License This

Over past two weeks I’ve been working on licensing for the musical at the Shantou University in China. It’s been quite an adventure in the world of copyright protection. We’re licensing the show Pippin from Musical Thatre International. For a fee, the company essentially gives me the right to produce the show for a set number of performances in front of a set number of people. The company also provides the materials for that performance. For instance, I will receive libretto books complete with script and score for my actors as well as a conductor’s score and orchestra parts.

While I don’t know if my efforts to lower the licensing costs have paid off, I am still pondering what it means to license to non-profits like universities and high schools. How do you calculate how much to charge non-professional theatre groups? For instance, Shantou University is not charging a cent for any of the performances of this show but does that mean the licensing fee should be lower? What if MTI takes into consideration that most of China disregards copyright protection anyway because they know they can’t get sued. What if MTI takes into consideration that this could be an opportunity to get into the ever-growing “China market?”

How much do you think Pippin is worth?

EDIT 8/18: So today I had an absolute panic attack when MTI quoted me a price for licensing and rentals. They said 60,000 Yen per performance. Okay, so the conversion comes out to be: $7,500?!? Ahhh! Wait, that can’t be. Do the conversion again…it actual converts to like only $545. Whoops. So the final quote comes out to be around $2200 for three performance rental and royalty. But then again, $2200 is still a bundle when you’re not charging for tickets…

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