Can you use popular music in stage plays?

Anyone here a theater expert, or an expert on acquiring rights to music?

I’m writing a stage play, and in a certain scene, I wanted to have like a 30-second clip of a popular song play during the scene (Queen’s “We are the Champions”).

Can you write something like that into a script to begin with?
I heard you could do it provided you put a note at the beginning of the script that “all performers must properly acquire the rights to the music, etc.”.

I also heard that a certain type of permission/license is required
to put something like that in an original script.

But even if you got it, would I need a different type of permission/license to be able play it during the stage show?

Anyone have any expertise on this???

It’s a bit of a weird area because live music in theatrical plays isn’t super common…but I appreciate any comments.


Expert? No. Trained in? yes.

You have to acquire rights. You need to contact BMG, ASCAP, or some other equivalent rights management agency to get current rates, or contact the author/composer.

It won’t be free, but generally, it’s not terribly expensive.

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