I was wondering how you handled the distribution of burned CDs in your music ministry. Is there anyway to do this legally? I would love to download and distribute songs on mixed CDs for two main reasons:
1) To help my musicians be familiar with new songs before rehearsal
2) To encourage Christians I am counseling to listen to songs that admonish/encourage/help them worship God in the specific area of their spiritual life that they are struggling in.
I sent Tim’s question out to some of the guys who help me serve Sovereign Grace churches in the areas of music and worship. Here are the responses I received, with my comments in brackets.
- You can gift a song to multiple people on iTunes. (Enter in their email addresses, separated by commas). We frequently do this for new songs.
- We put all of our chord charts on Planning Center, and also include web links to iTunes, AmazonMP3, and YouTube, and Grooveshark where team members can listen or purchase themselves. Grooveshark is free. [another option for free listening is rdio.com]
- As our team has grown, it’s not uncommon for one group of musicians to learn a new song and teach it to the church, only for a new group of musicians to have to learn it again the following week when we repeat the song. In-house recordings enables them to get a feel for the previous week’s arrangement ahead of time, which usually sounds a good bit different than the CD arrangement…I’m hoping that’s legal! [This is an example of the well-researched, high legal standards we set in our churches]
- This process is what we’ve done as well. If it’s illegal, i’ve been ignorant and it’s been nice. [I'm withholding names here for obvious reasons]
- [Finally, someone actually checked] It’s legal. Here’s the rights you have for CCLI songs. The terms (1.1.e and 1.2.b) gives you the right to record the songs in your service, and you can make duplications not to exceed 15% of your church attendance. So for most worship teams it’s totally legal, as long as you’re working with CCLI songs and you’re not making zillions of copies. Except in the case of church plants where the worship team is like half the congregation.
- Our tech team records every service to MP3, and then posts it to Planning Center. If we ever want the recording of an individual song, we can use a computer program [Garageband, ProTools, Logic] to cut the MP3 down to just that song.
While it’s often helpful to learn to play songs as they’re played on albums, there are other options. If your musicians are competent enough, you might try learning a song without listening to the original, just using a chord chart. Maybe you’ll come up with something that’s more in line with your context and the skills of your musicians.
Ripping off songs for the team to learn is probably an easy way to get music out, but it’s still illegal in most cases (unless permission is granted by the publisher) and robs songwriters and artists of their due compensation. Of course, there are other options.
Write your own songs.
Come up with your own arrangements.
Ask permission from the publisher.
Any of the solutions mentioned above
Use songs covered under the Creative Commons License
Appeal that you’re obeying a “higher law” [not a response I'd recommend in view of Rom. 13:1]
Since the time I was a full time worship pastor, technology has made it much easier to enable others to hear songs while being respectful of copyright laws. While we lead people in proclaiming the glories of the Savior in song each week, let’s not intentionally and repeatedly rob others to do it.
A few years ago I did another post on downloading, which you can access here.