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I'm an amateur musician and I run a saxophone quartet comprising 3 other amateur players. We have a modest repertoire of around 60 titles at the moment, all of which we have bought from retail suppliers, some locally, but mostly from the Internet. We have no photocopied or pirated music.

Up to now we've only played for our frends who've worked in places like residential homes for the elderly and wanted a bit of live music for their residents, or friends who've organised village hall events and want a musical interlude. We've always done these free of charge or at most for a free lunch, (yes there is such a thing!!!), and a cup of tea.

We've never paid too much attention to our legal position on these small informal engagements, though it's always been at the back of my mind, because most of them have been in private rather than public premises.

However, people are getting to know us and we've started to get requests to do wedding receptions and other more formal engagements in the pubilc domain. I'd love to take these on, but we'd have to charge for our services I guess, or at the very least do them for expenses only payment, but I have no idea about our legal position.

So the question is, would it be legal for a group of amatuer musicians to charge a fee to play live music in a public place being hired for the purpose by a private individual or organisation? Any advice on where I can find chapter and verse on this would be welcome.
 

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Peter I have done what you have descibed over the years i.e. playing for weddings, parties, clubs etc etc. I'm not sure what legal issues you are thinking about. I certainly have never come across any. From a royalties point of view this is down to the venue, they will need a PRS (Performing Rights Society) licence not you. In some venues like Town Halls you may be required to complete a list of the numbers and who wrote them but no more than that.

If you have income from this you would need to declare it to the tax man - of course.

If you have anything specific to ask please do.
 

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That's very encouraging, thanks. My problem is that I'm so ignorant of the rules in this area that I don't know what questions I should be asking!! I'm just worried that if we start accepting paid engagements in the public domain, some jobsworth in a grey suit is going to come up and throw a book of rules at us, and of course....."Sorry Y'r Honour, we didn't know the rules" doesn't wash. It hadn't occurred to me that it's the organiser's responsibility to take care of the legalities and not ours, that's interesting. Is this laid out somewhere for people like me to read up on?
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Is this laid out somewhere for people like me to read up on?
Probably not, (apart from within the pages of the MU handbook or website) but unless you are organising the event, the licence is not your responsibility as others have said. Your only responsibility is to list the tunes (and composers) or fill in the form when requested to do so by the promoter.

You need a license to record copyright tunes, and this is available from MCPS. They are usually quite good at giving advice on the phone also.
 

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I play in a cover R&B review band regularly including opening for name acts on some pretty big stages. We have never even been asked to provide a set list. This does not mean you won't be - but it's not very likely from my limited experience. We've been at it for a number of years with no issues or even questions.
 

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Yes, the only time I have had to do it is when I played in Town Halls or other Civic buildings. 99% of the time no issues. As Pete said its a different matter if your recording other peoples music, then royalties are due, quite rightly.
 
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