How To Protect Your Music Department Against Copyright Infringement (part 5 of 6): Music Outside Your Church Walls

Today Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions  is back for her 5th installment in the 6-part series on protecting your church music department against copyright infringement. There are basically 2 places your music department will perform music; inside the church and outside the church. Today Susan explains how to keep everything legal no matter where you are. Susan!
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Some churches are more musical than others in their worship. For some, Sunday morning is like a free visit to the symphony, with impressive choral renderings and a full orchestra. Some do a lot with a five-part praise band. Some love a simple piano accompaniment, and some sing a cappella. Whether you keep it simple or have to offer earplugs at the door, the religious service exemption to U.S. copyright law covers your musical performance in worship.

Churches vary in their use of music outside of worship as well. At the church I grew up in, music was part of practically every gathering. Our youth group regularly had talent shows, sing-alongs, and concerts. The annual craft bazaar wouldn’t have been complete without Christmas music playing in the background, and my fellow voice students and I had our recitals in the sanctuary. Contrast that with my current church, at which lively conversation and the shrieks of children provide soundtrack enough for any gathering. But even at this comparatively less-musical church, we have wedding receptions in the fellowship hall and a day care that often plays music for the children.

It’s a common mistake for church leaders to assume that any music they might be using is covered by the religious service exemption. When they learn that the exemption only applies to music performed in worship services, often their immediate response is, “We don’t play any music outside of services.”

You might not play much, but you probably do more than you think.

Do you use on-hold music for your phone system? Host choir concerts? Play background music during your fall festival? Have an annual talent show? Offer exercise or dance classes? Take retreats and sing around the campfire? Hold weddings or funerals in your sanctuary?

Chances are, you are using music outside of worship services, and if so, you need a performance license to keep it legal and musically-enhance your events and activities with integrity.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.

How To Protect Your Church Music Department Against Copyright Infringement (Part 4 or 6): What the CCLI License Covers

Today Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions  is back for her 4th installment in the 6-part series on protecting your church music department against copyright infringement. Today Susan explains the CCLI Licence and what it covers. CCLI stands for Christian Copyright Licence international. Susan breaks down what the licence covers as well as dispelling some common myths. Go for it Susan!
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Do you ever grow increasingly uneasy the more times a chorus is repeated at the end of a worship song? You’re never quite sure if this is the last one or if it’s repeating another time or two? My home church uses a little symbol, a simplified version of the church’s logo, to indicate when the song is really, truly ending. I thought that was a brilliant idea, since otherwise, you have to rely on the worship leader’s sometimes-unreliable “one more time” warning or maybe the appearance of the song’s copyright and CCLI info, since those lines of tiny type are included on what is, presumably, the last slide of the song.

Unless you’re experienced with copyrights, your main familiarity with CCLI is probably in that lovely fine print at the bottom of the screen. But like the fine print on pharmaceutical ads or in a magazine’s masthead, we tend to just overlook it. Like many in the church, my guess was that CCLI gives the church the right to use the song in worship.

That’s true, to an extent, but what exactly does “use” mean, in this context? Not to parse language too much, but it actually makes a big difference—the difference between using music legally and illegally in your church.

The CCLI basic license is a reproduction license, covering the printing of copyrighted music and lyrics in bulletins or congregational songbooks, or projecting of them on screen, the CCLI license covers some very specific music uses, including the limited creation of custom arrangements for congregational singing, and limited recording of worship services onto CDs and DVDs. (For further detail of what is covered by the CCLI license, contact your CCLI representative.)

The CCLI license does not cover performance of copyrighted music. Performance of hymns and other songs in worship is covered by the Religious Service Exemption in U.S. Copyright Law. But that exemption doesn’t apply outside of a congregational worship service. Playing or performing copyrighted music during other events requires performance licensing. CCLI is a valuable resource, but don’t make the mistake of assuming it covers every way you use music in your church.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.

How To Protect Your Church Music Department Against Copyright Infringement (Part 3 of 6): Music In Broadcast Services

“For today’s blog we welcome back Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions  is back with the 3rd installment in her 6-part series on protecting your church music department against copyright infringement. Today Susan covers important information all churches who are broadcasting their services needs to be aware of.  Let’s go Susan!
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I love worship music. A church’s praise and worship time means so much to me so I’m always bummed out when I’m watching a worship service online or on television, and there’s that awkward transition from announcements or a public domain hymn to the scripture reading and sermon. Wait, did I miss something? Yes I did. Chances are, there were a few praise songs or a great anthem that had to be unceremoniously chopped out of the broadcast.
Why? Because the church or the television station didn’t have permission to broadcast the performances of those songs.

When I first found a church website that replayed their entire services, including worship sets with the most up-to-date songs, my first reaction was like a third grader at the lunch table, witnessing a kid throwing his pudding pack across the table. I let out the “tattle siren”: Ummmmmmmmmmmm! Ms. Davis, Billy threw his puuuuudding! Or rather, Ummmmmmmmmmmm! BMI, First Church is illegally broadcasting your sooooooongs!
What? There’s a license you can get for that? Never mind.

