"Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure." ~Whitehead
If you want to arrange another musician’s song the first thing you’ll need to find out is if the song is copyrighted or if it is part of the public domain. Further details about the copyright laws and how it applies to you, the arranger, are outlined in the "additional reading" section below. For any arrangements that would require permission from the copyright there is a simple process to follow. The instructions are as follows:
1. Find the publisher’s contact information using one of the following resources:
2. Fill out this form and sign.
3. Call/Contact the publisher to confirm who you should send this form to and make sure you use the correct mailing address/email address.
4. Mail or email form to the correct person.
5. Wait for approval or denial.
* This process does not include obtaining permission to distribute, sell or record arrangements. This process is only to obtain permission to arrange a song and perform it in a non-profit setting for a specific time period. In order to distribute or sell an arrangement the form would need to be changed to reflect this purpose and you’ll need to get the royalty or fee structure from the publisher so you can include it in the form as well. Also, to record an arrangement you would need a mechanical license which can be processed through the Harry Fox Agency with royalties being paid to the copyright holder.
Additional reading on music arrangement copyright: