Have you had a chance to catch your breath? Now that Easter celebrations are over the focus turns to spring and summer church activities. These upcoming months give churches the chance to offer special programs and festive events. Graduation celebrations, Memorial Day, dances, concerts, 4th of July, VBS and youth activities, mission trips, wedding receptions…the list goes on!
Many of these programs are greatly enhanced through music, so it’s important to make sure you have the proper music licensing in place. With just a little planning, it’s easy to make sure you are legally featuring music in all your special activities.
The U.S. Religious Service Exemption
Let’s start by understanding an importation exemption in the U.S. Copyright Law. The U.S. Religious Service Exemption allows churches to freely perform music in your worship service. In most cases, using copyrighted songs outside of religious services requires performance licensing. So what constitutes a performance? A soloist? A band? Or maybe an ensemble or choir?
Often thought of as an “event” or “presentation”, confusion surrounds how we think of a “performance”. However, the performance licensing requirement is not limited to these situations. When congregations and smaller informal groups play or perform copyrighted music outside of a worship setting, they also require performance licensing, whether music is played by a professional string quartet or sung by an informal group full of amateur musicians.
With CCS’s PERFORMmusic Facilities License you are able to legally play or perform 25 million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC anywhere in your facilities or satellite campuses. And with the temps slowly on the rise, it’s not too early to get music licensing for all of your ministry’s upcoming summer activities:
- Vacation Bible School – Many fresh, exciting “packaged” VBS kits are available and many churches are discovering how helpful they are in simplifying the planning and bringing everything together. We get calls and questions about music in VBS programs and what licensing churches need to keep it legal. The good news, with PERFORMmusic it’s easy!
- Youth Activities
- Mom’s’ Day Out
- Movie Nights
- Drama & Music Classes
- Concerts & Sing-a-longs
- Dance & Aerobics Classes
- Patriotic Holiday Programs – For holidays programs like Memorial Day and the 4th of July, you may want to feature patriotic songs that are not included in common Christian worship catalogs. The PERFORMmusic Facilities License includes many popular, copyrighted patriotic tunes.
- Missions Trips and Outreach – Since ministry teams often make videos with music of their experience to share when they return, it’s important to identify if copyrighted material will be used. When you enhance your ministries through the use of CDs or DVDs, you need to secure the appropriate licensing to legally use third-party copyrights. You can download CCS’s FREE Copyright Checklist for detailed information on how to get these licenses.
Legally Webcasting Your Ministry’s Performances
Your ministry can have an even greater impact when you share your activities with the world via the Internet. However, it’s important to keep in mind that licensing is required to legally webcast Internet song performances of copyrighted music. Again, you are free to contact each individual song owner for each song used, but many ministry leaders find this to be an extremely cumbersome, time-consuming process. CCS’s WORSHIPcast Streaming License is a one-stop blanket license that gives you a simple way to be copyright compliant.
If you have any questions regarding copyrights and your ministry give us a call 1-877-394-5566 or log on to live chat with a copyright expert today.
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.