It’s true that the Religious Service Exemption does not cover musical performances in a broadcasted service (even if the service is being broadcast directly from the place of worship), but churches can get an Internet performance license (often referred to as an Internet streaming license) if there are copyrighted songs included. If a church is going to have its services on TV or radio, those stations will need to have a performance license.
This was a real grey area until 2006, when a publisher named Simpleville took a radio station to court for rebroadcasting several churches’ services, including the music portion. The defendant’s argument against liability was that he could broadcast the songs because the songs had been performed during church services. The court rejected the argument, stating that the exemption applies only to performances that occur at the place of worship; it does not extend to broadcasts of those performances.

If you want to broadcast your services via the Internet, radio, or TV, don’t cut out the musical performances and rob worship-lovers like me of a great praise anthem. Just make sure your church or the station broadcasting your services is covered by the right performance license from ASPCA, BMI and SESAC.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.

How To Protect Your Church Music Ministry From Copyright Infringement (part 2 of 6): Using Secular Music

“Today Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions  is back for her second installment in the 6-part series on protecting your church music department against copyright infringement. Susan covers the use of secular music in your worship service. I realize many churches are against this. For those that do, Susan has some great advice to share today regarding what you need to know to keep it all legal. It’s all yours Susan!
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The first time I remember hearing a secular song used in worship was at a rural church in northern Indiana. It was “Let My Love Open the Door,” by Pete Townsend, performed by a spunky blond woman from the praise band. It was a catchy and energetic way to kick off a service closing out their “Doors” series, which would invite people to walk through a large door on stage to symbolize their acceptance of Christ.

I became an instant fan of using secular music in worship, if it supported the message. I anticipated opposition to the idea from our church’s leadership, partially from a legal perspective (was a church even allowed to do that without special permission?) but mainly from a theological perspective. It can be controversial, as a lot of people feel secular music has no place in sacred worship. Granger pastor Tim Stevens makes the case for using secular music in his book, Pop Goes the Church, saying there is biblical precedent and gospel imperative for churches to leverage pop culture to reach secular people.

If you can remove the theological stumbling block for your congregation and fellow worship planners, you can rest easy knowing that the legal stumbling block has already been taken care of. As it turns out, secular music is included under the Religious Services Exemption to U.S. copyright law, stating that churches do not need a performance license to play live or pre-recorded versions of any kind of music (sacred or secular) in the context of regular worship services. The only exception in the exemption is “dramatico-musical” works (operas and plays) of a secular nature. These are not exempt and would require licensing.

It’s important to note that this exemption only applies to playing or performing music, and does not extend to reproducing music in any form, such as making an audio or video recording of music in your service, or making copies of song lyrics.

The morning after that service at Granger, I heard Pete Townshend’s song again on a pop radio station, and I was immediately reminded of the service’s message. To this day, I remember that Christian message whenever I hear the song. That’s the power of using pop songs in worship, and there’s no law to keep you from embracing it.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.

How To Protect Your Church’s Music Department Against Copyright Infringement (part 1 of 6)

“Today I’m happy to introduce a new guest blogger. Her name is Susan Fontaine , Founder and President Christian Copyright Solutions  Susan is an educator and long-time member of the Christian arts community with 28 years of experience in the Christian media industry, church copyright administration and copyright management.

Today’s post is the first of a 6-part series Susan will be doing for us on copyright laws your church music ministry needs to know about.  Don’t forget to download the free report at the bottom of the post for a chance to win one of 3 I-pad Minis.

Take it away Susan!

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The July 4th holiday is always a good time to give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. The First Amendment, which includes freedom of religion, is particularly precious in its guarantee that we can practice our faith without fear of persecution. But just as the Second Amendment doesn’t cover everything a church might want to do (e.g. trespass into a farmer’s vineyard and trample his crop for freshly-squeezed Communion juice) the Religious Services Exemption to U.S. copyright law doesn’t cover every instance of musical performance a church might have.

The religious service exemption applies only to actual religious services. All other performances—the youth events, social gatherings, retreat sing-a-long, even the music played over the loudspeakers at fall festival—require a performance license. Unless the performance is in the context of services, churches have the same copyright responsibilities as a restaurant, business, or stadium, whether you’re singing live or just playing a recording for a group of people.

It might seem funny to call the background music played during your event or the on-hold music for the office phone a “performance,” but just because you’re not standing on a stage and charging admission doesn’t mean it’s not a performance. The legal definition, in this case, is: an instance of music being performed “in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.”

Most uses of music in a church context fit those criteria, being open to the public and/or a substantial gathering beyond a nuclear family and its guests. (Churches may talk about themselves as a family, but the U.S. government doesn’t see it that way!) So when you seek to be a 7-days-a-week church, growing disciples through teaching and fellowship, and reaching out through community events, remember that freedom often comes with boundaries, and that is the case with church music performance.

Want to know more about copyright myths that put your church at risk? Watch this helpful video from Christian Copyright Solutions and download their free downloadable resource to worship ministers – 6 Myths About Copyrights That Put Your Church at Risk.

CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners.

20 Questions To Ask If The Audience Won’t Get With Your Praise Team

I’ve seen and even written about the subject of unresponsive audiences in regard to praise & worship or even just selections from the choir. If you’ve ever done any research on the subject, chances are your search led you to articles that list some of the common reasons audiences are unresponsive to the praise and worship music going forth. I think they are important things to consider when you’re trying to figure out why your audience is unresponsive, so I’m going to list some of the most common questions you should ask if you find this situation.

But then I want to get into another aspect of unresponsive audiences that I don’t see covered very often at all. More about that a little later in the article. First though, let’s look at 20 possible reasons why your congregation may not be responding

 Song Selection

It’s important you know your audience well and what they respond to. This can sometimes be harder than it looks, because honestly most of us choose songs based not on whether or not we think our audience will be blessed by them, but by how much we like them ourselves. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the musical arrangement or the beat that we don’t pay as much attention to the message as we should. Sometimes it’s the style that’s losing your audience.

1.  Is it too contemporary?
2. Too dated or”old school?”
3. Too much of one or the other?
4. Are you doing too much new material (it’s hard for your audience to participate if you’re never doing anything they know)?
5. Are songs easy to catch on and sing?
6. Are the songs really praise and worship songs?

Musicianship

7. Is the music being played with a level of competence?
8. Can the audience recognize the song?
9. Is the volume too loud or too soft? (ok it’s never too soft, lol!)

Vocals

10. Is the harmony right?
11. Are the group members well-versed and learned on the material (do they know the song?)
12.Are you putting competent leaders up to lead songs?
13. Are your leaders and/or group members screaming?

Sound

14. Are the microphones too loud?
15. Are they feeding back?
16. Are the house speakers too loud?

Leadership

17. Is the leader actively exalting and leading the audience?
18. Is the leader reprimanding or scolding the audience for not participating? (don’t ever do this!)
19. Is the leader moving quickly between songs with little to no dead time?
20. Is the leader being led by the spirit and allowing for unscripted, organic worship and praise? (real praise and worship can’t always be scripted)

All of these issues and more are very common issues that audiences find very off-putting and distracting. It is very difficult for the audience to overcome those things and concentrate on praising and worshiping when these things are not being addressed regularly. And while it may seem almost unfair to some people that really haven’t fully grasped the importance of perfecting music ministry, the truth is it can be any one thing. Everything can be perfect, for example, and the microphones are way too loud or feeding back. Or everything is sounding great but the music was way too loud. Or the group sounded great but the leader didn’t really have the skill that the song required.

But let’s flip this coin for a minute and talk about something almost nobody touches on. Because you see, if we’re all being honest here, there are times when absolutely everything is the best it can be. The band is on point. the song selection is perfect. The group/choir sounds great. The leader is bringing it. And the audience is STILL unresponsive.

There are just days when despite your best efforts, the audience simply won’t be with you. Who knows what it is from one day to the next, but it does happen. It is on those days that worship leaders and song leaders make the worst mistake they can make. I touched on it in question number 18 but it’s important enough to elaborate on more here.

I’m speaking of the tendency many leaders have start reprimanding the audience to get them to participate. Understand what I’m referring to here. I’m not talking about the act of encouraging the audience to open up and feel free to worship. Encouraging them to lift their hands, stand, or sing along.

I’m talking about those who actually, in a sense, scold the audience for not being more engaged or participating more. Listen, nobody understands how frustrating an unresponsive audience is than I do. But scolding them will only cause them to resent you. which will only make them close off even more. Only now it may very well extend past the musical selections to the Pastor and the word of God itself.

That is why when you worship and praise God in song, your worship must be for real. It has to be about God, and NOT about the audience. I wrote in an article a while ago that it’s not a good idea to sing your entire selection with your eyes closed. That’s absolutely true. But much more importantly than that, you must never allow your worship or praise experience to depend on or be affected by the reactions of the audience.

When we sing, we should always sing to the glory and honor of God. As one speaker once told us at a choir banquet, we are to minister to Him, and He in turn ministers through us to His people. If you’re always looking for the audience’s reaction when you sing, you could find yourself very discouraged when you don’t get what you expected

It’s really not our job in music ministry to “make” the audience do anything. Any number of things could be the cause of unresponsiveness. I’ve seen times when, heck the people are just tired! The church has been in revival all week, or we’ve had back-to-back services, or a Saturday night service of some kind so everyone is kind of tired Sunday morning.

So yes, it is extremely important that we do everything we can to perfect, enhance, hone and polish every aspect of our music ministries. But at the end of the day every single minute we spend on any of that has to be for one reason and one reason only. That God be glorified. And when we stand before His people knowing that we’ve done everything we can to prepare ourselves to minister in excellence, even when they’re not responding we can then just worship Him from a pure, honest, deeply sincere place that has nothing to do with how many people stood up while we were singing. Or how many didn’t. For more praise team training check out my new e-book Praise Team 101