6 Common Myths About Performance Rights

Myths are prevalent when it comes to churches using copyrighted material. What exactly is a myth? One definition is “a widely held but false belief or idea.” Webster defines it as “an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true.” And there are a lot of different ideas about what churches can and cannot do with copyrights without getting permission. When it comes to music performance rights, there’s a lot of misinformation and myths.

Music performance rights represent a fairly simple concept, but one that is often misunderstood by churches. Myths often spread when there are misunderstandings, so CCS has published a FREE downloadable Fact Sheet on identifying six common myths in regard to the performance rights for songs and music in the context of church activities. When you read the Fact Sheet, you’ll be able to debunk common myths and have a solid understanding of what your church needs to do to be able legally play and perform music.  

Let’s look at some brief definitions to help lay the groundwork for understanding performance licensing. First, the legal definition of a performance 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 church performances fit those criteria. A performance license grants permission to have these public performances, whether it is a live performance or playing of pre-recorded music.

Most performance licenses are controlled and managed by performing rights organizations or “PROs.” The three PROs in the United States are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Every songwriter and publisher who wants to be paid performance royalties is registered with one of these three organizations, which represent more than 20 million songs. PROs collect performance license fees for a wide range of uses, from Internet, radio and TV broadcast to stadiums and restaurants.

CCS’s PERFORMmusic License provides churches and ministries with a license for the performance of live and pre-recorded music in their facilities, including satellite campuses. The license covers all 20 million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, including all genres of Christian and secular songs.

About Christian Copyright Solutions: 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. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.