Bespoke Arrangements

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.

The Admin

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!

Increasing numbers of songs can be licensed through ArrangeMe/Sheet Music Plus, which is generally cheaper and always much quicker than getting an individual licence. It does mean you don't get an exclusivity period with the chart (it's against their terms) but I won't promote the arrangement for the first 15 months after delivery. It's usually still the best bet if available. A few songs, and all medleys, however, need licensing direct from the copyright holder, and there is some guidance on that below.

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, 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

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.

  1. First check with me whether the song is available through the Sheet Music Plus ArrangeMe progamme. If it is, I can deliver the arrangement through them and your copies will be ready licensed. Note that they only licence single-song arrangements, not medleys
  2. If it isn't, you'll need to find out the copyright holder. Be aware that these can change as catalogues are bought and sold, so unless you are consulting very recently produced sheet music, it's a good idea to check with the Performing Rights Society for the current holder(s):
  3. 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. Hal Leonard Europe (formerly MusicSales) and Faber Music are the two biggest administrators in the UK, and in many cases will cover the EU as well as the UK.

  4. 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 fulfill 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.