APRA AMCOS can act as an agent on behalf of music publishers and copyright owners for music used in theatre.  We can help you obtain permission to use music your dramatic performance in cases where music is not specially written for a production.

Whether or not a Dramatic Context licence is the right licence for your production depends on a few key factors.

A Dramatic Context licence is required when music is used in conjunction with ALL elements in either A or B:

A: 1) Acting  2) Costumes  3) Scenic Accessories AND  4) Scripted Dialogue 

B: 1) Acting  2) Costumes  3) Scenic Accessories AND  4) Other Dramatic Effects 

Or as a ballet, which is defined as:

C: A choreographic work having a story, plot or abstract idea devised or used for the purpose of interpretation by dancing and/or miming, but does not include country or folk dancing or precision dancing sequences.

Music requested for use in a dramatic context is subject to an approval process prior to licensing and performance.  

A large repertoire of music is available for licensing for a range of theatrical performances.  That said, not all music is available for theatrical use and some works are restricted (publisher approval required) as advised by our publisher members. This is where APRA AMCOS can assist with your music licensing needs.

We have a helpful flowchart to helps to determine whether or not your production needs a Dramatic Context licence.

View Flowchart

Read our Dramatic Context guidelines here:

View Guidelines

Grand Rights

Grand Rights refers to copyright operas, operettas, musicals, revues, ballets, oratorios and large choral works (exceeding 20 minutes) where the music and lyrics  have been written expressly for the production.

APRA AMCOS does not license Grand Right performances. In these cases you will need to apply for a performance licence directly from the Grand Right owner of the work, usually a music publisher or agent. In the case of Grand Rights, we can help you track down the appropriate publisher or agent - we're happy to help.

How do I apply? 

Dramatic Context applications should be submitted approximately six to eight weeks prior to the start of rehearsals, with three weeks as a minimum. This allows for the music research required to determine copyright ownership, publishing and works availability. Music clearances with publishers (if required) can take between six to eight weeks. Adequate time should be allowed in case requests are denied and music needs to be replaced.

To apply, please complete and return the application below directly to cdavis@apra.co.nz

Download Application Form

APRA AMCOS will confirm the type of licence required for your theatrical production within three to five days of receiving your application (there may be slight delays during peak periods). Depending on the music requested and if necessary, we then contact the publishers/rights holders on your behalf to seek approval for the songs you wish to use. This process can take up to 6- 8 weeks.

Once all music has been approved for your production, we can then grant a licence agreement to cover the use of music for the performance period as per your application.

How much does it cost? 

Dramatic Context licence fees are based on a percentage of gross box office takings.  This can range between 0.15% to 6% of the box office depending on the amount of music used in a production with a minimum licence fee of $75 + GST (see below).


Less than 5% (0.15% + GST)
5% or more but less than 10% (0.25% + GST)
10% or more but less than 15% (0.50% + GST)
15% or more but less than 25% (0.75% + GST)
25% or more but less than 35% (1.00% + GST)
35% or more but less than 40% (1.50% + GST)
40% or more but less than 45% (2.00% + GST)
45% or more but less than 50% (2.50% + GST)
50% or more but less than 55% (3.00% + GST)
55% or more but less than 60% (4.00% + GST)
60% or more but less than 65% (4.50% + GST)
65% or more but less than 70% (5.00% + GST)
70% or more but less than 80% (5.50% + GST)
80% or more (6.00% + GST)

For example:

Duration of Musical work(s): 120 seconds
Total Production Duration: 3600 seconds
Music Use Percentage (120 ÷ 3600): 3.33%
Relevant Percentage: 0.165% (0.15%+GST)
Licence Fee = Gross Box Office Takings x 0.15% + GST

NB: Restricted works approved publisher(s) are charged at a rate determined by the publisher. These are generally based on a percentage of box office takings pro rata (based on Total Production Duration or Total Music Duration).

Need more information?

We’re here to help you, please contact our Theatrical Licensing representative Colleen Davis on 0800 69 2772 ext 724 or cdavis@apra.co.nz

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+64 9 623 2174

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Unit 113, Zone 23
23 Edwin Street, Mt Eden
Auckland 1024

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