Changes to Dramatic Context licensing for promoters and producers

Wednesday, 22 Nov 2017

At today’s Annual General Meeting the APRA Board voted to adopt a new definition of Dramatic Context to come into effect on 1 January 2018.

This follows a request from the Board in November 2016 to review the definition of Dramatic Context and how music was being licensed in theatre, dance and shows. We consulted extensively with licensees, Live Performance Australia, AMPAL and other stakeholders to develop a definition that ensured consistency of licensing across markets.

The previous definition stated: Dramatic Context means in conjunction with acting, costumes, scenic accessories, scripted dialogue or other dramatic effects, or as a ballet.*        

From 1 January 2018 Dramatic Context will be defined as:

The performance of musical works:

  1. in conjunction with a presentation on the live stage that has:
    1. a storyline; and
    2. one or more narrators or characters; or
  2. as a Ballet;

Good news for schools and small productions

The new arrangement means that for many educational institutions, dance schools and low-value productions, we'll be able to quickly license the Dramatic Context performance of the works they wish to use, without having to refer to back to the copyright owner.

Good news for producers

For licensees, when production elements change during a rehearsal process, the new definition provides enormous latitude – the licence relates to the nature of the production, rather than to specific production elements so there will no longer be a need to keep us updated of slight production changes.

Dramatic Context licensing is very labour intensive and the changes will see a smoother licensing process for all involved.

Good news for global touring shows

The previous definition differed from the one used in major theatrical markets, such as the UK. Until now, some productions were licensed as concerts in the UK but licensed as Dramatic Context in Australia.

Need more info?

A comprehensive licence guide has been prepared, which is available here. Current licensees are encouraged to read the licence guide, review their shows and contact our Theatrical Licensing team with any queries at or 03 9426 5223.

Publishers please contact our Publisher Relations and Repertoire team at or 02 9935 7900.

Writers please contact our Writer Services team at or 1800 642 634. 

Members of Live Performance Australia (LPA) may contact the LPA Policy Team on 03 8614 2000 or

*Ballet means a choreographic work having a story, plot or abstract idea devised or used for the purpose of interpretation by dancing and/or miming. Ballet does not include country or folk dancing, tap dancing or precision dancing sequences.

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