Music Library

General rules for clearing sheet music

All sheet music owned by the chorus shall be controlled and cleared. To keep track a database/library file is preferable. The repertoire usually consists of a number of different songs:

  • Original barbershop arrangements of American songs
  • “Modern” songs in barbershop arrangements
  • Christmas songs – Nordic and English
  • Traditional ballads

How to clear the rights varies for different songs, but you can usually find a lot of the information needed on the sheet music. They should contain information about the composer, lyricist and arranger as well as who owns the copyrights. Each song should have the composer(s) and lyricist(s) noted, as well as the arranger of the song. On the first page you should also find who owns the copyright of the specific song.

Below a general description on how to proceed in Sweden. The process may differ slightly for the other Nordic countries. To find out the correct procedure for your country please contact the appropriate performing rights society:

  • Sweden (STIM): Ph. +46 8 783 88 00
  • Denmark (KODA): Ph. +45 33306380
  • Finland (TEOSTO), Finnish Composers' Copyright Society Teosto: Ph.+358 9 681 011
  • Norway (TONO): Ph. +47 22 05 72 00
  • Iceland (STEF), Performing Rights Society of Iceland: Ph. +354 561-6173

Always start by contacting STIM, Svenska tonsättares internationella musikbyrå, and check out what applies regarding the rights. They have listed basically all songs that are published either in Sweden or abroad. When you find out the publishing company which owns the copyright, contact them and inquire about what applies in this case. You should ask for the right to copy the music in X number.

Some publishers do not accept you doing the copying but you may buy an original copy for each member of the chorus. This usually applies to Swedish publishers and traditional arrangements.

Clearing traditional (Christmas) songs

Find out the publisher(s) which own(s) the copyrights for this specific song.

Many old Christmas songs are free and traditional (public domain), meaning that you do not need to have any permission to copy them. Provide the original sheet music with a header saying:

Belongs to ”The name of your chorus”, The chorus member name, TRADITIONAL

In your music library you note the word Traditional under publisher owning copyrights in Sweden and abroad. Then it is OK to copy the number of copies needed.

(Christmas) songs that are not free or traditional:

After having checked with STIM and found out the publishers involved you contact the publisher(s) and ask what is required to obtain permission to copy the song and use for learning. Please note that it is good to mention to the publisher that the sheet music will not be used at any performance and thus shown publicly (if that is what you are planning), only when learning the song. Traditional Swedish choirs usually have their sheet music in front of each choir member when performing songs in churches etc. That requires specific permissions.

When you have cleared the use with the publisher and received permission to copy the music you must note the permission data on the music and provide the sheet with a header noting the following:

Belongs to ”The name of your chorus”, Name of the chorus member

Note the copyright text requested by the publisher at the bottom of the sheet and “copied by permission of “The name of the publisher”. Sometimes there is quite a lot of additional data to note on the original, requiring a bit of tweaking to get all text in place. This is especially the case if more than one publisher is involved. Make copies of the proper amount of copies for which you have received permission plus the evidence specimen. Send a confirmation letter with invoice instructions to the publisher(s). Save the original sheet music together with all permits and corresponding letters in your music library. Enter all the data in your sheet music directory to easily check the records for future reporting to STIM and possibly to N©B. Find out the proper publisher(s) owning the copyright(s) to this work.

Barbershop arrangements of foreign songs

Contact STIM to find out the copyright owning publisher(s) to the work.

Even if the song is not originally Swedish it is usually published with a publisher, having an office or a section in Sweden/The Nordic Countries to collect fees for copied sheet music. Note what applies regarding copying fees.

Copying Fee or Per Copy Fee?

Payment for copying must sometimes be made to the Swedish publisher (=copying fee) and sometimes to the foreign publisher (= per copy fee).

When to pay and whereto?

If the chorus buys an arrangement from e.g. USA and receives one original per member – each member gets her own original copy – the chorus pays for both the arrangement and per copy fee to the US.

If one original only, or an electronic copy, is sent from the US, with permission to make copies in X amount in Sweden, the chorus pays for the actual arrangement and the purchase of one copy to the US, whereas the actual copying fee is paid to the Nordic publisher.

According to law a publisher can only request fees for copying performed within the country limits.

Copy the amount you have received permission for plus the evidence specimen. Send a confirmation letter with invoice instructions to the publisher(s). Save the original music together with all permissions and accompanying letters in your music library. Enter all the data in your music library directory, so that you can easily match the data in future reports to STIM and possibly to N©B.

Songs arranged in barbershop style

When someone arranges a song in barbershop style the arranger must ensure that proper authorization is sought. As it happens the arranger has not always done so and therefore you, being responsible for the music library, must find out what applies in each case.

Do as usual:

Contact STIM and find out the copyright owning publisher and find out the publisher(s) owning the copyright(s) of this specific work.

Contact the publisher(s) and find out what applies in each case. Ask for the right to copy the arrangement in X number. If the arranger has done what is required, the publisher should already have an authorized edition of the arrangement and what is needed is merely the copying fee for you. If the arranger has not obtained proper authorization the publisher may demand to go through the arrangement first before considering granting any permission whatsoever. After such a review the chorus may seek permission to copy. The arrangement will then be noted at the publishing company with the name of the arranger which makes it possible for the arranger to receive STIM royalties, when you perform the arrangement and report to STIM.

Reporting to STIM and N©b

Every public performance must be reported. In Sweden this is done monthly via STIM’s web service. If the chorus/quartet arrange their own shows and concerts a music license is also required.

The following is a rough translation of a text in Swedish derived from the STIM website :

To play music in public you need a permission - a music license from STIM.

What is a public performance of music?

A public performance is when the public is able to hear the music. Music played in your home or within your private circle of friends does not count. Examples of public performances are dance events, concerts, music in hotel rooms via television or radio, music in stores/sales venues, background music at a restaurant from e.g. a radio or TV broadcast with music, or music on the Internet.

Also when music is played within an association, company or authority is a public performance. A few examples: dancing in connection with the association's annual general meeting, radio broadcasting on the club premises, pub night or slideshow viewing at the company.

Who should seek permission?

Whoever is responsible for providing the music, such as e.g. a retail store, hotel, restaurant owner, concert promoter, association or club must obtain a music license from STIM. This can be a legal entity (company, association) as well as an individual.

Permission is also needed for those who record music and produce copies of the recording(s), as well as for those who make movie, video, television or multimedia productions containing music.

Danish rules:
Finnish rules:
Icelandic rules:
Norwegian rules:
Swedish rules:

Music from all parts of the world

Through reciprocal agreements with sister organizations in other countries STIM also represents music makers of the whole world.

Contact Info

Sweden (STIM):, Ph. +46 8 783 88 00 Swbd.; Member services direct # +46 8 783 95 00.
Denmark (KODA):, Ph. +45 33306380
Finland (TEOSTO), Finnish Composers' Copyright Society Teosto:, Ph. +358 9 681 011
Norway (TONO):, Ph. +47 22 05 72 00
Iceland (STEF), Performing Rights Society of Iceland:, Ph. +354 561-6173