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SecondaryMusicThe Arts

Schools, sheet music and royalties – Why teachers should make every copy count

Abigail D’Amore talks us through a new scheme to ensure that everyone gets to fully benefit from the Schools Printed Music Licence

Abigail DAmore
by Abigail DAmore
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All state secondary schools in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland automatically have a Schools Printed Music Licence (SPML). This is funded by the government and administered by Printed Music Licensing Limited, which represents print and music publishers.

The SPML is hugely helpful for schools. It enables teachers to freely copy and arrange music based on a set of straightforward terms and conditions, without having to negotiate or fund multiple licences. This means schools have constant access to a wide repertoire from a range of composers and songwriters, and can make arrangements of this music to suit the needs and abilities of their students.

A fairer system

To comply with the requirements of the licence, teachers need to report what they are copying and arranging annually. However, to date, less than 2% of schools have actually done this, making the royalty distribution system linked to the SPML neither accurate nor fair.

From a school’s perspective, this can be simply down to a lack of awareness over the conditions of the licence, a misunderstanding of what the licence allows schools to do, or perhaps most significantly, the sheer lack of time that busy music teachers have.

That’s where Every Copy Counts comes in. Every Copy Counts is a new initiative for schools that use printed music, which aims to raise awareness of the SPML’s benefits among the teaching community, and in turn, improve the quality and quantity of data being reported by schools – thus ultimately resulting in a fairer distribution system for music creators.

The initiative includes a user-friendly online portal that schools can access via everycopycounts.co.uk. This allows music teachers to quickly enter information on how they’re using printed music at a time that’s convenient for them. All teachers need to do is submit their data each year, which will then help to inform the annual royalty payment.

Added incentives

As a thank you to teachers for taking the time to report their data, the Every Copy Counts initiative is providing a range of incentives.

As soon as teachers enter their data via the online portal for the first time, a suite of free learning materials will unlock that can then be accessed at any time. These include editable PowerPoint presentations with lesson ideas for composing and songwriting activities, which have been created by teachers for teachers, alongside guides on copyright and careers.

There’s also a mixed ensemble arrangement designed for use by student bands and ensembles, a series of exclusive webinars with industry experts, and access to online teacher networking sessions for sharing practice and ideas.

Crucially, the Every Copy Counts team comprises a group of committed music educators who understand and believe in music teachers and want to help. We’re here to dispel myths about the licence, and can provide support to help schools sign up to the portal, collate and enter data.

The licence is there to make it easier for teachers to copy and arrange music. It also helps the right people get paid. Taking a small amount of time to share what you’re doing will not only give you access to useful resources, but also contribute to the larger process of supporting a fairer distribution of royalties to music creators.

How it works

1. Visit everycopycounts.co.uk, read the information and follow the link to register with the online portal

2. Enter your sheet music usage data at a time that’s convenient for you. You’ll need a record of composer/arranger; title of work; title of book; music publisher; print publisher and/or website if using digital downloads.

3. Unlock your free resources and access the various offers available from Every Copy Counts.

Abigail D’Amore is programme director at Every Copy Counts; for more information, visit everycopycounts.co.uk or follow @EveryCopyCounts

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