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A person sitting by a piano looking at sheet music A person sitting by a piano looking at sheet music

What is an arranger?

2 min read

Understand the role an arranger plays in songwriting.

An arranger finalizes a composition or song, adding their own creative touch.

An takes an existing and creates a complete of a for performance or recording.

One of the most common genres in which arrangers play a key role is classical music. Here, they adapt the work of to create their own unique of that work. They do this, for example, by adding additional layers of, or rearranging, or creating musical transitions.

Arrangers may also create used for a performance or recording of a musical work.

There are also arrangers in other genres, like pop music, who can work with or without the , depending on whether they are part of creating a new or they are arranging an already existing one.

Copyright ownership for arrangers

If you are an arranger who makes an contribution to the musical work, you can end up having as much impact as the composer, or . Arrangers often receive a fee for their contribution instead of being recognized as co-authors. In this case, they will not receive any for that contribution. Under , the composer and then own the to the notes an arranger writes.

In other cases, when arrangers make an original contribution, they can qualify as a co-author of a new musical work or as the author of a in the form of an arrangement of a pre-existing musical work.

Arrangers that have multiple creative roles

If you are an arranger, you might also have additional roles when writing or recording a musical work, in which case you might also have additional shares in the ownership of that musical work and the .

Find out more about how this works in the Recording topic. To understand authors' rights in more detail, visit the Music Creators’ Rights topic.

Image credit: Martin Dam Kristensen