Why the Scope of Song Coverage Makes a Big Difference with Church Licenses

Church leaders often ask us, “What’s the difference between your licenses and other licensing companies?” It’s a good question and a very important one, especially when it comes to church copyright compliance. The key difference is the scope, quantity, and genre of the song catalogs. CCS’s performance licenses cover more than 20 million Christian, holiday, and secular songs of all genres.

The big question? Do churches really need the rights to 20 million songs? Isn’t 300,000+ Christian songs more than enough? The benefit of having coverage for 20 million tunes, including international works, is that you just don’t have to worry, or think about, whether a song is covered.

For example, when your worship pastor wants to feature a secular song because it offers the perfect lyrics for the sermon, you can kick back and know you’re covered. You don’t have to scramble to find the song publisher and try to get last-minute licensing. Or when you celebrate Memorial Day or July 4th and you want to perform patriotic songs like, “Born in the USA,” “Some Gave All,” “Only in America,” and “God Bless the USA.” Once again, no worries because you know they’re included in your license.

In 2005, many CCS clients began to ask us to help in the arduous process of getting performance rights licenses from ASCAP and BMI. They wanted to stream music on their websites, and they knew they needed licensing. We began to help them and soon realized that the process would be overwhelming for any church, even the larger ones. So we started talking to ASCAP and BMI, and later SESAC, about creating a simple, one-stop license for religious organizations. These performance rights organizations (PROs) manage performance licensing on behalf of songwriters and publishers. The idea was for CCS to provide educational information about the need for performance licenses, and then offer a simple and affordable solution by combining the song catalogs from all three PROs. In 2006, we launched the WORSHIPcast Streaming License, and later in 2008, we introduced PERFORMmusic Facilities License.

The end result is that our clients could legally play and perform more than 20 million songs from the repertoires of ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC that included not only popular worship songs but also every genre under the sun. In addition, licensees have access to an extensive scope of international songs because of the PRO’s reciprocal agreements with more than 100 global performance rights societies. CCS has partnered with all three PROs over the past 11 years to offer churches these two licenses.

Outside worship services, there are many special programs where secular music is appropriate and often featured in churches. Special holiday dinners, karaoke nights, BBQs and picnics, dance night, summer movies, and youth events are all events that simply “ go better with music.”

Benjamin Corey wrote a blog article “Secular Songs I Wish We’d Sing in Church” in which he described five songs he believes articulate important spiritual elements that are appropriate for worship services. These songs: “Let It Be,” (Beatles), “One” (U2), “Redemption” (Bob Marley), Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” (IZ), “Don’t Stop Believing” (Journey), and  “Bridge over Troubled Waters” (Simon & Garfunkel) are all covered by the CCS license because of the scope of the PRO’s 20 million songs.

That’s the beauty of having access to such a comprehensive scope of songs…you’re free to be creative because your license opens up all kinds of possibilities. At the same time, it gives you peace of mind AND  immediate access to use your favorite music.

Susan Fontaine Godwin is CCS’s founder/CVO, an educator and long-time member of the Christian arts community with 32 years of experience in the Christian media industry, church copyright administration and copyright management. Susan is an author and speaker and frequently writes for several Christian magazines and online publications. She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Mobile.

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.