GENERAL INFORMATION ON LICENSING
Many churches don’t have a good general understanding of licensing for music and video use. It is important to educate yourself and attain the proper licensing for the music and video use within your services. There is a misconception that because a church is non-profit then that exempts them from having to pay licensing fees for music, this is incorrect. There is a basic license from CCLI that will give you a license just for using specific songs in your worship sets during your services. Branching out into other areas may require licensing that you did not realize you needed. This includes using video clips during sermons or playing movies for youth night, live streaming music that is not original to your band, and many more.
Churches sometimes assume that playing and recording previously written worship music is a universal right that should be free, this is incorrect. There is only two ways to avoid licensed music. The first is to use music from the public domain, which you can see HERE. The second is to write your own, original worship songs.
LIVE STREAMING LICENSE
One of the biggest media challenges that churches are facing today is live streaming. Live streaming requires it’s own unique license. Just because your church may have a license to perform worship music live doesn’t mean you have the appropriate license for broadcasting that music over the internet. You must have a specific license to show your worship music set online through recording or live streaming. You can get more info about a license for that HERE. Many churches solve this problem by not recording or streaming their worship music portion of their service, they only record or broadcast the sermon message. These are really your only two options, either you must purchase the annual license or avoid broadcasting your music worship set online.
Obviously thousands of churches get away with not having that license every year, I understand it’s an added expense that they want to try to avoid. Many people think that all Christian music should be free, I understand their point of view as well to some level, but is it a selfish point of view? I know a Christian songwriter and his family. He has had one big huge hit that was recorded by a well-known Christian artist and has written many more songs as well. He is not a millionaire by any means. He works as a songwriter and worship leader, loves his family and gives back to his community. He often gets away on retreats by himself or with other songwriters to seek God, pray, and write. He then returns and releases God’s words or his own personal revelations through his music which very often moves into a worship music setting or even to radio play. When you pay your licensing fees, that is what you are supporting, think of it in those terms, it really is a ministry to the songwriters who seek God and release those songs for us to enjoy.
To read more information about Licensing , see this excellent article from Christian Copyright Solutions.