Am I allowed to sell sheet music?

Introduction

If you want to sell your own scores there are a few important rules you have to abide by. In this article, we're going to go over the specifics and you'll get a view of what is allowed and what isn't. In the end you should know whether you can sell your sheet music online.

Diederik Mathijs
16 Feb 2020. 2 min read
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Why is it important to abide by the rules?

This goes without saying but knowing for sure that you're allowed to sell sheet music online is important. While some may take the risk of putting arrangements online without prior notice to the original composer they may end up within a lawsuit. That's why it's important to carefully read through all the information we gathered for you in this article. Once you're finished reading the article and you're sure you can sell your sheet music, be sure to read this article which will help you get started selling your sheet music.

Overview

  1. Sell your own composition
  2. Sell the arrangement of a public domain song
  3. Sell the arrangement of an existing song
  4. You're a publisher that want to sell sheet music of composers

1. Sell your own composition

This may be the most obvious one but if you're the composer of the piece of sheet music then, of course, your free to sell it. It's perfectly legal to sell your own music scores. It's not like Beethoven had to ask permissions to play his own songs 😉.

2. Sell the arrangement of a public domain song

If the song is a public domain song you can arrange the music and sell it. Your arrangement should be different from other arrangements that have been made for that particular song. For example, if you're arranging a cello suite of Bach than you're allowed to sell your own version of the score. If you're wondering if a song is a public domain, ask yourself the question: 'has the original composer of the song been dead for more than 60 years?'. If the answer is yes, you can arrange and sell music.

3. Sell the arrangement of an existing song

If you're arranging a song that is not part of the public domain then you should know that you need the written permission of the copyright holders. If you've received the permission of the original composer to arrange and sell it than it is perfectly legal to sell it online. Usually, this will mean that you'll have to split the profits of your arrangement with the original composer. For example, if you want to sell your own version of a song by Ed Sheeran then you would need to contact him or any of his representatives and ask for permission to sell the sheets. If they agree they will probably require a small payment per sheet sold. If you've accepted their terms and they have given you their final approval and permission, you're ready to start selling your arrangement.

4. You're a publisher that wants to sell sheet music of composers

If you're a publisher then you've probably made or are about to make contracts with several composers. If these contracts allow you to sell the sheet music then it's perfectly legal to sell the sheet online.

Conclusion

That's it, you're all set! You can now start selling your own sheet music! If you have any recommendations or questions always feel free to send them to info@tablatur.com, I'll be glad to answer them. If you want you can also read this article that helps you get started selling sheet music on tablatur.com.

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