for Music when performed in conjunction with the work for which they were written.

Ballet is defined as a choreographic work having a story, plot or abstract idea devised or used for the purpose of interpretation by dancing and/or miming. Unlike dramatico-musical works, ballet music is considered to have a grand right whether or not the music was written specially.

Small right

This refers to music not specially written for a dramatic presentation. Small rights are controlled by PRS for Music.

We recognise two categories of use: interpolated music and incidental music.

Interpolated music

Music that is either performed by, or audible to, a character in a drama. This kind of music is not authorised by PRS licences held by venues and so a specific licence application must be made in advance of performances, even if a standard PRS for Music licence is already held. Application forms are available on request from dramaticapplications@prsformusic.com.

Royalties resulting from interpolated music performances are charged directly to the applicant, usually the producing/performing party.

7(f) Notice: Members may opt to license direct for the use of their works as interpolated music by requesting a 7(f) Notice and we refer as many applications as we can to the publishers concerned for this option to be considered.

Incidental music

Music which is not audible to a character in a drama, such as music used for transitions and scene-changes, etc. Incidental music is automatically covered by venues' PRS for Music licences, as is music used pre-show, during any interval and post-show.

Simulcasts and 'encores'

PRS for Music controls the public performance given at the point of reception of simulcasts (where a live event is broadcast live to other venues) and 'encores' (the screening of recordings of live events). Please note that grand rights do not apply to public screenings of dramatico-musical works and ballet, whether simulcasts or 'encores'.

Songs from shows

PRS for Music licenses the non-dramatic* use of up to 25 minutes duration of material from any one show in the same programme as long as the use does not constitute a condensed version, nor covers an entire act, of the parent show.

*For a performance to be considered non-dramatic in this context, it must not be visually suggestive of the parent show, for example through the use of costume, characterisation, choreography, props, scenic effect, etc; singularly or in combination.

Dramatic use/condensed version/entire act uses are licensable by the appropriate rightsholder as a grand right use. 

Are there any grand right performances that PRS for Music does control?

Yes. There are three instances where PRS for Music will license the performance of a work that is subject to grand rights:

  • Film performances - All film performances of dramatic presentations are always controlled by us, whether the performance takes place in public at a cinema, by video projection or on television, and whether or not small or grand rights apply.
  • Television performances of ballet - we will license presentations of ballet on television for up to five minutes in duration
  • Documentary programmes - Members may ask us to license dramatic excerpts from a ballet or dramatic work broadcast in a documentary that have a total duration of 20 minutes or less, as long as the excerpts are all from the same work.

It is possible to have a small rights performance of a work from a grand right presentation, for example a song from a musical may be performed on the radio or in a live concert with no visual reference to the original show. This would be a small rights performance and therefore would be controlled by us.

Are non-dramatic* presentations of grand right works controlled by PRS for Music?

Yes. PRS licences:

  • Public performances of all non-dramatic* excerpts of grand rights works that are not longer than 25 minutes, and are not complete acts from, or potted versions of, the show.
  • TV broadcasts of all non-dramatic* excerpts of grand rights works that are not longer than 20 minutes, and are not complete acts from or potted versions of the show
  • Radio broadcasts of all non-dramatic* excerpts of grand rights works that are not longer than 25 minutes or 25% of the total duration of the work and are not complete acts from, or potted versions of, the show
  • All ballet music where there is no dancing

*In all cases, only if the presentation is in concert fashion with no visual reference to the parent musical work/show

Does PRS for Music license traditional pantomime?

Yes. Although pantomime contains a dramatic story, it is an exception to the general rule as outlined in this leaflet. Pantomime is automatically licensed by us and is not eligible for the 7(f) procedure.

Need further information?

If you require more specific information regarding dramatic presentations, please contact us.

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