It’s important to remember that you can’t just use any music for a show.
Music is considered intellectual property, and people who make music deserve to be paid for their work. There are royalties that are paid to both the composer and the performers of the music. For example, David Copperfield likes to use music from movies in his show, but he usually has it rearranged to fit the running time of an illusion. In this case, the composer of the music (someone like John Williams) is paid, and Copperfield contracts with an orchestra to record the new version of the music. This makes Copperfield the owner of the new version of the piece.
On the other hand, sometimes Copperfield uses a song in his show (usually by Phil Collins.)
In this case, there is a music royalty paid to the composer, and a performer’s royalty paid to Phil Collins. If Mr. Collins both composed and performed that specific song, then he gets both payments.
But what if you don’t want to pay royalites every time you perform? You’ve got some options:
Get someone to compose and record music for you. This makes you the owner.
Use music that is royalty-free. There is a lot of this out there; Google “buyout music” and you’ll find a large number of companies that have royalty-free music libraries.
They create music, and when you buy it from them, you get the rights to use it without further payment. One in specific is worth a mention...www.freeplaymusic.com.
This company has music that you can download and use for free, under certain circumstances. They do good music -- it’s been used on TV during the Olympics, for example.
There are also music CDs explicitly made for performers, and buying the CD gives you the right to use the music. There’s a link to one of these companies on the Links & Info page.