If you are looking for music to perform that captures the unique strengths and personality of your ensemble, then a bespoke arrangement is what you need. When you commission an arrangement, you not only get to pick which song you sing, but also get to have it tailored to the way that you want to sing it.
When you get in touch to make the commission, I'll ask you about the song: why you like it, what it means to you, which performers have inspired you with it. I'll also ask about your ensemble: what are the best ranges for the voices, what other songs you like to sing, what kind of audiences you are performing for.
I'll then arrange the song to fit your vision.
The cost for this will be between £250-£350, depending on the length/complexity of the arrangement. (Usually the lower end for a single song, the upper end for medleys, and somewhere in the middle for single songs with extra parts.) The fee includes exclusive use of the arrangement for 15 months from the date of delivery.
Before you make the commission, you need to sort out the copyright permissions. (The background on why you need to do this first is explained here, and guidance on how to go about it is given below.) I won’t accept a commission until we know you’re going to be able to use it legally!
When you have the agreement in principle from the copyright holder(s), check back with me for availability before you accept and pay for the licence(s). I've not yet had so much of a bottleneck that this has been problem since starting this system, but it's still good to check before parting with your money! Assuming there are slots available, to secure the commission you need to send me:
- A copy of the offer. This should include the copyright notice that I need to place at the bottom of the first page.
- A deposit of £50. I will invoice for the balance on delivery
Customers in the US and Canada have the option of sponsoring the arrangement into the BHS catalogue instead of gaining permissions in advance. In this case, please send the completed form for this instead of the offer, and I will forward it to the BHS with the completed chart for you.
In all cases, it's worth talking to me about artistic issues such as whether your chosen songs are suitable for the purpose you want them for before applying for the permissions. This is particularly the case for barbershop groups wanting contest material.
How to Obtain your Permissions
This guidance is for UK customers only. The process will be similar in other countries, though the organisations involved will be different.
- First find out the copyright holder. Be aware that these can change as catalogues are bought and sold, so rather than rely on what’s printed on the sheet music, it’s best to check with the Performing Rights Society for the current holder(s): email@example.com
- Contact the copyright holder(s) to ask for permission for a new arrangement of the song. Tell them the voicing (male/female/mixed, number of parts, a cappella), the number of copies you’ll need for your ensemble, and the name of the arranger – i.e. Liz Garnett.
Note that many of the smaller publishers outsource the administration of these rights to other companies. There is some information about this on the LABBS website, though it is not entirely up to date (things do keep changing!). MusicSales, Hal Leonard and Faber Music are the three biggest administrators, and the latter two allow you to submit requests via their websites.
- They will tell you the cost of the licence and any other conditions attached to it. If you are happy with these, then you are ready to forward the offer to me to make the commission. This means you can make sure I will be able to fulfil the commission before you need to pay the copyright holder for the licence! Most publishers ask for a copy of the arrangement as a condition of the licence, so I will forward this to them at the same time as I deliver it to you.
The whole process is not hard, though it sometimes takes some persistence to find the right person to contact and to follow up a request. The quickest turn-around I have had is 3 days, and the longest 10 months. More information is available on the BABS and LABBS websites.