Hello friends! I have had about six different people asking the Spintronix page about this topic in the last two days so I want to go ahead and give you guys some real talk on this topic here as well; MUSIC LICENSING! I am not an expert by any means, but I have done a lot of research and I have chosen a music license for my independent team based on that research, and I would strongly encourage you to do your own research so you know what is required of your team. I just wish there was an easy way that someone could have spelled it out for me when I was first starting my own research.
Some websites where you can start (you can Google any of these and find them easily): ASCAP BMI MusicBed CopyCat Tresona SESAC
Some of the people are more helpful than others, some of the sites more thorough than others, and some of the licenses cover vastly different operations. For instance, if you want to have music playing in the lobby of your gymnasium where parents wait to pick their kids up from practice, and you also want to be able to play different tracks in your rehearsals (say, during dance class or to do your basics block), those are two different music licenses. Those music licenses may even need to be held by different entities depending on your situation. If you want to film your private run-throughs and then send them to your staff, volunteers, students, etc. and you also want to film your public performances to sell DVDs, those can be another two completely separate licenses.
At Spintronix, we have a custom-built dance studio license that covers all of the music we use in rehearsals, and that license is extended to cover every single Spintronix-certified instructor no matter where they are located in the U.S. It also covers all live performances of the Spintronix Indoor Guard. However, we have to file for a separate license that is specific to our show song when we want to film our shows and post them online (hence why we haven't done a lot of trying to make mixes and such yet, which many other guards do). In the dance community, the circuit is required to hold the music licenses to permit public performances, and I believe WGI does hold blanket licenses in this regard, but just know that not every single song you could possibly choose is covered under those blanket licenses. Also, not every color guard circuit in the country holds blanket licenses, so check with your circuit to see if they hold a blanket license or if they simply require each group to have their own proof of music license.
The WGI website has a really great resource if you follow this path on their site: WGI --> Color Guard --> Management --> Requirements --> Copyright They have some links to other information that will help with copyright legalities and license research. And if you find that the song you want to use is really expensive (last year we wanted to use "Sign of the Times" by Harry Styles, that license was $1200 - that ain't going to work with my hillbilly budget) don't forget that covers are an awesome option! We found that Sabrina Carpenter and Jasmine Thompson recorded a beautiful cover of that song and it was WAAAAY less!
Anyway, I hope this is helpful to all of you as you are preparing for a season of fall indoor or winter guard. And if you have more information to share or more questions, please do share! There are a lot of entities who have been nailed with copyright violations recently, all because nobody really understood the copyright rules in the first place. And like I said, I'm not any sort of be-all expert on the topic, I just realize its importance. Opening this discussion could potentially save some tails in the long run, especially when a lot of us are running smaller guards at smaller schools and couldn't afford to take a financial hit or bad press like that.