There are two forms of right associated with dramatic presentations: grand rights and small rights. We don't license grand rights but we do license small rights. A dramatic presentation is a production on the live stage that has a story and character.
Grand rights explained
This term refers to 'dramatico-musical' works and ballet where we don't control the live public performance right. A dramatico-musical work is an opera, operetta, musical play or show, revue or pantomime for which the music has been specially written. Licensing is undertaken by the appropriate rights holder.
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, music used in ballet music is considered to be a grand right use, whether or not the music was written specially for use in ballet.
This refers to music not specially written for a dramatic presentation. We control small rights where we recognise two categories of use: interpolated music and incidental music
Interpolated music is music which exists within the dramatic world of the presentation, i.e. it is either performed by or intended to be perceived by the audience as audible to a character in the drama; the music is a part of the drama.
Music that is either performed by, or audible to, a character in a drama is the kind of music which is not authorised by PRS licences held by venues. A specific licence application must be made in advance of performances, even if TheMusicLicence is already held by the venue.
To apply for this use of music, please fill out our webform request and attach the dramatic rights application form. You can find the webform here.
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' TheMusicLicence, as is music used pre-show, during any interval and post-show.
Simulcasts and 'encores'
We control 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
We license 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.
Grand right performances that we control
Rights controlled by PRS include
The public performance:
- of a dramatico-musical work or an excerpt or excerpts from a dramatico-musical work performed by means of a film made primarily for public exhibition in cinemas and similar premises
- given at the point of reception of a broadcast of a dramatico-musical work
- of a non-dramatic excerpt or excerpts from a dramatico-musical work, however performed, of up to 25 minutes duration in the course of the same programme which neither form a potted version of the work nor cover a complete act of the work
The broadcasting right
- in a dramatico-musical work or an excerpt or excerpts from a dramatico-musical work performed by means of a film made primarily for public exhibition in cinemas and similar premises
- a non-dramatic excerpt or excerpts from a dramatico-musical work, however performed, of up to 20 minutes duration in the course of the same programme which neither form a potted version of the work nor cover a complete act of the work
At an owner’s discretion we may exercise the broadcasting right in a dramatic excerpt or excerpts from a dramatico-musical works where non-dramatic excerpts from the same work appear in the same programme and the total duration of all excerpts does not exceed 20 minutes.
- an excerpt or excerpts from a dramatico-musical work the total duration of which in the course of the same programme does not exceed 25 minutes or 25% of the total length of the work whichever is shorter and which neither form a potted version of the work nor cover a complete act of the work
Any dramatico-musical work uses not covered above (including but not limited to making available online for streaming or download) require a direct licence from the applicable rights holder.
In the case of ballet, any new choreography when used with music must be approved by the rightsholder.
We license the following if the presentation is in concert fashion with no visual reference to the parent musical work/show:
- 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, if less, 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
Licensing traditional pantomimes
Although pantomime contains a dramatic story, it is an exception to the general rule. Pantomime is automatically licensed by PPL PRS and is not eligible for the 7(f) procedure.
If you need more specific information regarding dramatic presentations, please contact us.