If you are putting on a theatrical production such as a play, ballet or contemporary dance performance that uses recorded music, then you may require a Dramatic Context licence to publicly perform the recorded music within your production.
PPCA Dramatic Context Licensing
A Dramatic Context licence is required where music is used to tell a story as part of a production. Music that is performed at concerts and in non-dramatic performances or productions, are often licensed under a ‘blanket licence’ from OneMusic Australia.
A Dramatic Context licence for sound recordings can be acquired directly from the copyright owners (often a record label). PPCA can assist by identifying the sound recording rights holders that the producers of the production will need to contact to arrange such licensing.
In some limited cases, PPCA can also offer a Dramatic Context licence. PPCA can offer a licence where:
- The sound recordings being used in the production are registered with participating PPCA Licensors;
- The gross estimated box office earnings for the production are below $100,000;
- The production is being held at a single location (touring productions must contact the sound recording copyright holders directly to arrange licensing); and
- The production is using no more than 3 sound recordings by the same artist or from the same album.
Application Process for a PPCA Dramatic Context Licence
To apply for a PPCA Dramatic Context licence, or for assistance with identifying sound recording copyright holders, please fill an application form and send it to our Business Affairs team at email@example.com .
If you have any questions, please email our Business Affairs team and check out our FAQs below
Frequently Asked Questions
When does a production need a Dramatic Context licence? A production may need a Dramatic Context licence if music is being used in a production where there is a storyline (with characters or a narrator), or for example, if there is a ballet.
I already have a Dramatic Context licence from APRA AMCOS or a music publisher – why do I need a licence from PPCA or a record label? A Dramatic Context licence from APRA AMCOS or a music publisher will cover the copyright in the musical works (the written lyrics and score) of the music performed in a production. However, if recorded music is being used, you will also need a licence for the copyright in the sound recording (the recorded version of the musical work). This licence can be acquired directly from the sound recording copyright holder (typically a record label) or PPCA (in some cases).
What if the music is being played live (e.g. by a live band or orchestra)? If no recorded music is being used during the production, you will not require a Dramatic Context from PPCA or the sound recording rights holder. Please note, you may still require a licence for the copyright in the musical works (the written lyrics and score). You should contact APRA AMCOS at firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire whether a licence is required.
Do I need a Dramatic Context licence for recorded music being played in the lobby or while the audience is being seated? No, music that is being played in the lobby of the venue or while the audience is being seated or leaving the premises does not require a Dramatic Context licence. This music use can be covered by a public performance licence issued by OneMusic Australia, and it is typically held by the venue.
How do I estimate gross box office earnings? Gross box office earnings should be calculated by multiplying the average ticket price with the maximum capacity of the venue for all performances. If the performance venue is subject to COVID-19 restrictions, please use the COVID-19 maximum capacity.
Do I have to get a licence from PPCA, or can I contact the copyright owners directly? All PPCA licences are granted on a non-exclusive basis, meaning you can go to the copyright holder to obtain a licence, even where PPCA can offer a licence.
Can I edit or remix a sound recording under a PPCA licence? No, PPCA licences do not cover altering sound recordings for a performance – you will need to contact the sound recording copyright holder directly for permission.